The Watercress Line is delighted to announce that it has been awarded a grant of £250,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund from its Heritage Emergency Fund, which aimed to help heritage organisations affected by the impact of COVID-19.
The sum awarded is the maximum available under this scheme, and will be used to protect the historic buildings and rolling stock of the railway, from the impact of the enforced closure to visitors earlier in the year.
The Watercress Line started running trains again on July 11, but with less capacity for visitors due to social distancing measures, which also adds extra costs. The National Lottery grant, which relates to costs incurred over August to November, covers salary for bringing more members of staff back from furlough, provision of additional office space and other facilities to allow social distancing. It also covers the purchase of coal and other consumables, emergency repairs to buildings and coaches plus investment in the website.
Watercress Line General Manager, Simon Baggott, said: “We are extremely grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for awarding this grant, which secures the railway’s existence for the benefit of the local area over the coming months. This is the best news we have had for weeks and will be warmly appreciated by everyone who visits, volunteers or employees. We are looking forward to welcoming more visitors back to the Watercress Line over the coming weeks, as we find ways of expanding the scope of what we offer.”