Watercress Line to receive £496,200 from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

April 9, 2021

  • The Watercress Line is among more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund

  • The grant will enable the railway to cover staff and infrastructure costs including track and bridge repairs

Hampshire’s Watercress Line has received a grant of £492,200 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the railway recover and reopen.

Nearly £400 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country including the Watercress Line in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today.

This award will cover three months of staff costs and vital infrastructure costs at the railway including essential repair work on the track and several bridges.

The previous Culture Recovery Fund grant helped the railway stay afloat during the pandemic. In particular keeping staff employed and facilitating the delivery of the successful Steam Illuminations activity during December 2020.

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

This brings the Government’s total investment across grants, capital and repayable finance from the Culture Recovery Fund so far to more than £1.2 billion across over 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organisations and sites.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”

Simon Baggott, General Manager of The Watercress Line, said:

“The money that the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage has injected into the railway has been vital for its survival during the pandemic. It’s not an overstatement to say that it has kept the railway in business and our staff in jobs.

We’re delighted to have been awarded this grant and excited that we’re able to continue with our mission to preserve part of the country’s railway heritage for generations to come.”

Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Spring is definitely here, bringing not only sunshine but that sense of optimism and hope for the future. We are all looking forward to heritage places and other visitor attractions reopening and I am very pleased that we have been able to support DCMS in delivering this vital funding to ensure the UK’s heritage sector can rebuild and thrive, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said:

“The value of our heritage sites and the people who run them has been amply demonstrated, as they have provided an anchor for so many of us through the dark days of the last year. Vital grants from the Culture Recovery Fund have helped them survive and will now help them recover, as the places we all cherish start to reopen in the months ahead.”

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot that was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England as well as the British Film Institute and Arts Council England