Epping Ongar Railway Receives Lifeline Grant from £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund9th October 2020

The Epping Ongar Railway has received a grant of £98,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. The grant will be used to adapt the Railway’s rolling stock, till systems to allow us to move to a cashless process and waiting areas for visitors. Some of the grant will be used to pay for the Railway’s overheads whilst it is closed over the winter. The grant will therefore ensure that come the 2021 season the Railway is sure to have made suitable adaptations so that it can face the future with confidence.

Epping Ongar Railway is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

Steam hauled train on the Epping Ongar railway

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arms length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

Dean Walton, General Manager said:

“Everyone has faced a tough time over the past few months. The support from the fund will provide us with the cash we need to get us over the winter and plan for 2021. We aim to reopen in April 2021 with relevant modifications to ensure a safe and commercially viable future for our Railway.“

One of the adaptations is the installation of partitions within the carriages that will provide protection between the parties travelling on the trains. This year passenger numbers have had to kept low to ensure compliance with social distancing. With these partitions the Railway can allow more people to travel safely on the Railway and that will of course ensure that we have the funds to continue our restoration and maintenance work.

Derek Knowles, leading the installation of the partitions, said:

“With these partitions being installed by the Railway's volunteers the passengers will be able to travel safely but still enjoying the heritage coaches.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.  Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time.

“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”