Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
4:41 PM 11th May 2021

East Lancashire Railway Welcomes Fresh £100,000 Lifeline

photo by Kevin Whitehurst
photo by Kevin Whitehurst
The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) has received further financial support in its battle to rebuild its finances - in the form of a £100,000 grant from the Government’s second round of the Culture Recovery Fund.

The award comes as successive lockdowns have left the cherished heritage attraction fighting for its future.

Deprived of vital visitor income, it faced an unprecedented six-figure loss in 2020. And this year it is still facing a shortfall in revenue of as much as fifty per cent.

But, after the railway welcomes its first passengers of 2021 on Saturday 1st May, this grant, alongside its ongoing fundraising efforts allow it to begin to contemplate a brighter future.

East Lancashire Railway Chairman Mike Kelly, said:
“Visitors are truly the lifeblood of this railway and we have missed welcoming them to all our popular events and galas.

“Their absence for much of the past year has had a devastating impact on our finances. At times it’s been difficult to see how we would be able to re-open.

“That’s why we’re so incredibly grateful for this latest financial award from the Culture Recovery Fund For Heritage.

“Their assistance throughout the past twelve months has played a critical role in our survival.

“We also remain indebted to the support we have received from other organisations as well as the incredible generosity of those who have contributed to our own fundraising initiatives.

“Re-opening the railway is a fitting tribute to the dogged determination of our volunteers and staff and allows us to continue providing a timeless experience for our hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.”

The grant forms part of the latest round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which has seen The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England allocate £44million to historic sites across England.

The funding for over 470 organisations from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is designed to support heritage organisations recover from the impacts of coronavirus.

It builds on more than £146m delivered to the sector in the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund last Autumn - which saw the East Lancashire Railway benefit from a £641,00 award.

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 organisations and other visitor attractions reopening. 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.”

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.”