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Winners of £1m heritage rail tourism grants announced

The successful applicants for a £1m funding pot for initiatives to boost tourist participation in Britain’s heritage railways have been announced.

The grants, of £25,000 to £75,000, were awarded to 17 organisations as part of a five-point plan to boost UK tourism.

The grants include £75,000 for the Association of Community Rail Partnerships to develop a website, available in multiple languages, showcasing the best British heritage railways.

University Campus Suffolk was given £51,320 for a project encouraging visitors travelling by rail to discover Suffolk’s Saxon shore, and Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Derbyshire received £74,500 to convert an existing building into a visitor centre.

Chinnor and Princes Risborough Rail Association will receive £75,000 to extend the heritage rail line from Chinnor to its former terminus at Princes Risborough station, and North Yorkshire Moors Railway will receive £60,000 to expand its Pullman service to Whitby.

Caledonian Railway and the University of the West of Scotland also received £30,000 to extend the railway’s season and increase community engagement and the number of visitors, and £67,000 was given to attract visitors to the ‘great little trains’ in Wales.

Claire Perry, minister for rail, said: “We want to show the best of British to our visitors, and heritage and community railways are part of that package.”

The full list of awards are listed on the DfT’s website, here.

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John Duncan, Chair HHBT   16/12/2016 at 18:39

Highland Historic Buildings Trust was established in 1985 and has developed an expertise in the repair and adaptive re-use of historic buildings tackling buildings at risk. An options appraisal was commissioned by HHBT to look into finding a sustainable use for Viewhill House which was built by and was the home and residence of Joseph Mitchell, a civil engineer who undertook many projects throughout the Highlands including works with Thomas Telford on the Caledonian Canal but his reputation is founded on his skill as a railway engineer. . Having looked at six potential uses, preference is given to eight serviced apartments as the most sustainable end use. Subject to finding an existing operator of serviced apartments as well as sourcing substantial funding to restore the property and equip it for its new use, HHBT would acquire the property from its current owners at a nominal sum. It could be around two years before the contract for renovation the property is let and a further three years before it is available for use. Heritage outcomes would be achieved through the restoration and sustainable use of an important historic building and through an exhibition which focuses on Joseph Mitchell that would be set up in the reception area of the property, with additional external interpretation for a wider public. There would be scope during the reconstruction and redevelopment works for people to be trained in traditional skills. Would our proposals meet the criteria for funding from the RTM? I am happy to provide more details if desired.

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