Wensleydale Railway receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund 


  • Almost 450 heritage organisations in England, including the Wensleydale Railway have been awarded cash from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage
  • Grants of up to £1 million will deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England with further support to follow and larger grants for capital projects awarded through the Heritage Stimulus Fund
  • First major tranche of funding from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund



Wensleydale 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. 


445 organisations will share £103 million, including Wensleydale Railway to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector. 


The Railway has been awarded  £90,000 to be used to get the railway restarted.  The funding will pay for repairs to the permanent way; employ additional cleaning staff for deep cleaning of the carriages and provide enhanced cleaning in particular through Polar Express; employ additional station based staff to support social distancing and one way systems; provide extra support staff at stations to manage customer concerns; provide Covid protection screens in 8 carriages; and recover the seats in 2 carriages which will allow them to come back into service, providing more room for social distancing.

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.


433 organisations will receive a share of £67 million from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage to help with costs for operating, reopening and recovery. This includes famous heritage sites across the country, from Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Blyth Tall Ship to the Severn Valley Railway, the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire to the Piecehall in Halifax. The funds will save sites that are a source of pride for communities across the country.


12 organisations, including English Heritage, Landmark Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the Canal and River Trust, will receive £34 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund to restart construction and maintenance on cherished heritage sites to preserve visitor attractions and protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors in the sector. 


The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has also been awarded a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund through Historic England. The AHF will use the funding to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies for organisations affected by the pandemic.


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.


Guy Loveridge, Chairman of the Wensleydale railway, said:We are delighted to have received this grant which really is a life saver for the Wensleydale Railway. Restarting the railway after 8 months of closure is a massive task, made much harder by the need to protect our customers and workforce from Covid 19.  This grant allows us to prepare the railway for our annual Polar express with confidence’.


The Wensleydale Railway lost its passenger services in the 1950’s and its stations closed entirely in the 1960’s.  The section from Redmire to Garsdale was dismantled but Stone traffic continued on the 22 miles from Redmire to Northallerton until the 1990’s when the line was mothballed.  The Wensleydale Railway leased the line in 2002 and has re-opened the stations at Northallerton West, Leeming Bar, Bedale, Finghall, Leyburn and Redmire.  Scruton Station has been fully restored and provides a venue for heritage and education programmes. 


Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said: 


It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.


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.


For further information about the Wensleydale Railway contact David Walker (WR Director) on 07835 349500