HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND ANNOUNCES £2.875m STAGE TWO PASS
FOR THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY'S MAJOR BUILDING PROJECT
The Bluebell Railway is on track for a major programme of growth and expansion, which will help preserve its operations for the future. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced today that they have awarded a Stage Two Pass comprising a grant of £2.875 million towards the Bluebell Railway's £3.9 million Operation Undercover construction project.
The project will deliver two new buildings on land adjacent to the Bluebell's headquarters at Sheffield Park station, East Sussex, both of which will provide important accommodation for the future development of the railway. The main building, comprising some 1600 sq m, will provide urgently needed weatherproof shelter for up to 17 historic passenger carriages from the Bluebell's heritage collection. Carriages which have been restored by the Bluebell's volunteers and staff to their original condition will in future enjoy protection from continuing decay caused by exposure to the weather.
In addition, a range of historic platform buildings will be restored to their original condition and extended to include a substantial Museum and interpretation area, with displays enabling visitors to understand the history of the railway and significant features of its operation and to enjoy the unique Bluebell experience. This will become a valuable educational resource and will greatly expand the opportunities for educational outreach to schools and colleges in the region, as well as providing an interesting attraction for the Bluebell's annual 180,000 visitors.
The project also includes provision of a new locomotive servicing facility built to modern standards for the maintenance of steam locomotive boilers, and new toilet facilities. An environmentally friendly sustainable drainage system allows for the collection of rainwater runoff from the roof of the carriage building to be reused in filling steam locomotive boilers. This will help to lessen the Railway's need to draw on local water resources and diminish the run off into the flood prone River Ouse.
Planning consent for the project has been received from Lewes District Council, and subject to agreement of final terms and conditions with planners and contractors, it is hoped to commence work on the project later this year with an estimated date of completion in mid 2010.
Sheena Vick, HLF Manager for the South East, said: "Visiting this very popular attraction, where the sight, smell and sound of steam brings the past to life, is a wonderful experience. This Heritage Lottery Fund grant will help to protect a unique collection for future generations of visitors to explore and enjoy."
Graham Flight, Chairman of Bluebell Railway Plc, said: "This is a major milestone in Bluebell's history. We are enormously grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the support and confidence they have placed in us by granting this award, and in giving us the opportunity to deliver this vitally important project to secure the continuing development of the Bluebell. The award comes as a just reward for six years hard work by the Operation Undercover team."
Welcoming this award, Nicholas Pryor, Project Director, said "I am delighted by the announcement of this award, which will give the Bluebell the opportunity to preserve its collection of historically important carriages and provide valuable opportunities for visitors to learn more about the importance of railways to our social and economic history. We have faced considerable obstacles in getting the project to this stage and we are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and their advisers for their continuing support and faith in the project throughout a protracted design and development stage. We would also like to thank our consultant team, Frankham Consultancy Ltd of Haywards Heath and Atkins Ltd of Epsom for all their hard work and support throughout the design stage of the project."
For more information about the Heritage Lottery Fund, please see their website: www.hlf.org.uk.
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