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Press Release

Heritage Lottery Fund announces £2.9m stage one pass
for the Bluebell Railway's major building project

The Bluebell Railway is on track for an exciting future. The Heritage Lottery Fund announced today that they have awarded a Stage One Pass* with an indicative grant of £2.935 million (including development grant) towards the Bluebell Railway's £3.9 million Operation Undercover building project.

The project will deliver a 23,000 sq ft building on land recently purchased by the Railway adjacent to its headquarters at Sheffield Park station, East Sussex. This building will provide urgently needed weatherproof shelter for up to 30 carriages and locomotives from the Bluebell's historic collection. Locomotives and carriages restored by the Bluebell's volunteers and staff to original condition will be protected from continuing decay caused by exposure to the elements. It will also give visitors access to more of the collection when not in daily service.

Photo of model of buildingThe building will include a substantial 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.

Carole Souter, Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "Visiting this very popular attraction, where the sight, smell and sound of steam brings the past to life, is a wonderful experience. We are proud to be supporting new plans that will help protect a unique collection for future generations of visitors to explore and enjoy".

Graham Flight, Chairman of Bluebell Railway Plc, said: "This is another milestone in the continuing history of the Bluebell Railway, and shows the high regard in which the Railway is held. We are honoured by the confidence the Heritage Lottery Fund have placed in us by granting this award, one of the largest ever made to the heritage railway sector, and in giving us the opportunity to deliver this important heritage project".

Welcoming this award, Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, said "The Bluebell Railway is an important and valued part of the local economy and a major heritage and tourist attraction for the South East. I am delighted by the announcement of this award, which will give the Bluebell the opportunity to preserve its collection and provide valuable opportunities for visitors to learn more about the importance of railways to our social and economic history".

Santa Train 2004 - Jon Bowers

* 'Stage One Pass' means that the project may progress to Stage Two. On occasion, development funding will also be awarded towards the development of the scheme. A Stage One Pass does not guarantee that the applicant will be awarded a grant but it is a positive indication that, provided the project is developed further along agreed lines, it is likely to receive support.
See also:
The Operation Undercover web pages.
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