Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway receives second 'life-line' to cover pandemic losses


By Howard Smith

07 April 2021

The heritage railway is to receive a £71,800 in grant aid, following its bid application to the Department of Culture, Media and Sports.

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has received a welcome further Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage (CRFH) grant following its bid application to the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, according to a Government announcement on Friday 2nd April.

The Round 2 grant is for up to £71,800, which will help the 14-mile Cotswolds heritage railway in its recovery from enforced closures and cancellations thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. The railway reopens on Tuesday April 13 with a Covid-secure service, having remained closed over the important Easter holiday and comes at a time when the railway is preparing to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Round trips of the railway starting and finishing from Toddington station GL52 9HN are bookable via its website, but trains are of reduced capacity to permit social distancing. Full services and re-opening of the railway’s other stations at Cheltenham Racecourse, Gotherington, Winchcombe and Broadway are not expected to resume before the end of June, subject to continuing Government guidance.

In addition, Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited, which is based at the Toddington workshops of the GWSR, has received a second grant of up to £12,800 to support the ongoing £400,000 major overhaul of its 1942-built Great Western 2-8-0 locomotive No. 3850. Its first grant was for up to £26,100. The funds are designed to assist essential overhead costs through to June 30, 2021 and must be used by this date. The GWSR has seven staff and over 950 volunteers.

1450 and auto trailer 'The Coffee Pot'

In happier times, GWR 1450 and auto trailer, 'The Coffee Pot', travel the 14-mile route. JACK BOSKETT

Last year, the railway suffered a 77% drop in passenger numbers, through lockdown and reduced capacity of trains when they were able to run. A spokesman for the railway said, “The Culture Recovery Fund is a key initiative to help a wide range of heritage organisations recover and reopen from enforced closures and cancellations, designed to contain the virus and save lives. We are deeply grateful to the Government for recognising the importance of underpinning the security of Britain’s rich and diverse heritage, including the GWSR.”

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."

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