OPERATORS of the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway are celebrating after receiving £169,400 from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

Delighted volunteers and staff say today’s announcement is a vote of confidence in one of the UK’s most creative and fastest-growing heritage railways.

The funding will cover a wide range of costs including audience research to help the operating trust to prepare for the changes in public wants and needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Also included are costs of historic locomotive use, the staging of reopening events, from April 13, and promotions to local audiences.

Rob Shaw, Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Railway Museum Trust, said “We are thrilled to have been chosen as a recipient of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. The funding will mean that we can safeguard our beautiful railway and the community that exists to save it in 2021, which will be a very testing year for our industry.

“We are currently planning our reopening, and have already announced a number of special experiences from our first date of steam train services on April 13. Ticket sales enable us not just to survive but to develop our visitor offer further and to restore more of our vintage vehicles.”

Skipton MP Julian Smith, said: “Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway is an important part of cultural history for North Yorkshire.

“This grant will help secure the future of the railway and will provide the opportunity for more people to walk back in time, experience, learn and see first-hand how steam engines work in action whilst enjoying the stunning views over the Yorkshire Dales”.

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.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Exective of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said “Spring is definitely here, bringing not only sunshine but that sense of optimism and hope for the future. We are all looking forward to heritage places and other visitor attractions reopening and I am very pleased that we have been able to support the government in delivering this vital funding to ensure the UK’s heritage sector can rebuild and thrive, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “The value of our heritage sites and the people who run them has been amply demonstrated, as they have provided an anchor for so many of us through the dark days of the last year. Vital grants from the Culture Recovery Fund have helped them survive and will now help them recover, as the places we all cherish start to reopen in the months ahead.”

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England as well as the British Film Institute and Arts Council England.

The Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway operates on a former route of the Midland Railway and in normal years, welcomes tens of thousands of visitors every year.

The railway, operated by a team of volunteers and a small band of paid staff, is 4.5 miles long and is the base for a range of historic pieces of rolling stock including the 1887 Queen Victoria Saloon owned by associated organisation Stately Trains.

To book a visit to the railway, visit: www.embsayboltonabbeyrailway.org.uk