The East Somerset Railway (ESR) has received £46,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a new project.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on reinstating the former down platform and its characterful waiting room which were demolished by British Railways in the 1960's. The reinstated waiting room will be developed as an education and interpretation centre showing the history of the railway and its effect on local industry, people and businesses. Initial construction work is expected to start during the second quarter of 2018 and the education centre is planned to be opened at the end of the year.
The project will also enable volunteers and staff at the ESR to learn new skills and be trained in Oral History and Heritage Interpretation in order to better display the rich local history associated with the railway and (for example) its significant links to the local quarrying industry. This in turn will enable visitors and school parties to better understand the importance of the railways in the historical development of the local economy in East Somerset.
Cranmore station opened in 1858, it closed to passengers in 1963 and was once an important hub for the local quarrying industry. In 1973 famous wildlife artist the late David Shepherd opened part of the ESR as a heritage railway and with the end of freight traffic in 1985 it finally took over what remained of Cranmore Station. The railway has been further extended and developed as a tourist and heritage attraction and also provides steam locomotive and carriage overhaul/restoration services to other heritage railways.
Commenting on the award, Dick Masters, Chairman of the ESR board of trustees said: “To secure its future, the East Somerset Railway is planning some substantial investment which will fund a whole range of improvements aimed at giving our visitors more to enjoy from their visit. We are delighted to have received support, thanks to National Lottery players, which will make a big improvement to Cranmore Station. We are confident that the project will further enhance the heritage experience we can offer to our visitors, tourists, local people and school parties.”
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players this project will revive the heritage of Cranmore Station and create a vital space for people of all ages to develop their skills, learn something new and get involved with the history on their doorstep.”
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