The South Devon Railway (SDR) announced on Friday 2 April that its recent Second Round bid application to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) ‘Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage’ (CRFH) for financial support has been successful.
The SDR will now receive a CRFH Round 2 grant of £165,900, all of which will help the seven-mile former GWR branch line recover from the enforced closure of the railway since March 2020 during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the SDR has also been informed today that it has been offered an additional award up to a maximum of £257,800 award to re-inflate its cash reserves to a value of eight weeks, based on average annual turnover and projected unrestricted reserves at July 2021, which is a further significant boost to the SDR.
The ‘Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage’ fund was created by DCMS to help heritage organisations nationally survive and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The success of this further CRFH application is fundamental to the immediate future of the SDR as it enables it, along with SDR support organisations, to prepare for the planned reopening of the railway on 17 May 2021 and beyond. More follows
The ‘Culture Recovery For Heritage’ grant will fund staff costs and essential overheads through to June 30 2021. Importantly, the grants are being distributed by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) in partnership with Historic England, based on criteria set by DCMS.
The funds have to be spent by this date and the SDR has put together an action plan to make sure that the organisation is viable in the future.
This includes a review of long-term objectives and strategy following the SDR’s huge £2 million loss of revenue last year, and the changed operating environment due to the pandemic as well as staff re-training, volunteer recruitment and boosting longer-term fund-raising for capital projects.
Commenting on the grant award, SDR Chairman Jon Morton said:
“We are all bowled over to have received this second round of grant support and offer towards our reserves thanks to the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Historic England. It’s really fantastic news for us and so greatly appreciated!
“It will certainly provide us with the additional vital financial lifeline needed for the railway’s continued survival, and we are confident that all of the projects to gain support will help get the much-loved steam trains of the South Devon Railway running normally again very soon, hopefully in May.
“From all sources, including these latest grants, we have now raised or received a wonderful total of financial help all told of £1,325,194.03 and we are still raising money to try and get to our next fund raising target of £2.0 million! More follows
“Also, we sold a valuable steam engine asset recently in ‘Dumbleton Hall’ which has added another useful six-figure sum to our war-chest for capital investment in the railway, so we’re well on the way now to hitting that target.
“This impressive total has been achieved via our own ‘SOS Appeal’ through donations, other grants and site income of £445,104.03; a smaller earlier Heritage Emergency Fund grant of £124,800; a larger initial CRFH grant of £332,300, and now this latest DCMS Culture Recovery Fund grant of £165,900, plus the DCMS Reserves grant of £257,800.
“All of this vitally needed money will be applied to safeguard the railway for the future and hopefully put us back on track for running steam trains in the future in 2021 and beyond, but we are not flush with money as some might now think – far from it!
“So, the really hard work for us starts soon, and we must carry on fund-raising for the future too, and like never before, in order to catch up with raising more cash for vital infrastructure investment which simply cannot be covered by our limited annual operating income alone.
“ We plan to do this in 2021 with the launch of our new share appeal and changed status as a Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS).
“Raising funds never ends for us because heritage steam railways are increasingly expensive to run, and our new CCBS status will help us to achieve keeping bold ambition of running GWR era steam trains well into the future.”
About the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage
At the Budget, the Chancellor announced the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund would be boosted with a further £300 million investment. Details of this third round of funding will be announced soon.
The Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund helps organisations to recover and reopen.
Nearly £400 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today (Friday 2 April).
Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
This brings the Government’s total investment across grants, capital and repayable finance from the Culture Recovery Fund so far to more than £1.2 billion across over 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organisations and sites.
The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.
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.”
About The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.
About Historic England
We are Historic England, the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.
To find out more about South Devon Railway