Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway receives lifeline grant.

Swale Tourism

9th October 2020

SKLR Latest News & Press Release:

Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund.

Almost 450 heritage organisations in England, including the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, have been awarded cash from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.

● Grants of up to £1 million will deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England with further support to follow and larger grants for capital projects awarded through the Heritage Stimulus Fund
● First major tranche of funding from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund

The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

445 organisations will share £103 million, including the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.

The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway will be installing additional security measures, vandal-resistant hand-washing and toilet facilities and an alternative entrance, avoiding the steps, which are a pinch-point affecting social distancing. Work will commence after the Railway closes for its winter break on 1st November. Due to Covid-19, there will be no Santa Specials this year.

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arms length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.
433 organisations will receive a share of £67 million from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage to help with costs for operating, reopening and recovery. This includes famous heritage sites across the country, from Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Blyth Tall Ship to the Severn Valley Railway, the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire to the Piecehall in Halifax. The funds will save sites that are a source of pride for communities across the country.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”

Paul Best, Vice-Chairman of the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, said: “We are delighted to be able to improve the safety and security of Sittingbourne Viaduct station, in addition to the £10,000 we have already spent on security fencing and to provide facilities that will enhance our Covid-19 arrangements and improve the station for the long-term. It is excellent news for our volunteers and passengers to know that the new facilities should be operational when the Railway reopens for the 2021 Season on Good Friday, 2nd April.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said:
“It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial. Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live. All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time. “Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet. But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

For more from the SKLR about the news and plans to spend the money go to the website