After nearly two years of uncertainty, the Colne Valley Railway can now look forward to a secure future, thanks to a grant of over £1.75m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The sum of £1,757,200 has allowed the CVR to purchase its ¾-mile running line from its current owner, Australian businessman Christopher Young, together with Castle Hedingham station buildings and the line’s collection of rolling stock.
Now the CVR can press ahead with its plans for the site under the banner of its ‘All Aboard: Developing the Colne Valley Railway’ project. Also funded largely thanks to the HLF grant, topped up by a six-figure sum of match-funding, this includes a new museum and a carriage restoration skills centre.
As Mr Young is retaining part of the site, including the current visitor entrance, car park and events field, the grant has also permitted the railway to purchase additional land for a new car park and entrance building. With work on this expected to start in April – depending on weather conditions – the CVR has reached agreement to continue using the existing entrance for the 2017 season.
Chairman Paul Lemon described the railway as “ecstatic” at the news, paying tribute to the help of Braintree District Council as well as the HLF: “The support we’ve had from the HLF throughout the process has been phenomenal.”