HLF withdraws funding for Great Central museum

The Heritage Lottery fund will no longer be funding the proposed National Railway Museum outpost at the Great Central Railway.

 An artist’s impression of the proposed £18 million National Railway Museum outpost, which is to be built near Leicester North on the Great Central Railway. WILKINSONEYRE/GCR

An artist’s impression of the proposed £18 million National Railway Museum outpost, which is to be built near Leicester North on the Great Central Railway. WILKINSONEYRE/GCR

In 2015, the Main Line museum project, which is intended to be built near Leicester North station, secured a first round pass for £9.5 million from the HLF, subject to the Stage Two submission.

However, the HLF announced on December 13 that, owing to concerns about the stage of development of the project, and perceived delivery risks, it would not be providing the funding requested.

The GCR’s Managing Director, Michael Gough, said: “We were genuinely astonished to hear the news about the HLF’s decision on our round two funding and I have to question their rationale. Since joining the GCR, in July of this year, I have been highly impressed by the support that the project had from the City Mayor and his team and I was confident that the strength of our combined proposal would be a winning solution. 

“Our proposal to HLF Nottingham consisted of, as requested by them in October 2017, a comprehensive strategy and action plan from the city council, and a detailed business plan from the railway. Taken together this provided an approach that had almost zero risk.

“We will now explore a number of alternative plans. In the meantime, I can’t help but feel hurt that Leicester appears to have been overlooked yet again.”

Leicester’s City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, said: “We are obviously very disappointed, but this is not the end of the project. We remain committed to it, and the challenge now is for us to find a Plan B and an alternative source of finance.

“The project has been enormously strengthened since the first submission was made, and with the city council’s experience of managing such projects this would be a very low-risk for the HLF. It has the potential to be of great economic benefit to the city and the region and I can only imagine that the HLF is over-committed elsewhere and needs to claw this money back for other projects.”

Scheduled to open in 2021 and house National Collection exhibits including LNER ‘V2’ No. 4771 Green Arrow and ex-GCR ‘Improved Director’ No. 506 Butler Henderson, the museum is a partnership between the GCR, the NRM and Leicester City Council.

The winning design for the £18 million museum, submitted by architects WilkinsonEyre, was revealed on October 26 2017. It was one of six designs shortlisted.