Boris Johnson predicts “glorious future” for Llangollen Railway

Prime minister Boris Johnson said in Parliament today that the Llangollen Railway (LR) has “a glorious future ahead.” It came on the same day the railway announced its Covid-19 appeal had received approximately £75,000 in share purchases and donations, helping to secure its future.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. NUMBER 10/CREATIVE COMMONS
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comment came during Prime Minister’s Questions on May 13. NUMBER 10/CREATIVE COMMONS

Mr Johnson’s statement came after the LR’s local Westminster representative, Simon Baynes MP (Conservative, Clwyd South), asked during Prime Minister’s Questions: “The hospitality and tourism businesses in my constituency of Clwyd South are vital for the health of the local economy, of which a very good example is the Llangollen steam railway. Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating the railway on its current restructuring and fundraising campaign designed to see it through the coronavirus crisis? After the crisis is over, will he please hop on board one of its steam trains when he is next in Llangollen?”

The Prime Minister replied: “I have a picture at home of myself and William Hague aboard the Llangollen steam railway, I am proud to say. I congratulate the group on what they are doing to raise funds. I have no doubt that they have a glorious future ahead with my hon. Friend’s support.”

Simon Baynes, MP for Clwyd South asked a question in parliament about the popular heritage line which runs in his constituency. RICHARD TOWNSHEND/CC BY

‘Amazing’ response from well-wishers

As previously reported, the LR warned it was a risk of closure last month due to the coronavirus crisis unless it urgently received donations from its supporters.

However, on May 13, LR general manager Liz McGuinness said: “Following eight weeks of uncertainty we wanted to give everyone an update on what has been happening here at Llangollen Railway. Firstly, we would like to thank everyone that has donated and purchased shares over the last few weeks. We have now received approximately £75,000 in share purchases and donations, including gift aid, which is amazing!

“We have also applied for the Resilience Grant from the Welsh Government and a Bounce Back Loan from the bank backed by the Government, but have yet to hear regarding either of these applications. Your generosity will help us to keep covering our overheads during this time.

“With listed buildings to maintain and engines needing regular servicing, like all heritage railways we are reliant upon our customers for an income and our income this year will be very much reduced.

“Our donations page will remain open for the foreseeable future and if you are in a position to help us further, we would be very grateful.”

Special events

As for the LR’s special events, Liz said: “So far we have cancelled all events and bookings to the end of June. We have rescheduled the Gin Train until September and the June Murder Mystery to November.

“With regards to other events, we are currently working a month at a time and will update these when we receive updates from the Welsh Assembly. Following the Government announcement at the weekend, we do not think we will be open before July 4. We all have to wait and see and hope things improve. The safety of our volunteers, employees and customers is paramount but, rest assured, we are working as hard as we can to ensure Llangollen Railway is still here for you to enjoy once life returns to normal!”

Support the coronavirus SOS appeal

Donate online at https://llangollenrailway.charitycheckout.co.uk/cf/covid-19-appeal . For taxpayers, donations can be boosted by 25% Gift Aid at no extra cost to you.

You can also use the following methods:

  • Make a bank transfer to Llangollen Railway Charitable Trust: Sort code: 53.81.03, Account number: 23423455
  • Call 01978 860979 for card payments.
  • Send a cheque made payable to Llangollen Railway Trust to: Llangollen Railway, The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen, LL20 8SN.

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