CHRISTMAS came early for the Colne Valley Railway in the form of a £1,757,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which means its future is secured.
The bulk of the money was needed to buy the freehold of the site from its Australian landowner, businessman Christopher Young, who had earlier shocked the railway by giving it notice to quit at the end of 2015 so it could be sold for redevelopment.
The decision sparked a hunt for an alternative site for the railway, which was founded in 1974, with around 30 other sites being considered.
However, as reported in issue 205, Mr Young made a U-turn and agreed to sell the section of the original Colne Valley & Halstead Railway trackbed that he owns to the CVR Preservation Society, a registered charity. Included in this sale is his rolling stock, the buildings, track and all other materials from the present site.
The lottery grant also covers the All Aboard: Developing the Colne Valley Railway (CVR) project, which includes development of the Cubitt Skills Centre, a three-road workshop which will become a centre of excellence for the overhaul and restoration of carriages, wagons and possibly locomotives, taking on staff and apprentices, and the Brewster Interpretation Centre, which will tell the story of the railway and the local community using the latest developments in museum displays .
Read more in Issue 223 of Heritage Railway