£24k grant for light railway ‘will boost local economy’
Along with match funding of £8,000 by owners of the Skegness Water Leisure Park, Ellis Bros. Ltd., of £8,000, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund grant will help provide £32,250 for the project.
Volunteers from the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway Historic Vehicles Trust. hope to start work in September this year to be ready for early autumn in 2024.
The grant has been made by East Lindsey District Council, which is administering the UK Shared Prosperity and Rural Prosperity Funding scheme in the area.
The Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway was the first heritage railway in the world to be built by enthusiasts on a greenfield site when it opened its original route in Humberston, south of Cleethorpes, on August 27, 1960, as “real public transport” connecting the local bus terminus to the beach and the Fitties Holiday Camp.
It was built using surplus rails, wagons and equipment from the Nocton Estates Railway, a 23-mile system which connected potatofields between the Bardney area and Nocton village in Lincolnshire, which in turn had been built using surplus equipment from the trench railways of the World War One battlefields.
The Humberston line closed in 1985 and after a period in store at Burgh-le-Marsh, relocated to the Skegness Water Leisure Park in 1992 to be rebuilt by volunteers,
reopening in 2009. Since then it has returned its 1903-vintage steam locomotive Jurassic to service; it has won many awards for its restoration projects and has operated a Royal Train for HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, on her visit to the Skegness Water Leisure Park in 2017.
Chief Executive Officer for Ellis Bros. and Company Secretary of the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway, John Chappell, said: “This is an exciting project for us to create a long term future for the railway and to enhance the existing achievements of the volunteers’ work.
“This contribution from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will enable Skegness to escape from the widely held perception that the town is some sort of ‘cultural vacuum’.”
Chairman of the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway Historic Vehicles Trust, Richard Shepherd, said: “This grant will enable us to create a ‘destination’ at the end of our line and let people learn about its unique history and heritage – at the moment trains terminate beside Skegness airfield but passengers cannot disembark.
“The grant will mean we can build a platform, with access from the train for disabled passengers and to place seating and an interpretation centre to tell the remarkable story of our line and its vintage locomotives, carriages and wagons and the role they played in the transport of goods and people in remote areas of Lincolnshire and beyond.”
“It’s an exciting prospect which will make the railway more attractive to visitors and so benefit the economy of the whole district. We are extremely grateful to the local authority, tothe Government’s fund and especially to Ellis Bros. Ltd for making this possible”.