Wensleydale Railway kept afloat with emergency package from lottery

A private railway in the Yorkshire Dales has been kept afloat with an emergency grant of £50,000 from the National Lottery, in a package agreed within the space of three weeks.

“It’s a lifeline for us – literally a lifeline,” said Helen Ashworth, volunteer coordinator and lead fundraiser on the Wensleydale line, which runs through Bedale and Leyburn, to Redmire.

“It was all done incredibly quickly. It wasn’t the usual process at all,” Ms Ashworth added.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The railway has been closed since March and its staff furloughed, although a £380,000 restoration of the Leeming Bar station house has continued, with contractors doing the work.

The Wensleydale Railway at Leeming Bar. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

It says the cash injection will mean it can resume services as soon as it gets the green light from the Government.

Among the first trains to will be run will be two Pacers recently pensioned off from the national network. The so-called buses on wheels were despised by commuters but Ms Ashworth said their layout made them ideal for socially distancing passengers in the future.

“They’re perfect for a heritage railway,” she said. “We bought one for a few hundred pounds and a donor gave us another.”

The railway’s chairman, Guy Loveridge, said: “We’re grateful that the National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting us at this crucial time when we have no income with no running train services. It’s a lifeline to us and others who are passionate about sustaining heritage for the benefit of all.”

The Wensleydale Railway at Leeming Bar. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The National Lottery has “repurposed” up to £600m to support the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors. Its chief executive, Ros Kerslake, said: “All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.”

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

The Wensleydale Railway at Leeming Bar. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson, Editor

The Wensleydale Railway at Leeming Bar. Picture: Bruce Rollinson