York rail museum handed £18.5m from ‘biggest fund in a century’

The National Railway Museum. Picture:Charlotte Graham
The National Railway Museum. Picture:Charlotte Graham
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Yorkshire’s most popular visitor attraction will get a large slice of a £250m “culture investment fund” to be unveiled by the Government today.

The National Railway Museum in York, which attracted more than 820,000 people last year, has been guaranteed £18.5m from the pot, claimed by ministers to be the biggest one-off investment in museums and neighbourhood libraries in the last century.

Bradford's National Science and Media Museum. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Bradford's National Science and Media Museum. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The establishment is committed to a £55m expansion which will see a new Central Hall connecting its two existing wings.

The Culture Secretary, Nicky Morgan, told The Yorkshire Post that the money would “kickstart its radical transformation”.

Ms Morgan said: “The exciting new gallery and exhibition spaces will ensure the museum continues to be a huge draw for visitors and a wonderful celebration of our country’s railway heritage.”.

Judith McNicol, the museum’s director, said the fund was “wonderful news” for York.

“It is the springboard for unlocking our role as the cultural heartbeat of York Central – one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in Europe,” she said.

The new fund will see a total of £125m ploughed into regional museums around the country.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it would be delivered in tranches of £50m for each of the next five years.

Coventry, which will succeed Hull as the UK’s City of Culture in 2021, will get £7m from the fund.

Money will also go towards upgrading buildings and technology at public libraries.

Ms Morgan said: “The Cultural Investment Fund is the Government’s biggest-ever single investment in cultural infrastructure, local museums and neighbourhood libraries and will benefit communities across the country.

“This will help drive growth, rejuvenate high streets and attract tourists.”

The Arts Council, Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund will all have a say in how the cash is distributed.

Nick Serota, chairman of Arts Council England, said the cash was the result of “conversations over the past few months”. He added: “Towns and villages up and down England will benefit from investment in local libraries and museums, and in new jobs in our growing creative industries.”

Sir Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum Group, which includes the National Railway Museum and Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum, said the fund would “make a huge difference to regional museums”.