£1m grant gets railway back on track

A STEAM railway in Essex has been saved from closure due to a £1 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.The owner of Colne Valley Railway in Castle Hedingham is retiring and the future of the attraction looked uncertain.

A STEAM railway in Essex has been saved from closure due to a £1 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The owner of Colne Valley Railway in Castle Hedingham is retiring and the future of the attraction looked uncertain.

Now the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway Trust can buy it thanks to £999,500 of lottery funding.

The railway receives more than 40,000 visitors a year and is run by 120 volunteers. Now the Trust will be able to build on the conservation and education work that has taken place over the last 30 years and ensure the line continues to be run as a sustainable operation.


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It will also create a permanent base for the conservation and restoration of locomotives and rolling stock.

The deal includes four locomotives, two Pullman carriages, various wagons and carriages and 7.5 hectares of land with two former stations with platforms, two signal boxes, a crossing keeper's hut and visitor facilities.

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The original Colne Valley and Halstead Railway was built in the 1850s and funded by public subscription led by local industries. Halstead was a textile production base with the line providing transport to Colchester Docks, and the line was also used by the local brick making industry.

It was closed in the 1960s and fell into disrepair before being bought by a rail enthusiast in 1972, and the Colne Valley Railway Co Ltd. subsequently set up.

The railway has developed a good reputation as a local visitor attraction known for its education work and the Trust will now be able to build on that success.

Of the 40,000 annual visitors, 10% are railway enthusiasts and the remainder families or organised parties. There are usually about 7,500 children on school trips.

Jeremy Dunn, of the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway Trust said: “The announcement of this award is the culmination of 18 months of hard work to secure the Colne Valley Railway for future generations.

“The volunteers have put in many tens of thousands of hours over some 30 years to re-construct today's Colne Valley Railway from a green field site. It would have been unthinkable to have lost all that has been achieved had we been unable to secure this award and we are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for recognising the importance of the railway to both the local and wider communities.”

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