6th September, 2019 by East Somerset Railway
The East Somerset Railway (ESR) has been awarded £58,700 from Tthe National Lottery Heritage Fund (HF) for an exciting project in Cranmore, Somerset.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on renovating and refurbishing the former 1858 station building as a museum, reinstating the second half of the "down" platform and making the heritage attraction "Dementia Friendly" via improved access arrangements and staff training. The completed down platform will enable access for people with reduced mobility to the Discovery Centre provided under the previous grant and this will be complemented by a renovated and refurbished museum. Initial renovation and construction work is expected to start during the last quarter of 2019 with the museum reopening in 2020 followed by events targeted at people living with dementia and their carers.
The project will also enable volunteers and staff at the ESR to be trained as "dementia friends" in order to assist general visitors and parties including those living with dementia to have a positive and enjoyable experience. This in turn will enable a wider range of visitors to better understand the importance of the railways in the historical development of the local economy in East Somerset.
Cranmore station opened in 1858, it closed to passengers in 1963 and was once an important hub for the local quarrying industry. In 1973 famous wildlife artist the late David Shepherd opened part of the ESR as a heritage railway and in 1985 it finally took over what remained of Cranmore Station. The railway has been further extended and developed as a tourist and heritage attraction and also provides steam locomotive and carriage overhaul/restoration services to other heritage railways.
Commenting on the award Dick Masters, chairman of the ESR board of trustees said: “To secure its future, the East Somerset Railway is in the process of making some substantial investments which will fund a whole range of improvements aimed at giving our visitors more to enjoy from their visit. We are delighted to have received support, thanks to National Lottery players, which will make a big improvement to Cranmore station. We are confident that the project will further enhance the heritage experience we can offer to our visitors, tourists, local people and those people living with dementia or reduced mobility.”
Anne Martin, chair of Shepton Mallet Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) also commented " This is wonderful news for all who know and love the railway - and those who will know it because of the National Llottery grant. The Mendip DAAs will be ready to help the ESR in whatever we can to make the project a success."
Stuart Hobley, Area Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “This year, the National Lottery celebrates its 25th birthday. During that quarter of a century over £7.9billion raised by National Lottery players has been invested into projects saving and sharing the UK’s heritage.
“I’m delighted that East Somerset Railway is among them. This project will help to secure its future and ensure as many people as possible can enjoy the heritage and stories it has to offer.”