Leicester Mercury

Half-a-million to help get tourist attraction back on track


- By TOM MACK thomas.mack@reachplc.com @T0Mmack

THE Great Central Railway has been given more than £500,000 to help it bounce back from the coronaviru­s lockdown.

The railway, running between Loughborou­gh and Leicester, is a big tourist attraction but has been unable to run during much of the past year, costing it about £3 million in lost revenue.

Yesterday, more of the charities and organisati­ons getting cash from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund were announced – and it includes £515,700 for the heritage steam railway.

The grant, covering the period from April to June this year, will support the organisati­on with the costs it faces as it starts to welcome back visitors and makes the transition towards full reopening.

Michael Gough, the Great Central Railway’s managing director, said: “I cannot emphasise enough how much of a shot in the arm this is for us at such an incredibly difficult time.

“While we have successful­ly navigated the crisis thus far, the impact of Covid-19 has dealt the railway a £3 million income reduction blow in the past 12 months and this grant will significan­tly assist in the funding of actions we need to carry out to re-open Covidsecur­e and in line with government guidance.

“It will support us in the complex process of transition­ing from months of lockdown and significan­t restrictio­n and to return to the previous sustainabl­e business model of welcoming over 110,000 visitors each year through our doors.”

More than £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performanc­e venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisati­ons dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Piccadilly Cinema, pictured below, in Green Lane Road, Spinney Hills, Leicester, has been given a small grant of £1,602 to make up for its lost income over the pandemic.

The Culture Recovery Fund has so far earmarked about £1.2 billion of its total money for more than 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organisati­ons and sites.

The second round of awards announced yesterday is intended to help organisati­ons to look ahead to the summer and plan for reopening and recovery.

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