Full steam ahead for ‘World Class’ Snowdonia Heritage Railway after Lotto windfall
A narrow gauge steam railway crew, which traverses the spectacular Snowdonia countryside, famous after obtaining massive funding from the National Lottery.
The investment of Â£ 3,144,000 will enable Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railways projects to attract more visitors by providing ‘a high quality tourism experience’ and work and training opportunities for the local population. The recruitment of five people will begin next week.
It will also fund the restoration and conservation of buildings, including the Boston Lodge Works, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as “the oldest continuously operating railway workshop.”
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The funding has come less than a year since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the railroad into significant savings and a third of the workforce was laid off.
Supporters will provide an additional Â£ 900,000 in matching funding for the three-and-a-half-year project which, when completed, is expected to help attract up to 250,000 visitors per year to the 13-mile Ffestiniog Railway that runs from Blaen to Ffestiniog to Porthmadog and the 26-mile Welsh Highland Railway, which continues to Caernarfon.
The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railways, which became part of the UNESCO Slate World Heritage of North West Wales in July, attracts up to 200,000 visitors a year.
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When announcing the funding award, Andrew White, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said: to provide work and training opportunities for the local community and boost the economy of the North West of Wales by bringing an additional 50,000 visitors to the region each year.
âIn addition to the many economic and employment benefits of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, this project which focuses on the work of Boston Lodge is a great example of how heritage can help us understand who we are and where we come from and how the communities we are a part of have been shaped in the past by bringing history to life.
Paul Lewin, Director of Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railway, added: âWe are a Welsh railway and our history has been linked for 200 years to that of the local community.
âWe want to build on these existing links so that the local community can be proud and involved in the legacy of Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and Boston Lodge.
âThrough our project, we want to capture our stories and ensure that they are shared with future generations and that we continue to play our part in the economy and success of North Wales.
“Our railway has survived by adapting and adopting technology and with this investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we will do it again now to ensure that we are delivering a high quality tourism experience that brings a real benefit to the world. economy of North Wales. “
Opened in 1836, the Ffestiniog Railway transported slate from the Blaenau Ffestiniog slate mines to the Porthmadog docks and shipped it across the world.
The Ffestiniog Railway carried its last load in 1946, but in 1954 volunteers began to revive it and the Boston Lodge Works. Gradually, the line was reopened and Blaenau Ffestniog was reached again in 1982.
The Welsh Highland Railway was restored in the 1990s and the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways was established.
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