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Isle of Wight given £3m heritage boost

Wed 11 Jul 2012

Isle of Wight given £3m heritage boost

Isle of Wight Steam Railway and Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight have won major cash grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

In total, £3 million will be handed over to the island, with the Abbey getting £2 million and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway receiving £970,000.

Chairman of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway Steve Oates told Isle of Wight Radio that it is "transformational stuff" for the location, adding: "We are hugely indebted to HLF and to all those who gave so generously to our appeal."

It is more than 40 years since the opening of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and Mr Oates explained the money received by the organisation is going to be spent on "a new purpose-built structure which will not only protect and conserve so much of the collection we have built up".

Tourists on Isle of Wight holidays already flock to the steam railway and it is likely visitor numbers will be in for a boost once the work has been completed at the site.

Changing Trains will be made as an interactive visitor experience, which means it is sure to be beloved by children and their parents alike, as well as train lovers, once it is open.

"To be awarded a grant of this size is a huge acknowledgment of the skills, effort and dedication of our 300 volunteers and staff who work so hard to keep a little piece of island railway history alive for future generations to enjoy," added Mr Oates.

MP for the Isle of Wight Andrew Turner also welcomed the award of the £3 million from the HLF, noting congratulations must go to everyone from the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and Quarr Abbey for their hard work.

He pointed out the Changing Trains project is going to result in a rise in the number of people heading to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway during their time on the island.

"Those people will spend money out and about on the island, so this grant is good news for the Steam Railway and for the whole island," added the MP.

He also praised the work of those at Quarr Abbey, which he described as "an oasis of calm and peace in our hectic lives" that plays an important role in the history of the Isle of Wight.

The monastery is intending to use the £2 million grant from the HLF to create a new visitor information centre at the site, which will explore the story of the monks' life at Quarr Abbey, therefore deepening the understanding of tourists of the many facets of its history.

The Prior at the site, FrFinbar, stated everyone at the Abbey is "very pleased" to have been given the money by the HLF, with repair and conservation works of the abbey remains and existing abbey church also to be paid for by the grant.

"It makes possible the consolidation of the ancient Cistercian Abbey ruins and the further engagement of the present monastery with the public, while at the same time preserving our contemplative way of life," he said.

An education and volunteer programme is also going to be set up at the Abbey as a result of the grant from the HLF, with open air drama performances, as well as walking talks on bees and red squirrels, to be put on.

Mr Turner described the plan for the £2 million award for the Abbey - which has been home to monks for more than 100 years - as "imaginative" and stated it will help many people to find out more about the monks on the Isle of Wight.

Posted by Jon NobleADNFCR-3083-ID-801405518-ADNFCR

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