This summer, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded just over £3.6m in grants to three key visitor attractions across Cumbria, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.
The investment will see Carlisle Cathedral opened up and extended; a rare steam engine brought back into use at Kirkby Stephen East station; and huge improvements made to the water quality and habitats of Coniston Water and the River Crake in the Lakes.
Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “Whether it’s the stunning architecture of its cathedrals, beautiful rolling landscapes or steam trains roaring through the countryside, Cumbria has it all. And, as the Lake District nears UNESCO’s decision on its World Heritage Site bid this July, visitors and local communities alike are set to reap the rewards of National Lottery funding thanks to these three projects at some of the region’s most popular historic treasures.”
Bringing Untold Stories to Life for Everyone (Carlisle Cathedral) – £1,918,500 grant
Dating back to 1122, Carlisle Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest buildings. This exciting new project will restore and extend the Fratry at the heart of the Cathedral’s Grade I listed precinct and unlock a wealth of stories to bring to life its unique and turbulent history.
The Dean of Carlisle, the Very Reverend Mark Boyling said: “We’re delighted that we have received this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Cathedral is open and active every day of the year and we need the right facilities if we are to meet the needs of the many people from the city and far afield who come to this must-see location with a message. It is good to know that we will be able to reach more people in new ways.”
Used as a dining hall in the medieval period, the Fratry will once again become a hub for the community as it is transformed into a multi-purpose, accessible community and learning space with improved interpretation and new facilities including a café. Urgent repair works will also be carried out to support the conservation of this nationally important heritage site.
A full time Heritage and Learning Officer will oversee care and digitisation of the Cathedral’s historic 17th century library, deliver a training programme for volunteers, and an activities and learning programme for schools and the local community.
The Cumbrian Victorian Locomotive Experience – £954,900 grant
Thanks to National Lottery players, Kirkby Stephen East (KSE) station – the main tourist attraction in the area and entirely run by volunteers – will be transformed. The project will return a Victorian locomotive (J21 number 65033 – built in 1889 and the last one remaining) to steam and create a new Heritage and Interpretation suite in an Edwardian railway stores van.
Locomotive Conservation and Learning Trust Chairman Toby Watkins said: “This is fantastic news for the Trust, our partners the Stainmore Railway Company at KSE, and for the town of Kirkby Stephen. This superb investment by the Heritage Lottery Fund will transform KSE into a leading Cumbrian tourist attraction and will be a tremendous boost for the town.”
To be run by the Locomotive Conservation and Learning Trust (LCLT) and the Stainmore Railway Company (SRC), the new exhibits will explore 200 years of rail in Cumbria, with an action-packed programme of events on offer for families, schools, local Scout groups and volunteers. It is planned that J21 will be in steam for 21 days a year on special event days. Keep an eye on website for details.
Conserving Coniston & Crake: caring for water from mountain to shore – £763,300 grant
One of the Lake District’s most famous lakes, Coniston Water, is to become the focus of a new campaign to improve its water quality, habitats and biodiversity. The scheme, spearheaded by the South Cumbria Rivers Trust (SCRT) and Coniston & Crake Catchment Partnership (CCCP) will preserve at-risk species such as Atlantic Salmon and European Eels, improve habitat in and around the watercourses of the Coniston & Crake Valley; restore Coniston Water’s reed beds; reduce unwanted nutrients; and control invasive species to protect natural habitats under threat.
Conserving Coniston & Crake Project Officer Charlotte Hall commented: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. The Coniston and Crake Valley is a beautiful place to live, and very popular with visitors. However, the lake, river and becks are under threat. This local community project will help raise awareness of the issues and make sure that we have the clean water and habitats to support our native plants and wildlife for the years to come.”
SCRT will work closely with local communities to engage people in understanding the sensitive local ecology of the area, through a new programme training volunteers in habitat management and conservation; a schools learning programmes; artist-led activities; oral history and photography; public talks; and the development of a project website and use of social media.
Initial funding of £174,500 has also been awarded to the University of Cumbria for its South Cumbria Species Restoration Project, which is now in development to improve the Morcambe Bay environment.
HLF has supported 635 projects to date in Cumbria totalling just under £115m investment into the area since 1994. To support the Lake District’s World Heritage status bid, due to be announced 31 July, visit http://lakesworldheritage.co.uk/