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North Wales railway benefits from lottery heritage funding

Loco No.1 Talyllyn filling up on water at Dolgoch Station

PLANS to preserve the heritage of a North Wales railway that inspired Thomas the Tank Engine and Brecon’s 1,000-year-old cathedral have taken a step forward.

It’s thanks to over £250,000 in developments grants that have been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Talyllyn Railway in Tywyn is getting a £110,000 award for its ‘Talyllyn Railway: Preserving Our Past Building Our Future’ project.

And Brecon Cathedral has secured £158,297 for its ‘People, Passion, Priory: Brecon Cathedral, The Heart and Soul of Community’ project.

The grants will allow the Talyllyn Railway Company and Brecon Cathedral to draw up detailed plans about how to deliver their projects and apply for delivery funding.

Talyllyn Railway: Preserving Our Past Building Our Future

Originally built to carry slate from Bryneglwys quarries to be exported across the world, the Talyllyn Railway was the first narrow gauge railway authorised by an Act of Parliament to carry passengers by steam.

Loco No.6 Douglas at Rhydyronen

Among its visitors was a young Wilbert Awbry who went on to write the Railway Series books, which famously feature Thomas the Tank Engine.

The ‘Talyllyn Railway: Preserving Our Past Building Our Future’ project is designed to boost income and provide financial security for the Railway by attracting more visitors.

As part of the plans, the main station building would be re-modelled, the shop and café improved, a new engineering works built and a display about the history of railway engineering created.

Stuart Williams, general manager of the Talyllyn Railway Company said:

“The Talyllyn is proud to be the world’s first preserved railway, part of the slate heritage of northwest Wales.  We want more visitors, as well as the local community, to experience this unique line and understand its heritage.

“Through the project we will increase our interpretation and key facilities, as well as providing volunteering opportunities for a wider range of people with differing skills.

“The railway has grown significantly since it was preserved in 1951, and, thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can approach our 75th anniversary confident that it can thrive, enhancing the economy locally and regionally.”

‘People, Passion, Priory: Brecon Cathedral, The Heart and Soul of Community’

This project hopes to attract more people – including tourists, to Brecon Cathedral with a new exhibition, a digital trail and a range of events and activities.

It will allow a wider range of people including families, young adults and disabled people to benefit from the cathedral’s unique and inspirational space and heritage.

‘People | Passion | Priory: Brecon Cathedral, The Heart and Soul of Community’ will also see improved access to the cathedral with a new west entrance and repairing four of the building’s 150-year-old roofs.

The repair work to the roofs is planned to be carried out by local people who will be trained through an NVQ Level 3 heritage roofing training programme.

The Very Reverend Dr Paul Shackerley, Dean of Brecon, said:

“Everyone at Brecon Cathedral is absolutely delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. It will transform our cathedral and what we can offer to our local community and those who visit from far and wide.

“The support will enable us to establish a national training scheme in heritage skills, interpret our rich and living history for new generations, and provide equal access to our building for all.”

Andrew White, Wales Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“Heritage is for everyone and it can be anything from the past that you value and want to pass on to future generations and The National Lottery Heritage Fund is one of Wales’ main funders of heritage organisations and heritage projects.

“We are thrilled to award project development funding to both of these exciting projects. This will allow both organisations to develop their plans so that they can apply to us at a later date for further funding to deliver these projects.”