Plans for a new Railway Museum in Leicester are a step closer to being realised after £10 million of heritage lottery funding has been awarded to the scheme.
The Great Central Railway, the National Railway Museum and Leicester City Council are behind the plans for the brand new attraction called Mainline which will sit alongside the GCR’s Leicester North station.
Bill Ford, Managing Director of the Great Central Railway (GCR) said, “We are thrilled by the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”
“Main Line will combine our award-winning double track main line railway with a unique collection of priceless locomotives and objects, preserving them for future generations.
“The museum will not only tell railway stories, but will aim to engage people with their own history, so they are inspired to be heritage champions in future.”
The museum which will be fully accessible by rail will tell the story of how the railways helped Leicester become a thriving industrial city and will house locomotives, carriages and other railway artefacts from the national collection.
Floor to ceiling glass windows in the building will offer visitors close up views of heritage trains arriving at the station and allow visitors to experience the day-to-day workings of a heritage railway.
A development fund of £494,500 has also been awarded to help the partnership fully develop the proposals for the project and apply for a full grant at a later date.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This news means that we’re a step closer to creating an exciting new visitor attraction that will preserve and showcase the city’s rich railway heritage, while creating important new jobs.
“Main Line will house items which are of both national importance and local interest, complementing the nearby National Space Centre and Abbey Pumping Station and helping to enhance Leicester’s reputation as a visitor destination.
Paul Kirkman, director of the National Railway Museum said: “We’re delighted that the plans for this exciting project are firmly on track.
“Leicester had one of the world’s earliest railways and it was also a hub of the Midland line.
“The new museum will ensure that key parts of the national collection are accessible at the heart of the country for the first time, but just as important we hope to inspire a new generation to get involved in our nation’s railway story.
“This is a project with strong local connections but with benefits that will be felt nationally.”
Trustee at the Heritage Lottery Fund, Atul Patel said: “The Great Central has had a lasting impact on industrial and cultural life in this area and this investment will continue the railway’s important role.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, a world class museum will now be created providing a new home to some of our most significant objects and archives which together tell the story of the British railways. Alongside nearby attractions, the new museum will help to establish the city as a major tourism destination, and attract wider audiences.”
Main Line is one of nine projects in England and Scotland that’s due to benefit from nearly £100m of National Lottery investment. All the awards will help boost the nation’s scientific, industrial and cultural heritage for future generations.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: “National Lottery money continues to make an absolutely vital contribution to our culture and heritage in the UK. I’m thrilled that nine exciting projects across England and Scotland will benefit from this significant £98m investment.
“Whether it’s a new railway museum in Leicester, the Lovell Telescope at Cheshire’s Jodrell Bank or saving the UK’s most vulnerable sound recordings at the British Library, these grants will not only make a lasting difference to local areas and the UK’s wider heritage, but will also use culture to inspire young people to learn more about science and technology for generations to come.”