The Isle of Wight Steam Railway has won a place in the Final of the National Lottery Awards, and now goes through to the final round of voting with the chance of winning the top award in the Best Heritage Project category.
The winner will be announced during a live BBC1 television programme, currently scheduled for the evening of Saturday 4th September.
Working under the project title ‘Isle of Wight Railway Restoration’, the Havenstreet-based steam line reached the Final by topping the Heritage Projects category in the semi-finals against nine other Lottery-funded projects from around the country. To win the top award the Railway must now receive the most votes in a new nationwide public vote from 26th July to 13th August. Votes already cast in the semi-finals will not count in the Final, so the Railway is seeking major public support to ensure it flies the flag for the Isle of Wight and for Heritage Railways, by asking people to vote for ‘Isle of Wight Railway Restoration’ when voting opens on 26th July.
“Reaching the Final of the National Lottery Awards is a tremendous boost to our Railway”, said IW Steam Railway Chairman, Steve Oates. “It is a very fitting reward for the dedication and hard work of all the staff and volunteers who do so much to keep our piece of Island railway history alive. We very much hope that Islanders, supporters of Heritage Railways and the public as a whole will vote for us – And please remember, even if you voted for us in the semi-finals we need you to vote for us again please!
The Isle of Wight Railway Restoration Project, which is saving and restoring a unique and nationally important collection of Victorian and Edwardian carriages, is now one of only 3 projects to secure a place in the Final of the Best Heritage Project category of this year’s National Lottery Awards. The Awards themselves are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects, with the winners in each category will be announced on a live BBC1 television programme, currently scheduled for the evening of Saturday 4th September.
Each the projects in the running, including the IW Steam Railway, have already received Lottery funding and the Awards recognise and celebrate how they have put that money to good use. People on the Isle of Wight and fans of Heritage Railways are being urged to show their support by casting a vote to help the ‘Isle of Wight Railway Restoration’ project win.
The public can vote for ‘Isle of Wight Railway Restoration’ from Monday 26th July until Friday 13th August online at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards. A telephone voting line will also be available. The project in each category with the highest number of votes will receive a £2,000 cash prize to spend on their project.
The ‘Isle of Wight Railway Restoration’ project has restored Victorian and Edwardian passenger carriages and goods wagons, enabling residents and visitors to the Island to take a special journey ‘back in time’ on an authentic 100-year-old steam train, riding in beautifully restored and refurbished wooden-bodied carriages dating from the era of Queen Victoria. A registered educational charity, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is unique among Heritage Railways in the UK in regularly operating Victorian and Edwardian trains. Integral to the project, the Railway is keeping alive the disappearing skills of carriage restoration, and also makes considerable effort to involve local people in the restoration work and to promote the educational aspects of the Railway.
Steve Oates, Chairman of The Isle of Wight Steam Railway, says: “Our heritage railway has a unique collection of historic steam locomotives, Victorian and Edwardian carriages, and other rare rolling stock, all of which are recognised to be of national importance. Lottery funding is so vital to us; it has helped us to secure a fascinating piece of Island railway history, and to ensure we can continue to restore, preserve and operate these unique railway vehicles for future generations to enjoy. We’re really hoping the public gets behind us to vote as it would be a real boost to get national recognition for the work that we do.”
If ‘Isle of Wight Railway Restoration’ is the winning project in the Heritage category, the prize will fund the completion of the restoration and conversion of carriage 2403. Work on this carriage is already underway and will have seats for 70 passengers and spaces for 6 wheelchair borne visitors to be transported in Edwardian splendour.
This year’s National Lottery Awards are supported by actress Fay Ripley, who attended the Awards show last year. She says: “Lottery players raise £25 million every week, which funds projects and organisations that are making a real difference to people and communities across the UK. The National Lottery Awards recognise the amazing talent and hard work of the people involved in running Lottery-funded projects, so please get behind your local project and vote to give them your support.”
Background to the ‘Isle of Wight Restoration’ Project
In 2002 the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was granted £489,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the cost of restoring 9 historic railway carriages and wagons dating from the 1860s to the 1920s. The grant provided 75% of the funding towards the cost of a purpose built workshop and materials for the restoration of the vehicles. The Queen opened the Carriage & Wagon workshop in 2004 and travelled on a train of restored carriages. The first stage of the restoration is now complete and the public can travel on a train of Victorian railway carriages, hauled by a 130 year old steam engine. The second phase of the project to restore bogie carriages typical of trains on the Isle of Wight from the 1920s onwards is now underway. Part of this imaginative project is to restore and convert derelict carriage 2403, built in 1903, into a vehicle capable of transporting wheelchair borne visitors with their families and friends.
The Steam Railway believes it is important to retain and pass on the many dying trades of railway carriage building and restoration. John James, 67, a retired railway staff member from Wootton, still works at the Steam Railway on two days each week and passes on his skills to our apprentices and younger volunteers.
In 2005, the Steam Railway was also granted £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the overhaul of the boiler on the Railway’s 1891 locomotive No. 24 ‘Calbourne’. Work on rebuilding this historic Victorian locomotive is nearing completion and it is hoped that it will be back in steam shortly.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is an educational charity run by 260 volunteers and 20 full time staff. Visitors to the Steam Railway can travel in some of our previously restored carriages; the income from their fares helps fund the restoration of more of these unique vehicles.
In promoting its educational objectives, the Steam Railway maintains strong links with the local community. For example, in June this year, 100 guides and brownies from the Sandown and Shanklin area celebrated 100 years of the Guide Association by taking over the Railway for the day. The guides and brownies traveled in some of the restored Victorian carriages on the steam railway, and at Havenstreet found out how the railway works, practiced old skills such as semaphore, and participated in traditional guide and brownie activities. Last week, in a joint project with Carisbrooke Castle Museum, children from local primary schools were ‘evacuated’ to our main station at Havenstreet by train to experience the life of their wartime counterparts.
About The National Lottery Awards
The National Lottery Awards recognise the difference that Lottery-funded projects – both big and small – make to local communities, and celebrate the achievements of the people behind them. The Awards have seven categories – each reflecting an area of Lottery funding: sport; heritage; arts; environment; education; health (in association with iVillage.co.uk) and voluntary/charity (in association with Woman magazine).
Voting for the finals starts on Monday 26th July and ends on Friday 13th August. To cast a vote for the Isle of Wight Railway Restoration project log on to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards.