A government grant of £217,500 has been awarded to Seaton Tramway so the visitor attraction can recover from the pandemic and reopen.
The handout was awarded as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund – almost £400 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations, cinemas, performance venues, museums and heritage sites across the country.
Seaton Tramway, which hopes to reopen on April 12, said the funding comes at a ‘welcome time’ because the charity has ‘had to endure huge losses’ during the coronavirus lockdown, closing its doors for around seven months since March 2020.
When the tramway was open to the public over summer 2020, social distancing resulted in the attraction running at a lower capacity to keep the site Covid secure.
Jenny Nunn, Seaton Tramway chief executive, said: “After another long period of national lockdown, we are delighted that the Culture Recovery Fund has awarded us a further £217,500.
“This will enable us to sustain the tramway going forward in what has been a really difficult and uncertain time for all considering visitor numbers were down seventy per cent in 2020, assisting with essential repairs, overheads and staff wages.”
She said the ‘main priorities’ had been to ‘protect the complex infrastructure, ensure projects started pre-pandemic are completed and maintain pre-Covid staffing’.
The registered charity has been operating in Seaton since August 1970 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020.
The attraction operates a three-mile track between Seaton and Colyton and has a fleet of 14 trams, which range in age from 1904 to 2007.
Included in the fleet are heritage trams which ran on the streets of London, Bournemouth and Exeter’s last surviving tram.
The second round of funding aims to help organisations plan for ‘reopening and recovery’ after months of closures and cancellations prompted by the pandemic.
Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, said: “Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.
“Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”
The National Lottery Heritage Fund said it was ‘very pleased’ to be able to support the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in delivering ‘vital funding’ to the UK heritage sector.