Car 9 HalfwayAfter years of waiting for a financial breakthrough, Volk’s Electric Railway has been awarded £1,593,800 by the Heritage Lottery Fund following a successful bid in 2013 by Brighton & Hove City Council. 

The award is available in two stages over a period of three years; the first being the ‘project development phase’ lasting one year for which a grant of £96,000 has been made and the second being the ‘construction’ phase, which must see all the work completed by March 2017. 

For the first stage a Project Manager will be appointed, whose task it will be to bring together all the plans, designs, educational developments and technical specifications for presentation to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  This part of the award will be completed by June 2015.  As long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, then the balance of the award will be confirmed.

The money will be used to:

  • Provide a purpose-built heritage visitor centre and ticket office at the Aquarium station, replacing the existing ex-Brighton Corporation tramway shelter that was placed there in the late 1940’s.
  • Create a new depot (running shed) at Halfway with a viewing gallery, new maintenance pits and restoration facilities.
  • Restore three of the cars, Nos. 4, 6 and 10 to full working order to increase the service capacity.
  • Develop new learning materials and educational sessions for schools.

Volk’s Electric Railway Association is already closely involved with Brighton & Hove City Council and will play a key role in ensuring that the designs and specifications are appropriate for our unique electric railway.

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chair of the city’s economic development and culture committee, said: “Volk’s is truly unique part of Brighton & Hove’s heritage and a wonderful attraction, so this funding success is fantastic news. We can now give the railway the tender loving care it deserves and provide an even better experience for visitors and school parties. It’s also a tribute to staff and volunteers, past and present, whose dedication has kept the railway on track for 131 years.”

 The railway’s manager, Stuart Strong, said: ‘It is going to be an amazing time ahead for me after 21 years of every day seeing the bigger picture, but not having the funding we needed.  I feel so lucky to still be here to see it unfold and to take everyone along on this exciting journey’.

VERA has waited a long time for this defining moment, when we can look forward to not seeing scaffolding on the shed roof, not seeing cars lying out of service and perhaps even restoring the two passing loops to their original purpose.

Not so far mentioned is car No.3.  The old chassis lies outside the shed but inside, tucked away in a cold and dark corner of the existing shed, a new chassis is being constructed.  VERA volunteers will be taking on the rebuilding of this car and further news will be released later in the year.

Author: Volks