The Isle of Wight Steam Railway and Quarr Abbey have both received a cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Abbey is to be given £2million and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway £970,000.
Click above to listen to Steve Oates from IW Steam Railway, Father Gregory from Quarr Abbey and Alastair Fairley from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
"The Two Abbeys"
On the World Monuments Fund Watch list and of international historic importance, Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight is a true heritage gem. The 80 hectare site contains three listed structures of different eras: the French/Moorish styled 'modern' abbey, designed by Dom Paul Bellot in the early 20th century (Grade I); the abbey's remains (Grade II) - dating back to 1132AD when the original Cistercian Abbey was founded; and the medieval abbey precinct walls (Grade II and dating to the 1360s). Benedictine monks continue to live in The Abbey, which also features a Victorian mansion and gardens, while the estate also forms part of the IoW AONB, the Solent and Southampton Water (Ryde Sands and Wooton Creek) Ramsar and SPA, and Fishbourne Copse SSSI.
HLF funds will create a new visitor information centre which will explore the story of the monks’ life at Quarr Abbey and deepen visitors’ understanding of the many facets of its history. Repair and conservation works of the abbey remains and existing abbey church, will be accompanied by an education and volunteering programme, training placements in construction for local colleges students, and open air drama performances, walking talks on bees and red squirrels, and much more so that people of all ages, local and visitors alike, can get involved.
FrFinbar, the Prior, said:
"We are very pleased to have been awarded a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It makes possible the consolidation of the ancient Cistercian Abbey ruins and the further engagement of the present monastery with the public, while at the same time preserving our contemplative way of life."
Isle of Wight Steam Railway - 'Changing Trains'
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway has one of the World’s most important collections of historic railway rolling stock, with over 80 locomotives, carriages and wagons, the oldest dating back to the 1860s. Now, with support from HLF, a new 2,000 square foot engine and rolling stock shed will conserve and safeguard these precious items for future generations, protecting them from the elements and housing them on four tracks with platforms and walkways between them, all brought to life by volunteer guides in an exciting interactive visitor experience. From ‘The Beach Hut Carriage’, which will tell the story of how a historic carriage survived, to the story of former wartime female railway guard, May Joyce, who met and married an engine driver there will be a host of new interpretation for people of all ages.
IW Steam Railway Chairman, Steve Oates said:
"This is transformational stuff for the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. We are hugely indebted to HLF and to all those who gave so generously to our appeal. After 41 years of operating and growing our railway we will soon have a new purpose-built structure which will not only protect and conserve so much of the collection we have built-up, but also provide a wonderful new attraction for our many visitors. To be awarded a grant of this size is a huge acknowledgment of the skills, effort and dedication of our 300 volunteers and staff who work so hard to keep a little piece of Island railway history alive for future generations to enjoy".
Island MP Andrew Turner welcomed the news of the two awards:
"Congratulations are due to all the hard working staff and volunteers at The Isle of Wight Steam Railway and Quarr Abbey. These grants are recognition of how important their work is. The Steam Railway is a very popular part of the Island's tourism experience, and Changing Trains is an exciting project which will attract even more visitors. Those people will spend money out and about on the Island, so this grant is good news for the Steam Railway and for the whole Island. I am very much looking forward to seeing the project take shape and visiting it when it is complete.
"Quarr Abbey meanwhile is an oasis of calm and peace in our hectic lives and it plays an important part of the history of the Island. Many people will be interested to find out more about the life of the monks, both in times gone by and the present day. This imaginative project will also help Island youngsters gain skills in traditional building techniques and will benefit the wider community in a number of ways, so this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund is very welcome."