Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Museum to receive £ 37,832 from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

This award will be used to meet the costs incurred whilst the railway has been closed due to the Covid 19 pandemic and to help expand  the diversity of the Railway’s audiences, visitors, participants, and workforce

The Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard has received a grant of £37,832 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen.

More than £300 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country including The Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today.

The Leighton Buzzard Railway Museum is a museum accredited with Arts Council England and is recognised within the heritage railway community as having one of the most diverse and significant collections of industrial railway locomotives and equipment within the UK.   It is one of the few remaining railways in England built solely for industrial use. The railway was originally built using second hand track from the trench railways constructed in Western France during World War One.  The museum and the Society that supports it is an all volunteer organisation with no paid staff and has operated as a heritage railway since 1967.  The Railway is now operated as a tourist attraction with one of the largest and most important collections of narrow gauge steam and internal combustion locomotives in the UK.

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.


Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, 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.”


Terry Bendall, Chairman of the Society said: “This award will provide much needed financial support to help us meet the costs that have occurred during the time that we have been closed which included the curtailment of our popular Santa Specials and the delayed opening of our new operating season.  Although much of our usual expenditure had been placed on hold, some costs such as utilities, insurance and similar costs have to be paid, and we have a backlog of restoration and repairs to our historic fleet of locomotives which has had to be delayed due to the lack of income whilst we have been closed.  It will also enable us to expand our audience base.  Our application for Cultural Recovery Grant finding was helped significantly by help and advice provided by SHARE, the East of England museum support network and the Museum Development Office for Bedfordshire and we are very grateful for the advice provided by these sources.”



Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said:

“Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work. 

We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”


The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.