Railway boost?

A NEW ‘Survive and Thrive’ fund and award scheme could offer the Caledonian Railway, among other attractions, financial security for the next three years.

The move by the local authority to establish the scheme comes to “acknowledge and support the contribution to cultural heritage tourism by voluntary groups which manage visitor attractions in Angus.”

A total fund of £200,000 was earmarked in the Angus Council budget earlier this month and will go towards helping organisations in this particularly troubled economic time.

Ron Ashton, director of neighbourhood services, said: “A number of voluntary groups have made a significant contribution to the cultural heritage tourism sector in Angus, including the Caledonian Railway Brechin, Glenesk Folk Museum, Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre and Monifieth Local History Society’s House of Memories.

“While each of these heritage attractions brings several thousand visitors annually to Angus, in common with a number of other organisations they are all in need of resources to improve their facilities for visitors.

“We have supported the various members of the Angus Museums and Heritage forum with marketing, training and shared information and artefact loans and have also provided curatorial advisors to both Glenesk Folk Museum and Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre.

“This advice has enabled these two organisations in particular to achieve acredited museum status.”

It is anticipated that the funding will help each group over the course of the next three years.

At the Caledonian Railway there is potential to make physical improvements to Brechin railway station, a listed building, and perhaps also to conserve and repair their historic rolling stock.

In Glenesk, council officers have examined the finances of the folk museum and have discovered that it is running at an annual operating loss.

The funding, anticipated to be granted as three annual instalments could go some way to helping with this problem.

The funding could also be used to assist with meeting the cost of a replica Spitfire at the Montrose Air Station.

In Monifieth there is potential for the Historical Society to make improvements to their visitor facilities and upgrade displays in the House of Memories.

Mr Ashton said: “The funding mechanism generated by this Survive and Thrive initiative will provide a much needed boost to the local voluntary cultural attraction sector.

“It is a clear demonstration of the council’s commitment to using innovative ways of increasing the capacity and sustainability of such voluntary organisations which have already proved their worth in attracting visitors to Angus.”