North Norfolk Railway celebrates after £497,000 government cash boost
- Credit: Archant
A top tourist attraction will undergo a 'vital' revamp for next year's visitors following a £497,000 windfall.
The North Norfolk Railway (NNR), which runs between Sheringham and Holt via Weybourne, received the money from the government's Coastal Communities Fund.
It will use the money to flatten North Norfolk District Council's toilet block and Tourist Information Centre (TIC) at Sheringham station and rebuild better facilities further along the platform, to be run by railway staff.
The cash will also fund a new railway shop in the TIC base accessible from the station or street; an enlarged buffet area and extra carriage space at Sheringham; and purpose-built locomotive engine repair centre in Weybourne.
North Norfolk Railway managing director Hugh Harkett said: 'The project is vital for the North Norfolk Railway. We are finding it hard to cope with the numbers of people we get in the summer. If you come to the platform in an August afternoon you cannot move. Our platform buildings and facilities are not big enough. We have become a victim of our own success and are finding it hard to manage.' Mr Harkett added seven people will be employed in customer service, managerial and workshop roles.
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Last year the NNR transported a record 160,000 passengers.
Work on the new Weybourne engine centre will start in the next few weeks and could be finished within three months.
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It could employ up to three new staff, including apprentices, as well as attract more European engines.
'If we get more engines we will need more people to work in the centre,' Mr Harkett added.
Major work at Sheringham will start from this October and will need to be completed by April 1 next year.
During that time a heritage-style footbridge will be reinstated at Sheringham, paid for by £75,000 worth of donations.
The district council will provide a significant capital contribution, to be confirmed at its full council meeting on February 25, for new facilities.
Richard Shepherd, district councillor for Sheringham south, said: 'This is a magnificent coup for the North Norfolk Railway. The town and area will benefit greatly. What a day for the district.'
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb described the NNR as a jewel in the crown of the district's 'rich heritage'.