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Diversifying your funding streams – examples from community rail

At Community Rail Network, we are keen to highlight examples of community rail partnerships and station groups securing funding from different sources.

Mark Miller of Hampshire CRP tells us more about acquiring Railway Heritage Trust funding for several projects in the CRP’s area.

How did you hear about the funding opportunity?

We had previously been aware of the work of the Railway Heritage Trust but had not approached them until we had a project in mind. When we required some help with refurbishing rooms at Swaythling Station (including replacing the original rotten floor and opening boarded windows), we approached one of the officers from the Trust and shared with them our plans. He advised that our project would be eligible for help, so we invited the officer to come down to view our ideas and the building in question.

What was the application process like?

The funding application form was straightforward – we just had to ensure we had ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the project, and detailed invoices of the works undertaken.

We also repeated this process for a couple of other projects at Woolston Station, where we refurbished and reinstalled some original Victorian railings across our community garden, and at Shawford Station, where we converted a redundant booking office into a community café.

What does seeking alternative sources of funding mean to your CRP?

The funding has made a significant difference to the CRP and work we have been able to deliver.  Quite simply, the Shawford Community Café project would not have taken place without the sizeable grant provided by the Railway Heritage Trust (40% of the total project costs). The smaller projects at Swaythling and Woolston would also have taken significantly longer to complete, as we would have to secure the relevant funding.

Do you have any advice for other CRPs looking to explore alternative sources of funding?

There are different pots of money out there, it is just a case of finding them! However, given the ongoing financial constraints, transport/rail/DfT funding is likely to be squeezed further. It is vital that CRPs do diversify funding sources to survive and keep providing the projects they wish to. We are now exploring a range of different sources including those within education, social services, train operating companies’ Customer and Community Investment Funds, private sponsorship and community café revenue to help keep us afloat as traditional sources of funding become less of an option.

Photo shows the refurbished Shawford Station.

If you have any further questions about Hampshire CRP’s renovation projects or would like to know more about applying for Railway Heritage Trust funding, please get in touch with Mark Miller.