£1.5 million makeover for world's oldest electric railway
The oldest surviving electric railway in the world will get a £1.5 million makeover.
The Volk’s Railway, which runs for a mile along Brighton seafront from Palace Pier to Black Rock was the first public electric railway in the country when it opened in 1883.
Over the years volunteers and council staff have worked to keep the railway running.
But with time inevitably taking its toll on the landmark line, Brighton and Hove City Council and the Volk’s Electric Railway Association have secured £1.54 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to rejuvenate the attraction and create opportunities for education and community involvement.
A spokesman for the association said the money would be used to restore and reinstate three of the original carriages to increase the railway’s capacity.
It will also pay for a visitor centre at the aquarium station to give a history of Magnus Volk and how he came up with his pioneering railway.
The money will also be used to create a conservation workshop to protect the historic carriages, create a place to watch restoration work being carried out, provide training for volunteers and develop new learning materials and school sessions.
Peter Williams, spokesman for the Volk’s Electric Railway Association (VERA), said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the historical and national importance of Magnus Volk’s railway by awarding this substantial grant.
“There is now the opportunity to restore the railway to its former glory and to finally say goodbye to the old, draughty and leaking train storage sheds. VERA looks forward to developing the project with the council over the next three years.”
TV presenter Nick Owen, who has volunteered with the association for years, said: “This is fantastic news.
The railway needs all the help it can get and this will help guarantee the future of what is one of Brighton’s most important attractions.
“It’s also great news for the small number of dedicated staff who work on it, and the volunteers who so willingly assist them.”
Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the city’s economic development and culture committee, said: “Volk’s is truly unique, part of Brighton and Hove’s heritage and a wonderful attraction, so this funding success is fantastic news.”
The railway restoration project is expected to be completed in 2017.