Heritage sites benefit from government Culture Recovery Fund handout

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Gloucester CathedralImage source, Getty Images
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English cathedrals, including Gloucester, received handouts from the Culture Recovery Fund

More than 450 heritage organisations are set to share the first wave of a £1.57bn government handout to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Culture Recovery Fund is aimed at securing the future of museums, galleries and heritage sites.

Sites to receive funding from the first tranche of £103m include Blackpool's Winter Gardens, the Severn Valley Railway and Gloucester Cathedral.

Historic England called the funding an "essential lifeline".

A total of 455 organisations across England will receive cash aimed at keeping venues open and supporting those working in the heritage sector.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the grants of up to £1m would "deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England".

It said a further round of grants of up to £3m would be announced soon.

Organisations, including English Heritage, the Landmark Trust and Historic Royal Palaces, will receive £34m from the Heritage Stimulus Fund to restart conservation and maintenance.

Many conservation projects were put on hold when visitor attractions were shut during the lockdown, threatening the livelihoods of heritage contractors and specialists.

Image source, Getty Images
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Blackpool's Winter Gardens receives a grant of £846,600

Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said the pandemic meant conservation work on its six properties - including Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London - was stopped.

"The grant we have received will enable to this work to resume - so we can give some of Britain's most historic buildings the care and attention they deserve, while supporting the specialist craftspeople who are vital for the future of our national heritage."

Among others set to benefit are the Portsmouth Naval Base Trust, which has been awarded £698,600, while the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall is due to receive £606,400 and Manchester's Victoria Bath Trust £156,000.

Image source, Andrew PM Wright
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Attractions like the Swanage Railway reported being on a financial knife-edge due to the pandemic

Beneficiaries also include sites familiar to some viewers as locations in famous TV series and films, such as Gloucester Cathedral, used for the Harry Potter films, which is set to receive £200,000 and Highclere Castle, the setting of ITV's Downton Abbey, which has been awarded £72,000.

Heritage Railway lines, including Swanage Railway in Dorset, Spa Valley Railway in Kent and Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in West Yorkshire, have also been awarded grants.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past.

"This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post-Covid."