81 projects across 78 historic sites are set to receive a share of £4.5 million through Historic England, from Round 3 of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. This February 2022 further round of funding will ensure essential repairs and restoration can be completed and help bring heritage sites back to life by supporting major building programmes, safeguarding jobs, and generating employment.
A new report from Historic England (November 2021) reviews the impact of COVID-19 on heritage railways and some of the valuable lessons learned which are relevant to the rest of the heritage sector.
Heritage railways experienced wide-ranging challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. However, some have demonstrated notable resilience in face of these difficulties, benefiting from strategies that they have employed themselves or that have been implemented by the heritage railway sector at large.
The study draws upon primary evidence generated by interviews with seven representatives of heritage railways across England and a set of contextual secondary sources. The report highlights a selection of the approaches adopted during the pandemic in order to support individual railways and the sector as whole, from accessing public funds, fundraising through online donations, and philanthropy, to investment in IT infrastructure, outdoor opportunities and developing flexible revenue streams, effective crisis management, and engaging with supporters and volunteers.
Finally, the study discusses the wider applicability of these approaches across the heritage sector to support better resilience to known and unexpected challenges in the future.
The second online Industrial Heritage Network meeting was held on 20th November 2020 by the North West IHN group. 15 people joined that meeting. Shane Gould of Historic England talked about current developments relating to Industrial Heritage. The current IHSO, Mike Nevell, then brought everyone up-to-date with the project and some of the impacts of COVID-19.
Mike noted that in October, 10 industrial heritage organisations in North West England received £1.21 million from the Cultural Recovery Fund. This was split into £0.41m from Arts Council England and £0.8m from Historic England. The grants were to support a variety of industrial heritage sites including the British Commercial Vehicle Museum, Catalyst, Leigh Building Preservation Trust, and the Ribble Steam Railway.
Members then discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their work from volunteering to maintenance and visitor numbers. Only 50% of protected industrial heritage sites in England open to the public were able to re-open their doors after the first pandemic. More than 50 sites decided in July and August not to open at all during 2020. Most of these were smaller, largely volunteer-run, industrial heritage sites.
In general IHN NW members recorded no drop-off in volunteer numbers and enthusiasm, despite the first lockdown and continuing restrictions across much of the North West. Tim Kirker of the Calderdale Industrial Museum noted that although the museum was closed in the first lockdown, volunteers were keen to return once it re-opened. Anthony Pilling of the Heritage Trust for the North West also noted a strong desire by volunteers to continue to help, even during lockdown and even though some of their sites remained closed after July. Tony Nixon of Bancroft Mills also observed that whilst they were unable to open to the public after the first lockdown the entirely volunteer-run museum has continued to function with strong volunteer support. Andrew Fielding of ECOSAL commented that virtual meetings were a very useful way of staying in contact with volunteers and that such meetings were not only financially beneficial, but also reached a wider audience.
Finally, Mike Nevell noted that during the first lockdown the UK Government had issued guidelines for safe COVID-19 working by volunteers and that Historic England had issued specific guidance on adapting heritage sites for safe COVID-19 working. There is a link to the latter on the IHSO website site.
A partial re-opening of the heritage sector is now underway in England with the ending of the second lockdown today (2 December 2020). However, industrial heritage sites, along with other cultural and museum venues, remain closed under the revised Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions.
Re-opening guidance for museums were issued in July 2020 by the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) Planning and Remobilisation Group, with support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and contributions from across the museum sector, including AIM. They are intended for use by museums in England. Separate re-opening guidelines are available for Scottish and Welsh cultural and heritage sites. This is guidance will also be relevant for all industrial heritage sites planning to open early in 2021.
The Association of Independent Museums and the Museum Development Network have produced a checklist to be used in conjunction with the Guidelines, to help museums take a strategic, well informed, approach to making decisions on re-opening and implementing a safe and effective plan in conjunction with the national guidance for museums.
The UK Government has announced (31 October 2020) a second lockdown for England to run for four weeks from 5 November to 2 December inclusive. Museums, galleries, and and all non-essential retail venues will be required to close during this period. At the end of the period, England will return to a regional approach of Tier restrictions, based upon the latest data.
A second lockdown in England will place extra strain on the Industrial Heritage sector. Only 50% of the c. 600 protected industrial heritage monuments and museums accessible to the public in England were able to open their doors after the first lock down ended in July. Even before the second lockdown was announced many sites were already closing for their normal winter maintenance period, whilst others had chosen not to re-open until spring 2021. However, that leaves a large number of industrial heritage sites and museums that would normally be open in the autumn and winter facing another closure. Furthermore, the continued restrictions on group meetings is also putting strain on the activities, fieldwork, and research of industrial archaeology and industrial heritage volunteer groups and societies.
There are some differences from the first lockdown so its important to keep up-to-date with the latest regulations. You can read the November UK Government guidance here:
For further updates on the impact of the Second Lockdown on the wider heritage sector see the Heritage Alliance website here:
The UK Government also announced the following financial support measures for the second lockdown:
workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary up to £2500 a month.
the flexibility of the current Coronovirus Job Retention Scheme will be retained to allow employees to continue to work where they can.
employers small or large, charitable or non-profit are eligible and because more businesses will need to close, they will now be asked to pay just National Insurance and Pensions contributions for their staff during the month of November.
the Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after the Job Retention Scheme ends.
On 23 Oct Arts Council England announced the awarding of a further £75 million in grants from the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. This investment will go to 35 of the country’s leading cultural organisations and venues. These grants are worth between £1 and £3 million, with just over £8m going to organisations looking after industrial heritage sites.
Four organisations who look after industrial heritage sites will receive grants in this latest round. These are:
the Birmingham Museums Trust (which runs the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and Sarehole Mill) (£1.87m);
the Black Country Living Museum Trust (a 26 acre site) (£2.55m);
the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (which encompasses 10 museum sites and 35 listed buildings and is at the heart of the World Heritage Site) (£1.86m);
and the London Transport Museum (with sites at Covenant Garden and Acton) (£1.75m).
A second round of grants over £1 million and the recipients of the £270 million loans package will be announced in the coming weeks. For further details follow this link:
445 heritage organisations will share £10m+ from two funds in the Culture Recovery Fund (Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and Heritage Stimulus Fund) to restart vital repair and maintenance work on cherished heritage sites, and to keep attractions open and support those working in the sector. The funds are administered by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, further details can be found here –https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/445-heritage-organisations-boosted-by-culture-recovery-fund/.
For the Canal & River Trust, 15 projects are being funded focussing on the replacement of lock gates, and lock and bridge repairs. This covers sites on the Coventry Canal, Grand Union Canal, Hertford Union Canal, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Shropshire Union Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal, and the Rivers Lee, Trent, and Weaver.
As part of the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to support cultural, arts, and heritage organisations, two major funding programmes for museums, heritage sites, and heritage organisations were launched on 29th July 2020.
1) Arts Council England – Cultural Recovery Fund A grant fund of £500million is available to support museums which were financially sustainable before Covid-19 but are now at imminent risk of failure. The aim is to ensure that, by March 2021, successful applicants are either fully or partially reopened, or operating on a sustainable, cost efficient basis, so that they are able to reopen at a later date. All Accredited museums and those working towards accreditation are eligible to apply. Museums can apply for a minimum of £50,000 to a maximum of £3million of funding to be spent in the period October 2020 to March 2021; no match funding is required. Round one opens 10th August 2020 and closes for applications 12pm 21st August 2020. Round two opens 21st August 2020 and closes for applications 12pm 4th September 2020. Arts Council England expect to allocate 75% of the funding in the first round. The grants will fund costs incurred during the period October 2020 to March 2021 that enable a museum to: remain open, reopen, or partially reopen; costs to allow reduction of activity to preserve the museum; and costs to ensure value for money of a museum’s financial sustainability. For further details see here:
2) Historic England in partnership with National Lottery Heritage Fund – Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage A grant fund of £88million is available to help heritage organisations or businesses cover operating costs, assess and adapt their business models, and become financially viable. This may include the costs of reopening, operating, hibernation, mothballing, or recovery costs. An additional £4 million is being used to top up other support schemes for the sector.
Applications open across England on 30th July 2020 and close on Monday 17th August 2020. There will be one round with applicants being notified by the end of September. Those eligible are: not for profit organisations managing heritage sites, venues or attractions; local authorities, universities, and other public sector bodies managing heritage sites, venues or attractions; private owners of heritage sites, venues or attractions which are normally open to the public 28 days a year or more; heritage businesses including conservators, contractors, specialists, and suppliers; and organisations that manage culturally significant assets or collections.
Organisations can apply for a minimum of £10,000 to a maximum of £3million. Grants must be spent by the end of March 2021 and the deadline for applications is 12pm on the 17th August. Further details here:
With a few notable exceptions, such as some water-powered and wind-powered flour mills, all the 600 plus protected industrial heritage sites in England traditionally open to the public were closed on the 23rd March this year. After more than three months sites as diverse as the Amberley Museum, Blue Bell Railway, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and the Lancashire Mining Museum are preparing to re-open over the summer.
If you are amongst the thousands of heritage sites in England preparing to reopen a heritage location to the public, including those with retail and wider visitor attractions, or you are preparing to go back to work at a historic site, Historic England has prepared this page which may be useful. Here you will find sections on:
guidance from the Government and other sector bodies;
pubs and restaurants within historic sites;
retail within historic buildings;
working safely as a heritage professional at heritage locations;
This advice should help owners and staff of historic sites, especially at the hundreds of volunteer-run industrial heritage sites in England, think through the considerations for reopening or returning to work. Please note that the considerations listed are not exhaustive and it should be also noted that they do NOT add additional requirements to the Government guidance or legislation.
South East Industrial Heritage Network member Amberley Museum (based in a former chalk quarry in Sussex) received some good news at the end of April with confirmation that it has received emergency funding from Arts Council England to meet its core costs for three months.
The museum was the venue of the inaugural South East Industrial Heritage Network meeting in July 2019. The site encompasses 36 acres and over 40 exhibits, including de Witt lime kilns (complete with railway and locomotives), as well as transport and craft galleries, and the ‘Connected Earth’ telecommunications exhibition gallery.
However, Amberley Museum still need help in securing the long-term future of the industrial museum and have a launched a fund raising campaign, like many other IHN members. Find out more below: