The National Railway Museum's Great Hall was to be radically upgraded but the project lost its bid for funding

National Railway Museum scraps plans for £21m facelift

Geraldine Kendall, 27.04.2011
Ambitious NRM+ project axed after museum grant bid turned down
The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York has been forced to scrap plans for a £21m upgrade to its Great Hall after the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) turned down the museum's bid for £7m funding.

The NRM had turned to the RGF as a “long-shot” after it lost its bid for a grant worth £5m from Yorkshire Forward regional development agency, which was abolished last year, and was turned down after approaching the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for funding. 

The museum had secured a tentative agreement from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to provide match funding of £10m if the RGF bid succeeded, but the museum learned earlier this month that its grant-aid application had failed.

In a statement, NRM director Steve Davies said: “There is absolutely no chance in the current climate of us closing the significant funding gap we now face.”

“NRM+ as a cohesive project is no longer viable and will therefore be cancelled.”

Work on NRM+ was due to start in 2012, with construction lasting about a year. The project involved radically transforming the museum’s largest exhibition space with multimedia and multisensory displays, greater access to the collection and improved visitor facilities.

The project’s centrepiece was to be a bridge link over the Great Hall offering visitors a panoramic view of the locomotive exhibits.

A source close to the museum described NRM+ as “a well-researched, well-organised, well-planned project”.

“It wasn’t some fly-by-night, daft kind of scheme,” said the source. “It’s really very sad.”

NRM had predicted the facelift would boost visitor numbers by 33% and bring an additional £25m a year to the regional economy.

A spokeswoman for the museum said the £1.8m already raised for the project from other funding sources would now go to redeveloping the museum’s entrance and shop, refurbishing Station Hall and making minor adjustments to the Great Hall.

03.05.2011
Update

We said that the NRM lost a £5m grant from the DCMS, but although the museum approached the DCMS, the money was never available and the museum was turned down.

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