Newsletter: Christmas 2022

Wishing You a Happy New Tear

May we start by wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

If you are thinking of visiting please remember that we will be closed from Saturday 24th December to the 1st January, reopening on the 2nd.

We were optimistic that relaxation of the Covid restrictions would bring about a return to something more normal. However the events in Ukraine and their repercussions on energy prices and inflation have left us with new challenges.

As you read on you will see that we have taken the decision to introduce a small entrance charge to access the site beyond the Granite’s patio. Entry to Granite’s Coffee Shop and the Heritage Centre main building will remain free. You will also see that our volunteers are still beavering away, improving the site and adding further attractions for you to enjoy.

Upcoming Site Entrance Fee

Our aim has always been for the site to be free for our visitors to enter and enjoy. Over the past seven years we have worked very hard to achieve this, depending entirely on donations from visitors and the income generated through our “Not For Profit” Granite’s Coffee Shop to pay the operational costs of the site. We receive no grants nor income from local councils or other organisations to help with our running costs.

Over the last 12 months we have seen huge cost rises such as the servicing, repair and replacement of equipment, and meeting our legal requirements such as fire, safety, security and insurance. As an example our electricity costs have increased from £12,500 to a staggering £42,000 per year.

There have also been large increases in the cost of ingredients and the products we buy in to sell in Granite’s. For Granite’s to stay affordable for our customers we have avoided passing most of these rises on and have had to absorb the majority of the increases ourselves. This greatly reduces Granite’s ability to support the site.

The cost of living crisis means that visitors have reduced the donations they make and have cut back on what they spend in Granite’s. For example, in August, 78% of visitors didn’t buy anything from us nor did they leave a donation.

So it’s a perfect storm of rising costs and reduced income. Everything is working against us and means that we can no longer afford to cover the costs of operating the site.

This was becoming clear at the beginning of the summer and we have spent the past six months trying to find alternatives. Reluctantly we have been left with no other choice but to introduce a small entrance fee for visitors to access the site beyond the Granite’s patio. Visits to Granite’s, the heritage rooms in the main building, the patio and the play area will remain free. We’ve set the entrance fee at the very low rate of just £2 for adults and £1 for children aged 2-15. Under 2’s remain free.

Introducing an entrance fee has been a difficult decision for us to take as we are very much aware of how the cost of living crisis is affecting everyone, but we simply have no choice if the Heritage Centre is to survive into the future.

The entrance fee will come into effect from February 2023. The exact date will be determined and announced early in the new year.

Looking forward to 2023

Throughout the past year we have been working on many new areas of interest and these will be opening throughout 2023! Our latest map may help you to find them as you wander around the site.

Site Map Jan 2023

Site map Jan 2023

From early 2023 our newly arrived traction engine (26) will be operational. We hope that it will be joined by a second working traction engine around Easter!
Traction engine
Our LMS Wagon Museum (17), with its working vintage Hornby Dublo train set, will open mid to late January. It contains over 100 exhibits all crammed into the Box Van and all have a local connection. There are so many that, rather than use display boards, we have added a twenty button “Juke box” with audio descriptions of each group of items.
LMS van museum

Now that the Mountsorrel Railway branch line has been repaired, the Great Central Railway will again be running passenger trains to the Heritage Centre and Mountsorrel Station, possibly as soon as March (see for details nearer the time).

Work is well underway on creating the King’s Coronation Garden (24) in the base of the quarry. The garden will be complete in time for the Coronation in early May.
Kings Coronation garden
The platform for the Narrow Gauge Railway (19) is now complete, as are all the track modifications. The wagons are expected April/May next year and we hope to start passenger train rides towards the end of May (small additional charge payable).
Narrow Gauge platform
Throughout 2023 you will also be able to see our volunteers bringing Robert Stephenson’s historic 1834 lift bridge (25) back to life. Timbers for the bridge were originally being sourced from Russia, however events meant that we had to find an alternative supplier. As you can see much of the base framework is complete. The original metal work is being repaired and new items made for the ones that are missing or can’t be repaired.
Lift Bridge

So the Heritage Centre site continues to grow and will become even better for next year! Thanks to your support, and the dedication of our hard working and committed volunteers over the past 7 years, the Heritage Centre has become a much loved and valued resource for the people of Leicestershire and beyond to enjoy and learn from. We very much hope that you’ll continue to visit and support the Heritage Centre to allow it to flourish into the future!

We wish you all a very happy Christmas and 2023!

Just a thought… If you are looking for an enjoyable way of working off the effects of the Turkey and all those mince pies, have you considered volunteering. We are always on the lookout for extra helpers. Maybe you could help maintain the nature trails, develop the gardens, operate the garden railway, reconstruct historic feats of engineering, or even drive a train. Our volunteer sessions are most Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, although we do have a break over Christmas and New Year. Why not pop along to see what we do when we re-open in the New Year.