HERITAGE railway skills are being kept alive and well in Snowdonia thanks to a £454,500 grant.

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways have secured the Heritage Lottery Fund cash to support an ambitious training programme.

Part of the HLF ‘Skills for the Future’ scheme, the project aims to introduce heritage-related expertise to a wider, more diverse audience.

The programme seeks to recruit 20 trainees, over a two-year period, to learn about the specialist heritage skills of the railways' workforce. It is hoped the experience will encourage trainees into careers within the heritage sector.

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways' director and general manager Paul Lewin said:

"For our national heritage to have a bright future we need to ensure that there are people with the skills necessary to conserve, work with, and interpret our heritage assets.

"It is of vital importance that people from all backgrounds are attracted to be involved in our heritage at all levels. As traditional heritage skills diverge from the requirements of mainstream industry it is ever more important that we concentrate on developing those skills. This programme, made possible by HLF, allows us to focus on these challenges in a way that we simply could not otherwise hope to do."

The first step of the programme has been to appoint Karen Spring as project manager. The former head teacher will prepare the first round of trainees who will join the programme in September. The scheme will work in collaboration with local partners and colleges.

Skills covered by the scheme include horticulture, heritage joinery, heritage mechanical engineering, dry stone walling, permanent way engineering and heritage interpretation.

Any interested should contact by email hlfs4f@ffwhr.com