A FUNDRAISING initiative to keep Hythe ferry afloat during the coronavirus crisis has received more than £5,000 in donations – which is set to be doubled by match-funding.
Blue Funnel, which took over the route between Hythe and Southampton in 2016, was forced to stop sailings last month after a drastic drop in passenger numbers.
Director Lee Rayment later set up an online crowdfunding page as part of an initiative by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, which has set aside £100,000 for match-funding for small businesses in the local area.
Announcing the appeal had hit the £5,000 target, Lee wrote on Facebook: “I am so humbly amazed at how not just the local community, but ferry supporters far and wide have pledged to support the pier, train and the ferry in these very different times.”
The target has now been increased to £10,000 to help pay for the attraction’s restoration project, organised by Hythe Pier Heritage Association. As previously reported in the A&T, over the last 30 years the railway has suffered from a lack of maintenance and with its constant exposure to the weather, combined with wear and tear, its condition has deteriorated so much that repairs are urgently needed.
The project, which is expected to cost around £222,000, will include relaying the tramway to replace worn rails as well as restoring the carriages and the two tractor units.
Lee added: “Please don’t stop donating, as every penny donated is going to make this whole service and attraction stay with us all for a long time to come. Thank you not only from myself, but all the staff and, of course, thank each other for the combined effort of pledges received.”
To donate visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hythe-ferry-and-pier-covid19