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A historic Tyneside tourist attraction is getting an audio upgrade with a grant from the Port of Tyne Community Action Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

The Victoria Tunnel, a preserved 19th-century waggon way under Newcastle stretching from the Town Moor to the River Tyne, is operated as a volunteer-led tourist attraction by the Ouseburn Trust’s team of 34 volunteer guides. The tunnel uses an audio system to bring to life its previous uses as a colliery waggon way and WW2 air-raid shelter, but the current 12 year-old system is no longer suitable for the Trust’s requirements.

A grant of £2,000 has been awarded to the Ouseburn Trust by the Port of Tyne Community Action Fund at the Community Foundation to support the purchase and installation of a new, resilient audio system to improve the quality of the sound and the experience for visitors and guides.

The Ouseburn Trust is a registered charity that exists to support the Ouseburn Valley in four key areas; property, heritage, public realm and community. Ordinarily, funds for improvements such as a new audio system would be covered by ticket sales but due to Covid-19 restrictions, closures and reduced tour capacity, income is down by around 75%.

Chris Barnard, Chief Officer at Ouseburn Trust commented: “I’d like to say how delighted we are to be awarded a grant to help us upgrade the audio and ensure that the visit experience remains a high quality one enhancing an already immersive experience with sounds that bring the experience to life for the public and school groups alike.”

Louise Tinkler, Director of Human Resources at Port of Tyne commented: “The Victoria Tunnel, and the wider Ouseburn Trust, are real assets to the Tyneside community and heritage and we are proud to have been able to support them via the Community Action Fund. Many community organisations have been negatively affected by the pandemic and related lockdowns and we are delighted that some funds have been awarded to help organisations bounce back.”

The Community Action Fund was established at the Community Foundation in 2007 with three key aims: to help communities thrive; improve health and wellbeing; and supporting children and young people to thrive. Since then, almost £500,000 has been awarded to over 165 community projects along the River Tyne corridor.

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