THE Great Dorset Steam fair has received a £236,000 funding lifeline from the government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Martin Oliver, steam fair managing director, says the money will enable them to "weather the storm"over the next six months, after the pandemic caused the event's cancellation for the first time in its 51 year history.

Some 455 organisations will receive a share of £103 million from the first tranche of the government fund, established to help with costs for operating, reopening and recovery because of the pandemic.

Mr Oliver said: "Like many other event organisers, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we face uncertainty as to when we can run the next Great Dorset Steam Fair event and what statutory restrictions will be in place.

"I was shocked at how the coronavirus crisis took hold and how it has suffocated event livelihoods.

"In our case, showmen grounded, world class exhibits being put up for sale, traders and caterers permanently closing, contractors and entertainers of all types clawing through months and months of cancellations, enforced career changes.

"As the end of October loomed my heart sunk at the prospect of losing my core staff when the furlough scheme ends.

"I am pleased to announce that our application has been successful, the grant is a vital contribution in preserving our amazing event."

The fund is administered by Historic England, and designed to secure the future of Britain's museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency

grants and loans.

Mr Oliver said: "If we were no longer able to operate viably, then the annual Great Dorset Steam Fair event would cease to exist, ending 51 years of an extraordinary worldwide heritage attraction.

"The effect of closure would be felt far and wide throughout the steam heritage, vintage vehicle and country craft fraternities, not only here in the UK but across the world.

"The Great Dorset Steam Fair is unquestionably the keystone event which showcases Great Britain’s rich industrial, rural and leisure history and as the 21st century progresses, this cannot be emphasised enough.

"Being widely recognised as the world’s leading steam heritage and vintage vehicle event, it’s loss in the heritage events calendar would seriously endanger the future scale of the nation’s steam heritage and historic motor vehicle preservation movement and the skills and crafts which accompanies it."