AN ICONIC Winchester music venue could be forced to close if it can’t secure funding for vital renovations.

The Railway Inn has turned to crowdfunding in the hope of securing £31,900 to modernise the venue on St Paul’s Hill, Fulflood, and guarantee its long term future.

In the immediate future the venue needs to raise £10,000 to improve the accessibility in line with “Attitude Is Everything” ratings or it may be forced to close.

So far £6,826 has been pledged by some 160 supporters. But there are only 33 days days until the campaign is due to end.

A statement from The Railway Inn said: “Followers of charities such as the Music Venue Trust will know that grassroots venues across the country are threatened by a myriad of problems.

“Since January 2018 alone, at least five established and well-loved venues have closed due to financial difficulty, planning threats and a lack of national funding.

“The Railway Inn is at a very real risk of being forced to close. We urgently need support from the community to not only grow, but to survive.”

The owners’ ultimate aim, however, is to modernise the venue by renovating the performance areas, creating a community workshop and ‘makerspace’, and workshop and secure funding to expand and improve the Railway’s internship programmes.

On hearing the news Meonstoke-raised singer songwriter Frank Turner who started his career playing shows at the venue took to social media to support the campaign.

He said: “I grew up in Winchester and the Railway was the only venue in town, and it still is.

“If you want to see any kind of live music or build any kind of career as a band or built a kind of community of people who enjoy music and in Winchester the Railway is the only gig in town.

“I have played there a million times in numerous different bands and as a solo artist and they have always treated me well. It’s always been a great vibe and I have been to some great shows there.

“It would be a great tragedy if the city was to lose the Railway and I think that the least that anyone who loves music can do is help support it and make sure it keeps going and long may she reign. Long live the Railway!”

Concert promoter, band manager, and music journalist Oliver Gray, from Twyford, said: “I have been putting on shows at the Railway since 1981 and it is Winchester’s shining beacon of artistic creativity. It is known worldwide for its unique atmosphere yet survives without any kind of subsidy.”

The pub, which dates from 1856, offers an eclectic mix of music. Last night it featured punk legend Kirk Brandon, lead singer of theatre of Hate and Spear of Destiny.

Over the years it has developed a reputation for putting on many ‘Americana’ bands, of rootsy folk music.

It stages the longest-running roots music open mic in the city. In October it will host gigs in the Winchester Comedy Festival.