A training and education centre has gone into administration with the loss of 14 jobs.

The trustees of Appleby Training and Heritage Centre made the decision to close in March following a number of years during which it struggled to make ends meet.

The centre, which was run out of converted railway buildings and carriages next to the town's railway station, was founded in 1996 and delivered a variety of courses to adults and young people.

However, former manager Mandy Morland said a combination of circumstances meant it simply had not had enough funding to carry on operating.

Although the centre had been accredited to deliver apprenticeships for employees working at businesses that paid the Government's apprenticeship levy, there had not been enough of these in the area, she said.

A contract had been put in place for the centre to deliver apprenticeship training for other businesses, but this was not going to begin until September.

The centre also supplied courses under contract to Cumbria County Council, but she added that the retendering process meant that when contracts were renewed in September, it was not guaranteed what the centre would be awarded.

At the same time, the income from private courses was not predictable enough to provide a reliable income.

"Without guaranteed contracts for September we weren't in a position to get the funding to keep us running," said Mandy.

"The overheads are quite high because of the heating that is needed.

"The general day to do running costs were quite a pull on the finances.

"It has struggled a lot over the years because of the way it has been funded.

"It was a challenge year on year. It did well to survive as long as it did."

Staff were informed of the difficulties the centre was facing in December, she said.

Along with other educational centres it is currently closed due to the coronavirus shutdown.

However, she said in the future, the centre would consider how staff could see students through to the completion of their courses on a voluntary basis.

"It is purely out of the goodness of the ex-employees' hearts if they want to do it," she said.

"It is very sad news for the area."

Although the decision to close was taken before the full effects of the coronavirus outbreak, Mandy said had the centre tried to keep going the shutdown would certainly have forced it out of business.

"Myself and the trustees worked very hard," Mandy said.

"I threw my heart and soul into the place and I wanted it to survive, but when you are fighting with funding it's just an impossible task."

County councillor Deborah Earl, cabinet member for public health and communities, said:

“The council is saddened by the closure of Appleby Heritage Centre, but does not recognise the explanation given by the manager for the closure.

"The council has worked with the centre for over 15 years and this year carried out a review of Community Learning provision in Eden.

"At no point was any indication given that the contract for Appleby Heritage Centre would be halved.

"In fact the council was keen to work with Appleby Heritage Centre to explore new ways of delivering learning, utilising technology to broaden the reach and availability of community learning within the rural community. 

"Had this happened then it is likely that the contract value would have increased.

“We are now seeking a new contractor for the Eden area and are hopeful that we will be able to continue to offer community learning and skills provision in the east of Eden from September 2020.”