Visitors have social history at their fingertips in the Bridewell Museum. © Norwich City Council
The Bridewell, Norwich’s much-loved museum of social history, is to be transformed thanks to an award of £998,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
As well as a comprehensive re-display the funding will be used to provide better access for disabled visitors and to create a welcoming new entrance and shop area.
The Bridewell has traditionally focused on the history of trade and industry in Norwich, including textiles and shoes, which made the city wealthy in the past. These themes will be enhanced in the new displays, which will also focus more on the city’s people and their everyday lives.
“The Bridewell is much loved by the people of Norwich,” said Vanessa Trevelyan, Head of Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service, which runs the museum. “This marvellous investment by HLF means we can present the story of Norwich trades and industries and the people who worked in them, in a more engaging way and bring that story up to date."
A museum since 1923, the grade 2 listed building was previously used as a merchant’s house, a prison then tobacco and shoe factories.
Beyond this door lies the recently refurbished Bridewell Museum, which tells the social history of Norwich. © Katie Brinkley / HEART / Culture24
The new funding will allow many more items from the collection that are currently in storage. Displays will feature collections from across the Norwich Museums, including paintings of the city, dress and textiles from Carrow House Costume and Textile Study Centre plus everyday furniture and household possessions from the collections at Strangers’ Hall.
The total cost of the project is £1.5 million. Norfolk County Council has already committed £225,000 capital funding and the Friends of the Norwich Museums have committed a vital £25,000 showing local support for the plans.
"Norwich is a city with a fascinating past and a very bright future,” said Daniel Cox, Leader of Norfolk County Council. “Now the Bridewell will very much be part of that future and I am absolutely delighted a great deal of work by museums staff behind the scenes has paid off so spectacularly.”
“I can't wait for the work to be completed and I am sure the new-look museum will be a big hit with the public - be they local people or visitors to our fine city."
A famous fire engine from a famous Norwich road. © Katie Brinkley / HEART / Culture24
Both Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council are contributing match funding from their building maintenance budgets, to enable the refurbishment of the building as part of the project.
The Bridewell will close to the public on Saturday 2 November. The museum is expected to re-open by summer 2011.