Sites Across Britain Celebrate £15.6 million HLF Windfall

By Ben Miller | 19 December 2008
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A black and white picture of a packed music hall

Leeds City Varieties Music Hall in Yorkshire (above) has won £2.7 million. Pic courtesy Leeds City Council

Heritage sites across Britain are celebrating this morning (December 19, 2008) after the Heritage Lottery Fund announced its latest round of awards.

Funding totalling £15.6 million has been granted to eight important attractions, including Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, Antrim Castle Gardens, Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and Stowe House in Buckinghamshire.

A design drawing of a museum on two levels with a dome structure overhead

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is planning a dome-shaped structure (above). Pic courtesy BMAG

The biggest winner was the Beaney Institute, a Canterbury museum, art gallery and library, which won almost £6 million.

“This is great news for Canterbury,” said Ken Reedie, Curator of Museums and Galleries for Canterbury City Council. “This award will allow the building to be conserved, refurbished and brought back to its former fine state. This will provide new spaces and transform what we can do for and with local communities, who are out target audience.”

A picture of a museum with grass outside and a glass conservatory attached to the dark brick building

Preston Hall in Stockton-on-Tees won £3.58 million. Pic courtesy Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Museum Service

Founded as a Philosophical and Literary Institution in 1825, the Beaney moved to its present Victorian building a century ago, but has now outgrown the space.

“Something had to happen”, says Reedie, who is planning new galleries and changing exhibitions to make the Beaney a major regional and international resource. “An enormous volume of work went into the application,” he added. “We now set about implementing our plan to pack up and move the building’s collections.”

A faded old picture of a museum with a large building and grassy grounds

Preston Hall, pictured in 1900. Pic courtesy Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council Museum Service

The collection will move to temporary space during development work early next year, scheduled for completion in summer 2011 with a design by architects James Miller & Partners, who have worked for Tate Britain, National Galleries of Scotland and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge.

The Preston Hall Museum in Stockton-on-Tees, a Grade II-listed building telling the story of domestic life in the County Durham market town over the last two centuries, has also received a major boost after being granted £3.5 million.

A picture of the rocks and sea at Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland has secured a first-round pass towards a potential £3 million application. Pic courtesy National Trust

The funds from HLF comprise more than half of the £6.6 million needed to carry out a major restoration of the existing building, improve access and quality within the museum for the visiting public, and build new facilities at the site to improve standards of care for the collections within.

“We are really excited about the prospect of bringing Preston Hall Museum firmly into the 21st century, using best practice and the latest techniques to create new, exciting displays,” responded Museums Service Manager Jane Hubbard.

A picture of The Canterbury Beaney, a townhouse style building with brown brick and gothic architecture on a market street

The Canterbury Beaney in Kent was the biggest winner

“This will engage and inform our visitors, and help them to discover the rich history and heritage of Stockton – everything from the stone age to shipbuilding, the Stockton to Darlington Railway, the chemical industry and our many local heroes.”

“We are delighted that HLF has confirmed its support for Preston Hall and that the dream to provide significant changes and improvements for the museum will now become a reality,” added Dr Keith Bartlett, Head of the HLF in the North East.

A picture of a grass-covered building

Antrim Castle Gardens secured the largest-ever HLF grant in Northern Ireland. Pic courtesy Antrim Castle Gardens

“Not only is it a much-loved museum in Stockton, but it is a significant heritage landmark in the North East, and the home for collections of national importance. This well-deserved support will ensure that the building and its collections can be enjoyed by everyone as they learn about their past for many years to come.”

Set in 110 acres of rolling parkland overlooking the River Tees, Preston Hall was originally built in 1825. The Borough of Stockton-on-Tees opened its first museum at the site in 1953, and it is now the main tourist attraction in the area with more than 93,000 visitors a year. Councillor Mary Womhprey, Stockton-on-Tees Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, said the council was “delighted”.

A picture of an old mansion with snow outside, trees overhanging and a blue sky

Clotworthy House is part of Antrim Castle Gardens

The Grade II-listed Varieties Music Hall in Leeds was another major winner, earning £2.7 million towards restoring the building and providing an archive of some of the icons who have performed there, including the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini.

The 17th-century Antrim Castle Gardens secured one of the largest ever HLF grants in Northern Ireland, winning more than half of the money needed for a massive £6 million restoration project at the historic buildings and gardens.

In an application stage which was more than three times over-subscribed, four sites gained first-round passes, a crucial signal of funding support for heritage development.

“This kind of funding is extremely important, and enables us to take major projects forward and establish a commitment to realising their future benefits,” said Jo Smith, Head of Projects and Development at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, who won £107,000 towards a potential application for £4.7 million.

“During the project development we have undertaken a significant amount of consultation with users, and developing galleries about the history of Birmingham emerged as a key priority. The project involves the creation of a stunning new wing of Birmingham History Galleries that will explore the history and development of Birmingham and its people.”

Their plans also include sprucing up more than 1,000 square metres of galleries and reinstating original listed features as part of a 20-year vision. “We acknowledge the Stage two round will be competitive but are confident we have an extremely strong project to put forward which has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money,” said Smith.

Cardigan Castle in Wales received almost £300,000 towards a projected £4.5 million application after fundraisers spent nearly two years compiling their bid. Elin Jones, Assembly Member for Ceredigon, described restoration plans for the 12th-century castle as “a very ambitious project which will be of great benefit for Cardigan and the whole of West Wales once it is completed.”

The palatial, Grade I-listed Stowe House, situated a few miles north of Buckingham, was also awarded £12,500, which will be used to increase opportunities for the public to visit the house as part of a £3.1 million plan.

Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the HLF, said: “These types of projects are the backbone of the UK’s heritage, with a focus very much on local people and the unique stories of their communities.”

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: