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Haig wins in £1.4m Lottery bid Add your comments

A £2.3MILLION development plan hailed as the saviour of the beleagured Haig Mining Museum has finally won financial backing. Now work is to start in earnest on making it a reality.

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Artist’s impression: The new Haig museum

Haig’s board of trustees, its staff, volunteers and supporters, were celebrating this week with the news that a Heritage Lottery bid for £1.4million had got the green light.

A second bid, for a £470,000 grant from Copeland Community Fund has also been successful.

There is still some match funding to find but plans involving a major restoration and re-development of the massive pit buildings at Kells – and the creation of an adjacent modern visitor centre with cafe and play area – can now go ahead.

Museum manager Pamela Telford is delighted. “This is such wonderful news and provides an amazing opportunity for us to develop the site for the future of the museum. There have been some dark times and some knock-backs but now we are getting back on track, and it feels great.

“There has been a huge amount of hard work put in just to get this far and it’s brilliant to have now got agreement from the two major funders for our plans. However I have to emphasise that we have a lot more work to do to bring in the rest of the funding for the building works and we are always looking for funding just to keep us going currently. But I do hope that the local community will be as pleased as we are with this latest success.

“Now the exciting times begin. With these two large funders behind us, we have confidence that we can achieve our vision for a thriving, accessible, sustainable community-orientated heritage facility. There is a great deal to do but it will be fantastic when it is finished; we will have a museum in Whitehaven that properly reflects the local mining community and its amazing history, a museum that people can feel justly proud of.’’

In the meantime the board still has some match-funding to find and applications have been submitted to a variety of bodies.

Pamela, whose own maternal grandfather, the late George Clements of Frizington, worked at Haig for 48 years, hopes the public will get fully behind the development, and help to fund-raise towards it. “The support of the local community is crucial, and donations to the museum can be made at NatWest Bank in Whitehaven or directly to the museum itself,” she said.

If all goes well the project will start in September, take around 12 months to complete and will include an ‘underground’ mine experience, exhibitions of social history and a nostalgia gallery where people can add their own memories. A new single-storey visitor centre will be built on land previously occupied by the loco sheds.

The museum building, which is Grade II listed and a scheduled ancient monument, sits on the site of what was the last working pit in the county.

Heritage Lottery has set down four conditions to the grant approval that must be complied with. These are:

acquiring some match-funding;

co-opting more people onto the Board of Trustees;

establishing an accountable body and

compiling a detailed work programme. These must all be in place before work can begin.

There will also be five commercial units installed on an open area to the south west of the main building which will have temporary permission lasting until September 2021. These will be built first and used for storage initially. Plans are on display at Haig, which currently is open only at weekends, so packing up work can be done.

Haig Museum is a partnership project with involvement by the Colourful Coast (National Trust and RSPB project) Copeland Council, Britain’s Energy Coast and Natural England.

Plans for this year’s Pit Pride Parade, involving ex-miners and local schoolchildren, are already under way. It is scheduled for May 5 and will march from Haig down to the harbour.

Reaction to the funding news has been swift:

BOB METCALFE, chairman of Haig Museum’s Board of Directors: “The news regarding funding for the Powerhouse and Visitor Centre development is extremely positive. There is however much to be done to sign-off final funding packages and we will seek to complete that work by mid-summer.’’

SARA HILTON, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, says the grant has been agreed in principle however the project still faces many difficult challenges before funding will be released. Partners will be working hard over the next six months to address the outstanding issues. “While there is still a lot of work to be done, this remains a fantastic opportunity to create a new visitor centre that tells the full story of the local mining community. We are glad that everyone is working together to help make these exciting plans a reality.”

COUN PHIL GREATOREX, Copeland Council portfolio holder for regeneration: “Haig is a huge part of this area’s industrial heritage and we are keen to support the development of the improved visitor attraction. We recognise that there is still some way to go, but hope that this announcement is the major step in the right direction that will help secure additional funding and community support.’’

COUN ELAINE WOODBURN, chair of Copeland Community Fund board: “The Fund has long been a supporter of the work at Haig and is pleased to be able to back this project with both capital and revenue funding. We hope it will help Haig secure further investment from other partners, to make the new facility a reality.

“Part of the funding we gave was a grant to enable the museum to get to the point of submitting high quality funding bids.’’

JAMIE REED, MP for Copeland: “The news that Haig has been awarded these sums for development of the museum is fantastic and provides a great opportunity for the museum, for Copeland and Cumbria. When finished it will be a tremendous educational and tourist facility for the area. There is, however, still much work to be done in securing the remaining funding. And the support of the local community is vital in bringing this project to fruition.’’

Have your say

Great news. The mining museum is operated by the enthusiastic people who should be operating it an I wish them all the success they deserve.

Posted by DaveW on 23 February 2012 at 11:35

Congratulations Haig!
The volunteers and staff must be delighted!
I think Pamela Telford should give herself a huge pat on the back for all of the dedication she shows Haig! Without her this simply wouldn't have happened!
Three cheers!
Claire

Posted by Claire Benson on 22 February 2012 at 22:13

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