THE Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, has welcomed the establishment of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) committee specifically dedicated to making grants to causes in the north of England.
In its first £10-million tranche of funding, the eight benefactors range from a Museum of Fun and Entertainment in Blackpool, which receives £4 million, to a £320,500 church-window-restoration project in Co. Durham.
While welcoming the boost that the museum would give the community in Blackpool, Bishop Henderson hoped that more funding from the committee would be forthcoming for built heritage, such as parish churches. He said: “It is encouraging to see investment such as this — with vital jobs attached, alongside the promise of increased tourism — that will tell the story of Blackpool’s unique place in the British cultural landscape.
“For the project to be partnered with the V and A Museum and Blackpool Council sends an important signal as conversations continue about the future shape of the much-hyped ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and its relationship with the rest of the UK. Blackpool, like many seaside places across the country, has seen difficult times in recent years, and the people of the town will welcome this boost to their future prosperity.
“More widely, I am pleased to hear that there is now a ‘North Committee’ of the Heritage Lottery Fund, looking out for the specific requirements of this part of the country. I hope future grants might include investment towards our built heritage, such as our parish churches; buildings which stand at the heart of our communities and from where people reach out with love and the message that Jesus Christ can make a real difference to the lives of our fellow Lancastrians.”
The North Committee has decision-making powers for grants of up to £5 million in Yorkshire and the Humber, the north-west, and the north-east. A spokesman for the HLF said that it would “enable the fund to better play its part in boosting heritage-led regeneration across the north, where it is needed the most”.
The Blackpool museum, Show Town, is due to open in 2021, and is predicted to attract 296,000 visitors annually, create 39 full-time equivalent jobs, and add more than £13 million to the regional economy. Its brief is to celebrate the part played by the resort in British popular entertainment, and tell the story of the UK’s first mass seaside resort, through Britain’s first permanent displays of circus, music, variety, and ballroom-dancing material — including Stan Laurel’s hat and suits belonging to Morecambe and Wise.
In Co. Durham, the benefice of Barnard Castle with Whorlton is celebrating the £320,500 grant for its Windows to the World repairs-and heritage-interpretation project at St Mary’s, Barnard Castle. It covers urgent repairs and conservation to the Grade I listed, 12th-century building, which has links with Richard lll; and a community-wide scheme that explains its heritage and place in local history.
The Vicar of St Mary’s, Canon Alec Harding, said: “The award of this grant opens up new ways for the church to engage with the community. When these works are completed next year, the church will be weathertight for future generations, and we hope that we will have created a community of all ages who will have a long-term interest in this historic building.”