Wardown Park Museum awarded £1.8m HLF grant

Funding also announced to save Edinburgh boot factory
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Rebecca Atkinson
Luton’s Wardown Park Museum has been awarded £1.8m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to open up unused spaces and recreate a wealthy Victorian family home.

The building was built as a private residence for local solicitor Frank Scargill in 1872, and used as a military hospital during the first world war before being turned into a museum in 1931.

The project to restore and conserve the museum, which is being led by Luton Culture and Luton Borough Council, includes the restoration of Victorian billiard and smoking rooms in the ground floor of the building.

The development, which is £200,000 off its £3.5m target following the HLF grant, will also see the creation of a new cafe and an art gallery that can be used for weddings and other venue hire. Extensive work will be carried out to make the building fully accessible. 

Collections from Luton’s archive will be used in new displays to chart the development of Luton’s hat industry and straw work, and tell the story of the town today.

The project also aims to inspire local communities to take an active interest in their heritage through a new learning programme and an extension of Luton Culture’s Museum Makers volunteer programme.

The redevelopment is expected to start next April with the museum reopening in the autumn.

Earlier this month the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham was awarded a £1m HLF grant for a redevelopment project to reconfigure the Grade II listed building. The project, which is expected to finish by February 2017, will see the museum’s galleries redesigned with new interpretation, extended volunteering and activities programmes and the creation of learning resources.

The HLF also announced funding for three heritage projects through its Heritage Enterprise programme, including nearly £5m to save a boot factory.

The funding means the former headquarters of the North British Rubber Company in Edinburgh, the birthplace of the Wellington boot, the modern motor car tyre and the first ever traffic cone, has been saved from demolition and will now be turned into a visual arts centre and creative hub. Creative Scotland has confirmed that it will invest £1.7m in the project.

The restoration of five former explosives factory buildings at the Royal Gunpowder Mills site in Waltham Abbey has also been given a boost by the HLF, with a £83,000 grant awarded to help develop plans to create a new outdoor activity centre. A further £4.9m of funding has been earmarked for the project pending a further application.

And the HLF has agreed to provide £180,000 in development funding for a project to turn a derelict 1930’s lido in Ipswich into a new commercial leisure destination, with a view to grant a further £3.3m to fund the restoration of the site at a later date.

Finally, the HLF has awarded £290,000 to progress plans to create the National Marine Centre in North Berwick, East Lothian, and given initial support for a £3.5m bid for the project.

The project aims to expand the conservation and education work of the Scottish Seabird Centre, and create a new education and interactive exhibition space.

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