Dancing at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool (late 1950s). Photograph from the Tower Company collection.

Blackpool Museum project receives HLF support

Rebecca Atkinson, 27.05.2014
Six sites awarded £72m
A new museum in the seaside resort of Blackpool is one of six projects confirmed as having achieved a first-round pass for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support.

Lottery funding of £72m has been earmarked for the organisations’ respective bids.

These include £13.6m to develop plans for the Blackpool Museum at the Pavilion Theatre in the Winter Gardens. It’s hoped that the new museum, which will tell the history of the town, will be a flagship visitor attraction and a catalyst for increased investment.  

Simon Blackburn, the leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We want to do something completely unique that you would only experience here. It will not be a conventional museum – it will be a dynamic and celebratory space, a blend of museum, visitor attraction and theatre, filled with artefacts, film, music and performance.”

The council intends to apply for a further £20m to implement the project following the development stage.

HLF has also earmarked for £12.8m to develop a new history centre in Plymouth, which will house the city’s collection of archives, film and artefacts.

Elsewhere Beamish, the Living Museum of the North in County Durham has received initial support for a £10.7m bid to create a range of immersive exhibits, including a 1950s town, a Georgian coaching inn offering overnight stays and a therapeutic day centre for people living with dementia.

The museum says the project will transform the site and create new jobs and skills training opportunities, including 50 four-year apprenticeships.

Nottingham Castle has also received support for its £12.9m HLF bid, to improve its displays and open up a set of caves beneath the site.

The other two projects to receive a first-pass HLF bid are Canterbury Cathedral (£11.9m) to conserve the site and create a new visitor centre, and Bath Abbey (£10.4m) to undertake urgent conservation work and create new underground facilities.  

Carole Souter, the chief executive of the HLF, said: “These projects will enhance and re-energise some of England’s best-loved places. They will build on the stories of the past and offer new opportunities for the future.”
“Every year the Heritage Lottery Fund looks at a number of applications for major projects requesting £5m or more of our money. Demand for 2014 was higher than ever. We’ll be working closely with all six of our successful applicants as they develop their plans.”


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Sarah Kirkham
MA Member
Cataloguing Assistant, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
02.06.2014, 14:18
Blackpool is more about it's night life than anything else. It's gained itself the image of Stag and Hen party central, attracting characters that usually end up slumped on a street corner covered in other peoples bodily fluid! This is what Blackpool is about now!
If this Museum can help restore Blackpool's lost culture of leisure, tourism and seaside entertainment (which hasn't really been present since the 1950s/60s) then I'm all for it! This is one of the reasons why I left the town in search of greener pastures and the promise of a career in Museums.
As it stands Oliver I really wouldn't encourage ANYONE to visit Blackpool. However, IF (and this is a huge if) this Museum ever sees the light of day AND it succeeds in bringing the town's local history and culture back to life....then I might have a change of heart.
Oliver Green
MA Member
01.06.2014, 10:20
Agree with you about the Midland Hotel, tho' it's the only good thing left in Morecambe, which has managed to lose both its piers. Haven't seen the refurbished Atkinson yet but even posh Southport needed some assistance from the HLF to regenerate. Now it's Blackpool's turn and I'm sorry to see you dont think it deserves help with its heritage.OK, it will never be a high culture destination but that's not what Blackpool's about.
Jonathan Gammond
MA Member
Access & Interpretation Officer, Wrexham County Borough Museum
28.05.2014, 21:57
Writing as a middle class southerner gone north, it is great news that Blackpool is going to have a museum (revamp), cos having visited the town once, until this news there was absolutely no reason to bother returning. I'd prefer Benghazi, Beirut or Bari to the Lancashire town. Morecambe with the fantastic Midland Hotel and Southport with the wonderful Atkinson Museum & Gallery and the King's Gardens are miles ahead of Blackpool as places to spend quality time. (I searched in vain for anything 'green' in that town, unless you count the colour of the sea water!!)
Oliver Green
MA Member
28.05.2014, 13:42
Great to see a big HLF award going to Blackpool, which has more working class popular culture on its golden mile than the rest of northern England put together, but has always been looked down on very sniffily by both the (southern) arts establishment and the museums sector. Ask any middle class southerner and the chances are that, like the MA, they've never been there. Time to give up Brighton and Bournemouth and book Blackpool for conference in a couple of years' time!
Sarah Kirkham
MA Member
Cataloguing Assistant, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
27.05.2014, 16:47
Typical.. as soon as I leave Blackpool starts to consider getting a Museum. I look forward to hearing about the developments!