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£1.3million National Lottery boost for Northumberland heritage


Sep 6, 2016

Natural, built and maritime heritage in Northumberland has been awarded more than £1.3million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Kielder Water & Forest Park, Cresswell’s Pele Tower, St George’s Church in Mickley and Newbiggin’s Rocket House will share the funding, made possible by National Lottery players.

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: “From sea rescue in Newbiggin to ospreys in Kielder, Northumberland has some incredible and varied heritage. Community efforts and personal stories play such a vital role in these projects and we’re delighted to support them thanks to National Lottery players.”

Living wild at Kielder

Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust has secured a £336,300 grant to encourage visitors to venture further into the park and explore its diverse natural heritage. The two year scheme will include activities for all ages from osprey roadshows and food foraging to a young ecologists club and nature trails across the wider landscape. 

The project will have a lasting legacy thanks to the recruitment of volunteers and Wildlife Ambassadors, improving virtual access to the park, the creation of new nature hubs and an annual Wildlife Festival.

Saving a fifteenth-century landmark

Cresswell Pele Tower has been a focal point for the area for over 500 years, but today it has no roof, is closed to the public and is on Historic England’s ‘At Risk’ register. Now the local community’s decades-long ambition to restore the tower has taken a major step forward as Cresswell Parish Council secures support* for a £770,500 grant.

Vital repairs, restoration and a new roof will allow the tower to be removed from the ‘At Risk’ register and finally open its doors for visitors. Visitors and Cresswell’s community, who have been behind the scheme for years, are at the heart of the plans which will include exhibitions, archaeological fieldwork and heritage skills training in stone masonry and blacksmithing.

Raising the roof at St George’s 

St George’s Church in Mickley is also set to be taken off Historic England’s ‘At Risk’ register after gaining support for an £84,000 grant. The red clay tiled roof of the 190 year old building is in need of urgent repair and upgrades to rainwater drainage systems will further halt water damage to its impressive timber roof.

The church does not currently have a water supply which limits community activities. This project will explore the possibility of a water and drainage system which would allow the future installation of toilet and kitchen facilities. The history of the church will be revealed thanks to a heritage trail and the development of a website.

Saving 150 years of heritage at Newbiggin’s Rocket House 

One of the North East’s oldest rocket houses is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year as well as a grant of £153,200 which will help to secure its future.

Alongside volunteer life brigades, rocket houses were used to store equipment needed when lifeboats could not be deployed – two or four wheeled carts would be used to haul coastal rescue equipment to the shipwreck including a rocket launcher that fired rocket rescue lines with rope and a breeches buoy to haul people back to shore. Newbiggin’s Rocket House was built in 1866 and played a vital role in coastal rescue for over a century with generations of families volunteering there until the 1970s.

Led by the Newbiggin Heritage Partnership the project will see the building saved from deterioration, restored and opened to the public. Artefacts, film footage and first-hand accounts will tell the story of the rocket house, volunteers and those whose lives were saved. People of all ages will be able to get involved in marking the Rocket House’s milestone anniversary – volunteers will gain heritage skills, young people will benefit from work placements and educations packs will be created for school children.

By Emily