Axminster Heritage Centre scoops £520,000 Lotto cash

PUBLISHED: 11:01 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:28 10 January 2018

MP Neil Parish visited the attraction in June 2016 and is pictured here with Axminster Heritage Ltd  chairman Dr John Church. Picture: Contributed

MP Neil Parish visited the attraction in June 2016 and is pictured here with Axminster Heritage Ltd chairman Dr John Church. Picture: Contributed

Archant

The money will pay for the final phase of the restoration project at Thomas Whitty House

The final phase of works to complete Axminster Heritage Centre is set to go ahead thanks to a £520 000 National Lottery grant.

The money will be used to complete the restoration of Thomas Whitty House and the creation of a modern interactive display exhibition.

Axminster Heritage Ltd, which runs the Silver Street centre, says it will give Axminster ‘an attraction which will appeal to residents and tourists of all ages’.

A spokesman said: “These extensive improvements to the existing centre will tell the story of Axminster including its world famous carpet industry and include the provision of educational and research facilities.

“This final phase of the project will considerably enlarge the gallery display area and enable it to become a modern interactive attraction with wider appeal.

“The existing displays will be reinterpreted in order to do justice to both the heritage collection and the rich history of Axminster. In addition, the entrance carriageway and old Drill Hall will be restored, including the addition of a mezzanine floor for conservation and research work, storage and a new office.

“A new reception area will include a small shop and the visitor information point.”

The Axminster Heritage Centre opened to the public for the first time at Easter 2016 and is managed and run by a very active and dedicated group of local volunteers.

The temporary visitor exhibition has proved very popular and trial craft courses, workshops, films and talks are well attended. Part of the Lottery grant will pay to expand these community activities.

The new building work is expected to begin this month, with completion in September. The centre, now closed for winter, will open again as usual in March but with a smaller display whilst the work is underway.

The new visitor displays will then be installed by February 2019 in time for the centre to open at the end of March 2019.

Commenting on the National Lottery award, John Church, Chairman of the Trustees, said: “We are delighted to receive this support thanks to National Lottery players. Our start-up exhibition has been open to the public for two seasons and has proved very popular both with visitors and members of the local community. This award will enable us to more fully realise our vision – we want to help inform residents of their local heritage and contribute to Axminster’s regeneration by attracting more visitors to the town.”

Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the restoration of Thomas Whitty House, and plans to transform access to Axminster’s heritage, have taken a vital step forward. We’re pleased to support this project which will build on previous National Lottery investment into the site and look forward to the benefits it will bring for Axminster’s heritage and the wider community.”

** While the Gallery is closed over the winter, supporters can find details of the ongoing events and keep up with the developments on the Axminster Heritage website www.axminsterheritage.org.uk and Facebook pages

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