A new an exciting phase in the life of a much-loved museum and art gallery is to get underway after being awarded almost £250,000 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

The ‘Brampton is Growing’ (BiG) project will see Brampton Museum’s existing building sensitively extended and modernised to provide new spaces for visitors of all ages. The new learning and exhibitions spaces, and a range of interior improvements, will allow more diverse audiences and more meaningful and enjoyable visits.

Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, Jill Waring, said: “The museum is really well-loved and has become known as Newcastle-under-Lyme’s ‘hidden gem’, set as it is in beautiful Brampton Park. Before the BiG project got underway, we listened to the views of our visitors and local community groups as well as the schools who already regularly use the museum to understand what was wanted and needed. We will now see these aspirational plans and activities taking shape.

“We believe that the new programme will attract and involve more visitors from the local community, including people who do not currently visit or engage with the museum, and we will see it grow as a destination for leisure and learning. It’s going to be a wonderful transformation and we can’t wait to see it completed.”

An interesting part of the plans involves converting an unused courtyard into a brand new temporary exhibitions gallery that will be used to reflect the vibrant history, arts and culture of the borough.

There will also be an accessible-to-all, bright and spacious education and activity space with views looking out over the park, a new research and volunteer work room, a new shop and a refreshment area.

The extended space will allow more of the museum’s extensive collection to be displayed, telling new stories about the borough, and the long-needed storage areas will ensure the collection is safe for generations to come. To celebrate the transformation there will be a three-year series of inter-active activities and events organised once the work is complete. This stage of the BiG Project will also allow the museum to expand its volunteer opportunities to help the museum’s staff to research and share Newcastle’s stories, and to assist with events and activities. This will help local people to build on their own skills, provide more social opportunities and increase the community’s involvement in the work of the museum.

Funding for this stage of the BiG Project has come from Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society, Red Industries Landfill Communities Fund, Appetite and the Friends of Brampton Museum.

Anne Jenkins, the National Lottery Heritage Fund Director, Midlands and East, said: “We are delighted to support this project which, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep.”

The Chair of Friends of Brampton Museum, Beryl Carter, said: “The Brampton Museum is one of Newcastle-under-Lyme’s greatest treasures giving access to the past of Newcastle and surrounding areas. It is such good news for the area that this project is now underway. The Friends are delighted to give it their support and look forward to using the new facilities.”

Joan Howe, Chair of the former Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society, said: “Newcastle Under Lyme Civic Society is proud to be a contributor to the expansion of the Brampton Museum. We are very lucky to have a forward looking museum of such quality which, with the expansion, will be able to continue to enhance the lives of the children, community and general populous.”

Nigel Bowen, Chief Executive Officer at Red Industries, commented: “We are delighted to provide a contribution to funding for the Brampton Museum’s new spaces project.

“The Red Industries landfill communities fund supports projects which directly benefit the
community, and to date we have funded some £1.7million of initiatives in the local areas around our facilities. We very much look forward to them opening and the community enjoying the new exhibition and activity spaces we have helped create.”

Contractors Sandycroft were due to move on to the site on 1 March. The BiG construction project is set to be completed by August 2021 with the museum opening to the public late 2021/early 2022.

The Activity Programme will run until August 2024, later than originally planned due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions that meant the museum was temporarily closed to the public.

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