Published June 24, 2019 at 13:25
New life is to be breathed into buildings at one of Rossendale’s iconic tourism locations thanks to a £1.7million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.
Rossendale Borough Council worked in partnership with The Whitaker, in Rawtenstall, to secure the National Lottery Heritage Fund award to convert the former barn and stables and a further £189,950 of matched funding was provided by the council.
The grant, thanks to National Lottery players will see the area transformed and enable the café and bar to be relocated and that will double the space the museum currently has.
The vacated rooms will once more showcase artefacts from the museum’s extensive collection and will provide for a themed area reflecting more modern history including memorabilia from the heyday of The Astoria Ballroom.
Managing Director of The Whitaker Carl Bell said:
“The theme of the expansion is nature, society and creativity.
“We had a great belief in the whole wider project from day one and this has partly kept us going for years. The other part has been our tremendous staff, volunteers and of course our visitors and local community.
“Thank you all so much and thank you to the National Lottery players. This is another big step in the renaissance of the Valley watch this space.”
The development has been two-and-a-half years in the planning and crucial to its success are plans to capture local stories of how residents came to live in Rossendale, both those who moved from Ireland and more recently families who have come from South Asia.
Rossendale Council leader Councillor Alyson Barnes said:
“The expansion and development of The Whitaker and its adjacent buildings offers amazing potential for the museum to become the focal point for tourists coming into Rossendale.
“As they will also be working to promote and encourage visitors to go on to explore the many other attractions that the Valley has to offer, this can only help to also boost the economies of nearby towns.
“What was once just a museum has become so much more. I praise the time, effort and vision of everyone who has been associated with The Whitaker’s development.”
The new space will incorporate a large catering kitchen and an event space for functions, films and much more. It is hoped the renovation will be complete by August 2020.
Project Manager Stephen Anderson, chairman of Valley Heritage, said:
“I am relieved and delighted that the funding has been agreed.
“I believe it is an exceptional project. I have personally worked on a number of heritage funded projects over the years but this one stands out as being one of the best collaborations.
“This is a project that I am incredibly proud of and it will be a major boost to the whole of Rossendale and that is very important.”
David Renwick, Area Director for the North, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“Thanks to National Lottery players this grant will re-imagine The Whitaker Museum as a key destination for Rossendale as part of its tourism and regeneration strategy. Together, with the other awards totalling £10m made today – including a dazzling new museum of UK entertainment for Blackpool and an iconic cinema building turned world-class entertainment venue in Bradford – this funding gives a clear message of how heritage-led regeneration can play a key part in the future of the North and supporting the Northern Powerhouse. We cannot wait to see these projects in action.”