Published December 18, 2019 at 13:14
A contractor will be appointed in the New Year to begin work on the £1.9million transformation of one of Rossendale’s major tourist attractions.
Rossendale Council in partnership with The Whitaker, in Rawtenstall, secured Heritage Lottery Funding in the summer to convert the former barn and stables; the council also provided matched funding of £189,950.
Although five mature trees, including one that was diseased, were removed to facilitate the work, 10 established trees have been planted to recreate a tree-lined avenue that used to grow in the park.
The tree trunks have been retained and the wood will be sculpted and integrated into the new development.
Councillor Jackie Oakes, portfolio holder for Economic Development, said:
“We will be doubling the space that we have and creating a vibrant cultural hub for Rossendale, a lot of the activities that go on here are limited by the space that we currently have.
“The tender for the work went out in December and we hope to appoint in February with the contractor beginning on site hopefully in March.
“It will be a short building phase and should be complete by Christmas 2020.
Work will start with refurbishing the barn and stables to build a café, events and exhibition space and public facilities.
“In the main part of the museum we will be putting in a shop and renovating historic displays. We will be giving it a facelift with new signage and redecoration.
“The outside will be landscaped and there will be more planting carried out.
“I am pleased we have also planted 10 trees to create a tree-lined avenue. The Whitaker is a jewel in our tourism crown. It is a fabulous cultural asset and its future is bright. “
A new reception will be created to link the buildings and a lift will ensure access to all the different levels. Some of the facilities will be available for private hire.
As part of the redevelopment two further part-time roles are being created that of community development and volunteer co-coordinator and heritage activities co-ordinator.
The project is being managed by Charlotte Steels. She has worked for Lancashire County Council and has previously overseen the renovation of a museum.
“I have a passion for history and I know how important displays in The Whitaker are to local people who have grown up with them so we will be retaining the natural history sections, but we will bringing them up to date with modern interpretation.”
Once building work is complete, there will be a comprehensive programme of community engagement activities to bring all ages into the new facilities and funded as part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.