Desborough museum seeks lottery cash

Desborough Heritage Centre are showing a display on the town's former railway station. Pictured are (L-R): display producer Peter Phillips, volunteer Steve Richards & centre manager Bellinda Humfrey.
Desborough Heritage Centre are showing a display on the town's former railway station. Pictured are (L-R): display producer Peter Phillips, volunteer Steve Richards & centre manager Bellinda Humfrey.

Volunteers at a popular museum say they have big plans to develop the facility, providing Lottery funding can be secured.

Staff at the Desborough Heritage Centre want to raise at least £1m in order to purchase the building, as well as make significant refurbishments to dilapidated back rooms, and are in the process of applying for Lottery money.

Cllr Belinda Humfrey, the centre’s manager, said the building’s extra rooms had a lot of potential to be used as a significant community asset.

She added: “It’s amazing. The Heritage Lottery officers would be jumping for joy if they saw all this.”

But she also said the centre needed help in order to reach its target. It has to raise five per cent of the total, or £50,000, themselves in the form of match funding, and Cllr Humfrey has appealed for local firms to come forward to offer to sponsor the project.

“We raise all our money through things like coffee mornings and raffles,” she added. “We used to sell 300 to 350 copies a month of our newsletter. The community does it all on its own.”

Treasurer Mark Maguire said there were big plans to modernise the museum.

He said: “We want to make the museum more interactive, bring it into the 21st century with touch screens.

“If we can open up the rooms that are not usable, we can expand on what we show.”

There are also plans to create a public research room, to allow residents to look into their family history at the centre, which used to be a factory and a Co-operative retailer.

Cllr Humfrey said: “We have the sort of local records that you would not find anywhere else.”

Mr Maguire said he was keen to go through with the developments as quickly as possible, adding: “There are local people here who worked in the shoe industry, who remember as it was. We need to catch them.”