Funding blow for Desborough Heritage Centre

Desborough Heritage Centre
Desborough Heritage Centre

Volunteers at a town’s heritage centre say they are disappointed after a big hurdle was placed in the way of the centre’s bid for lottery funding.

Desborough Heritage Centre currently rents its Station Road premises from the Midland Co-operative Society.

But they were told by the Heritage Lottery Fund they needed to own the premises before they could receive funding.

And after being under the impression they could agree a price with the society, the centre has instead been informed it will only have its lease renewed.

Heritage centre manager Belinda Humfrey said the set-back was appalling. She has vowed to continue the fight to secure funding, describing the disappointment as a new challenge.

Ms Humfrey, who is also the chairman of the town’s civic society, said: “We were going for £1m and had got everything set up.

“They are not going to give us that sort of money unless we own the property and the Co-op only intends to renew the lease.”

Staff at the Desborough Heritage Centre had wanted to raise at least £1m in order to buy the building, as well as make significant refurbishments to dilapidated back rooms and an unused yard at the rear of the building.

Ms Humfrey added: “We had got designers in, we were going to put new things in the converted rooms.

“The whole place was going to be reconstructed.”

Ms Humfrey has said the building’s extra rooms had a lot of potential to be used as a significant community asset.

And she said: “We are ploughing on. I’m glad to announce that we are entering the present year, 2013, facing this disappointment as a challenge.”

The centre, which has 60 volunteers keeping it going, currently has two window displays, on Desborough’s railway station and on memories of childhood in the town during the 1940s and 1950s.

The latter has drawn on interviews with about 100 residents.

The centre was named the Northamptonshire’s museum of the year last year and Ms Humfrey said: “I would think there are very few heritage centres or museums as lively as ours.”

And she has appealed for people to make their voices heard by nominating the centre for the people’s choice award at the Northamptonshire Museums and Historic Houses Forum. Voting forms are available at the centre until the end of June.