Heritage Lottery Fund gives green light to Plymouth History Centre funding

Plymouth’s incredible past looks set to have an amazing future with confirmation of a £14.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, HLF has just announced an investment of £55m for heritage projects across England – with Plymouth receiving £14.8m for the delivery phase of the History Centre.

The History Centre project had already received a £940,300 grant from the HLF to work up detailed designs for the buildings and exhibition spaces and secured planning permission during its development phase.

The new funding package will now enable the team to undertake the building, construction and fit-out elements of the project – transforming the existing City Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke’s Church buildings into one major new attraction.

Plymouth University is a partner through its research, teaching and the University’s public arts programme, Peninsula Arts. Professor Dafydd Moore, Executive Dean of Arts and Humanities at Plymouth University, said:

“I am delighted that the ambitious vision for the History Centre and all the hard work dedicated to realising it has been endorsed by the HLF. Plymouth University is proud to be supporting a project of such significance. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership to ensure that the importance of Plymouth’s place in history and the place of history in Plymouth are understood, celebrated and can act as an inspiration for our future.”

Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch said:

“Our heritage provides us with a sense of identity and helps boost tourism, local economies and people’s wellbeing. These grants will have a huge impact on a range of projects across England. I am delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to help preserve important parts of our heritage for the public to enjoy.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said:

“Plymouth’s heritage collections are of national and international importance, reflecting Plymouth’s important role in world history as well as its own fascinating story. Thanks to National Lottery players, the collections will be brought together with people given unprecedented access to them, taking ownership of how their history is presented. We’re truly delighted to support this transformational and exciting project, which will boost Plymouth as a major cultural destination, and create some fantastic employment, learning and volunteering opportunities.”

Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet Member for Culture at Plymouth City Council, said:

“This is brilliant news for Plymouth, brilliant news for the region and brilliant news for anyone who shares our passion about our history and culture here in the South West. To have HLF commit £14.8m shows how impressed they are with our aspirations for the History Centre. This is a huge deal for all the team and partners who have worked on this extraordinary project. It’s now all systems go!”

The History Centre will cover 3,500 square metres and will include exhibition and gallery spaces, both permanent and touring exhibitions.

Galleries will celebrate subjects including the city’s most influential figures such as Drake and Scott of the Antarctic; Plymouth’s relationship with the Royal Navy; life in the waters around the city: Plymouth’s prehistoric landscape and the West Country’s artistic legacy, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Cottonian collection and the Newlyn School of Artists.

Outside, a new public square will transform Tavistock Place with a place for activities and special events as well as cafes.

The centre will see five of Plymouth’s major heritage collections come together in one location. The Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, South West Film and Television Archive and South West Image Bank will join the Local Studies and Reference Collection and the City Museum and Art Gallery‘s significant art, human history and natural history collections on the Tavistock Place/North Hill site.

Councillor Ian Bowyer, Leader of Plymouth City Council, which committed £8m to the project said:

“This is wonderful news for the city and we’re really grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their whole hearted support. We’ve been making huge strides with our cultural offer and attracting visitors, but this centre will take us to the next level. Now this funding is in place, we can crack on with creating something special in time for the Mayflower 400 celebrations.”

David Beadel, Chair of the South West Film and Television Archive, said:

“This is a further endorsement of the HLF’s confidence in our plans for this major cultural landmark. The History Centre will allow us to transform the public’s access to our region’s amazing heritage, much of which is captured in SWFTA’s film archive. Approval is a huge credit to the hard work of the project team.”

Maureen Selley, Secretary of the Devon Family History Society (FHS) and one of the founders of the Heritage Consortium, said:

“Our members are delighted to hear that the HLF Round 2 award is now in place. We have actively supported the development of the Plymouth History Centre since the beginning. This building will bring together all the important heritage resources at present spread across the city. It will create a visitor centre unparalleled in the South West.”

Nigel Godefroy, of the South West Image Bank said:

"This is hugely positive news for the History Centre, which once complete will be hugely exciting and transformational for our city. I am delighted that this represents a major step forward in bringing it to fruition.”

The decant of the City Museum and Art Gallery’s collections is already underway and the building will close to the public at the end of Saturday 3 September.

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