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Mining Heritage Museum

Betteshanger receives funding boost

Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, a major project aimed at regenerating the former East Kent coalfield, is celebrating a number of grants totalling £1.8m, from successful funding applications that include the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Using money raised by National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has confirmed a £1.3m grant, to be used specifically to support the development and operation of the Kent Mining Museum, which will be housed in a new state-of-the-art Visitor Centre at Betteshanger Park, on the site of the former Betteshanger Colliery.

Devised to celebrate and preserve Kent’s coal mining heritage, the Kent Mining Museum will embrace a unique collection of oral history, archives and artefacts, many of which would otherwise be in danger of being lost forever.

Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “Kent’s mining heritage isn’t as well-known as other parts of the country but it was of national importance and changed the social and economic make-up of the region. East Kent is the only coalfield without its own regional museum and our committee felt that this project is a fitting way to celebrate and preserve this industrial past.”

Richard Morsley, Director, Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, said: “The success of the Round 2 HLF funding application recognises the importance of East Kent's coal mining heritage and the need to preserve this heritage for future generations.  The Kent Mining Museum will be a venue where this heritage is explored and where Kent's unique position as a coalfield community can be better understood.”  

In addition to HLF, the Garfield Weston Foundation has awarded the project £500,000. A grant of £25,000 has come from the Foyle Foundation and The Swire Charitable Trust has awarded £18,000.

Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, Philippa Charles, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the ambitious redevelopment of Betteshanger Park and playing a part in helping to preserve East Kent’s mining heritage. The Trustees are pleased to make a significant contribution to a resource that we hope will have a positive impact on communities across Kent.”

Using the widely-recognised Shellard Formula, it is anticipated that the Betteshanger Project will contribute a much-needed £6.2 million annually to the East Kent economy.

Owned by the Hadlow Group and developed in partnership with the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation, the Betteshanger Project will see the redevelopment of the former colliery site. The three-fold aim of the Project is to: transform the former Betteshanger Colliery into a centre for sustainable energy; improve significantly the sport and leisure activities currently on the 250-acre site, and; establish a Museum that records and displays the century-long history of coal mining in East Kent. It will focus on stories of Kent’s mining heritage connecting ‘energy old’, with the sustainable energies of the future.

The Kent Mining Heritage Foundation has also set up a Development Group to lead the fundraising campaign. It is made up of key figures from all over the county, among them Amanda Cottrell OBE; Brig. David Ralls CBE DFC DL;   Des Crampton DL;  George Jenkins OBE; James Ryeland; Jim Davies; Lady Anne-Marie Nelson CBE DL; Lady Northbourne; Paul Hudson;  Peter Williams MBE; Valerie Hale DL.

Lady Northbourne, who chairs the group, said: “To describe this as a great start to our fundraising campaign is an understatement! Early support from these major funders is vital and a huge boost. We still have a massive task on our hands but we are confident we can raise the remaining £1.2m to reach our fundraising target. This funding will make a huge difference to the quality of the project we are creating at Betteshanger.” 

Jim Davies, former Betteshanger miner, said “We are delighted Kent’s mining heritage is going to be recognised in a new museum that will pay tribute to my fellow miners and their families. The Kent coalfield closed in 1989 and it played such an important social and economic role for the county and its people – bringing together a diverse community that remains strong today.  Kent Mining Museum and the wider Betteshanger Park and is a great project that will educate thousands of people a year about Kent’s relatively unknown mining heritage – it is the project we’ve been waiting for, for over 28 years.”

Using funds already raised, work has begun on the new £8m Visitor Centre at Betteshanger Park. The Centre will house the Kent Mining Museum, a Green Energy Centre, conferencing and events facilities, a café serving local produce and a Cycle Centre – with external facilities that include a mining-themed play park, a 3-acre events amphitheatre and improved sporting and leisure facilities.

The new Visitor Centre is scheduled to open in spring 2017 and the Museum in the summer.

For further media information on Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, please contact Lynnette Crisp at Lynnette.Crisp@betteshangerparks.co.uk or call 01304 619227.

About Betteshanger Sustainable Parks:

  • Betteshanger Park, until recently known as Fowlmead Country Park, is operated as part of the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks scheme and is integral to the regeneration of the former mining community in East Kent. Facilities include a 3km road cycling track, 10km of mountain bike trails, leisure paths and established woodlands, wetlands and reed beds full of wildlife.
  • Betteshanger Sustainable Parks is part of the Hadlow Group, which includes Hadlow College, a premier UK land-based college, ranked Ofsted Outstanding.
  • The £40 million Betteshanger Sustainable Parks scheme, near Deal, in East Kent, will drive regeneration of the site and the area, combining sustainable business and commerce, education, sustainable energy and tourism.
  • Located on the site of the former Betteshanger colliery, the scheme will see the 121-hectare site transformed into a much-enhanced Country Park, with new Visitor Centre encompassing the Kent Mining Museum and Betteshanger Business Park.

 About the Heritage Lottery Fund:

Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF invests money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery

About Garfield Weston:

The Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded charitable grant-making foundation which supports a wide range of causes across the UK, donating over £58million in the most recent financial year. It was established in 1958 by Willard Garfield Weston and since then has donated over £900million, becoming one of the largest and most respected charitable institutions in the UK. The trustees are descendants of the founder and the Weston Family takes a highly active and hands-on approach. www.garfieldweston.org

Posted on 21/07/2016