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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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First stage of mine museum’s revamp on track for summer opening

The first phase of a £2.4 million refurbishment of a west Cumbrian museum will be complete in five months.

Pamela Telford photo
Pamela Telford

Haig Colliery Mining Museum in Whitehaven closed its door last August for staff to empty the building in preparation for a major revamp which will see a new visitor centre and the restoration of the former engine house.

Last month the builders moved in and work is on track for the visitor centre – which will have a cafe, shop, reception and a multi-functional exhibition room – to open in the middle of July.

The rest of the development on the museum and revamped powerhouse is hoped to be complete by the end of the year.

Manager Pamela Telford, said: “It’s a very exciting time for us. Handing over to the contractors [Thomas Armstrong] releases us to develop what is actually going to be going on here later in the year.

“At last we will have the facilities to further develop Haig as a tourist attraction, community venue and a memorial to our industrial past here along the Cumberland coalfield.”

The former engine house, which was the area’s last remaining deep coal mine when it closed in 1986, will house an exhibition looking at local coal mining stories and characters, images and memorabilia on the first floor, with the second floor developing the theme of life associated with coal.

Funding for the project has came from a £1.4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund with the remaining cash awarded from a number of organisations including Copeland Community Fund, Britain’s Energy Coast and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

“We have been very fortunate to raise the amount of money that we have and are very grateful,” added Pamela. “However, a building like this can be a black hole as far as money is concerned so we have had to prioritise the work that is carried out to ensure the best results for the museum and building itself, with the hope of further works in years to come.”

She added that there will be future fundraisers for different projects and pieces of work.

Most of the museum collection has gone to the archive at Carlisle for safekeeping, and the larger pieces of props and machinery are stored on the Kells site.

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