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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Foundations laid for new Haig Pit centre

Laying the foundation slab marked a milestone in the progress of the new visitors’ centre at Haig Pit in Whitehaven.

Haig Pit centre graphic
An artist’s impression of what the centre will look like

After years of planning, 150 tonnes of concrete foundations were poured onto the base frame.

It is due to open in July – when the pit celebrates its centenary – with its museum and refurbished powerhouse scheduled to open later in the year.

Pamela Telford, manager of the £2.4m refurbishment, said: “This is such an exciting day for everyone not just those involved with the project but for the whole community. We are finally seeing our ideas become a reality.”

The new centre will sit alongside the Grade II listed Powerhouse building in Kells where the museum will re-open in September. The visitors’ centre will open in July with a cafe and a shop inside. Mrs Telford added: “This new build will be a celebration of our heritage and culture. So many people in this area had grandads and dads who worked the pit and this venture is our way of ensuring their legacy lives on.”

The museum is housed in the former engine house of Haig pit, which was the area’s last remaining deep coal mine when it closed in 1986.

Spanning two floors and using the existing collection, the new museum will reflect the local stories, landscape, traditions and tragedies of the West Cumberland coalfields.

The new-build visitor centre will have a café, decking and play area, an educational/meeting room and an interpretation area focusing on the flora, fauna and marine life of the heritage coastline between Whitehaven and St Bees.”

The visitor centre has been designed by Ian Grice, of Hurd Rolland Partnerships of Manchester.

The museum closed last August to allow staff and volunteers to empty the building, with the most valuable objects being placed with Carlisle Archive and larger pieces put into storage.

Andrew Ainsworth a restoration volunteer for the museum said: “Today is a milestone day for the team we have made so much progress and the end is in sight now.”

Funding came from the Heritage Lottery Fund (NW), Copeland Community Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Foyle Foundation, WREN, Cumbria County Council, Charles Hayward Foundation, FLAG and The Gurney Trust.

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