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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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West Cumbrian museum shuts down for £2.4m revamp

A museum will close its doors next week for 15 months while major restoration work is carried out.

Pam Telford photo
Pam Telford at the museum

The £2.4 million improvements at Haig Colliery Mining Museum begin on Monday with the museum being “packed up” and put into storage ready for construction work to begin.

The new visitor centre is due to open next June but the museum and refurbished powerhouse will open several months later.

Manager Pam Telford said: “We will still be here on site and will be decanting the collection into storage. However, the museum will be closed to the public after Monday.

“The new visitor centre will contain all the modern facilities required and is of an innovative design. The powerhouse refurbishment will safeguard the old building, restoring the internal fabric and repairing external damage and windows.”

The current 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 museum collection, the new museum experience will reflect the local stories, landscape, traditions and tragedies of the West Cumberland coalfields. The new-build visitor centre will provide modern facilities for the site, with a café, decking and play area, an educational/meeting room and an interpretation area focusing on the flora, fauna and marine life of the stretch of heritage coastline between Whitehaven and St Bees.

But the museum is not closing quietly, as a family fun day takes place on Saturday between 1pm and 4pm. There will be bouncy castles, face painting, a special visit from Micky and Minnie Mouse and a fire engine.

Mrs Telford added: “Get those cameras out and come along for one of the final museum tours as it is now, before we set off on the wonderful adventure to deliver a fabulous museum, visitor attraction and celebration of our mining heritage.”

The refurbishment project is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (NW), Copeland Community Fund, Garfield Weston, Foyle Foundation, WREN, Charles Hayward Foundation and Guerney Trust.

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