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Lottery boost for Craven museums'

[Monday 17 April 2006]

Craven's rich and diverse heritage is set to become more accessible to public following a Lottery windfall for the district's museums'

The Craven 'Phoenix Project', developed by the District Council, has been awarded £200,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding. The project aims to get more people involved with Craven's heritage by making local museum collections more available and interesting for the public.

Grassington's Folk Museum benefits from Lottery funding
Grassington's Folk Museum benefits from Lottery funding

The four museums to benefit from the lottery grant over the next five years will be Craven Museum in Skipton; Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway; the Museum of North Craven Life in Settle; and Upper Wharfedale Folk Museum in Grassington.

All the museums have important collections - some with national or even international reputations - which have the potential to bring Craven's history to life through a variety of archaeological and geological artefacts; costume collections and other significant items which illustrate the rich social history of the Southern Dales through lead mining, textile industries and rural lifestyles.

Up to now, the full potential of the museums has not been realised because the resources have not been available to properly showcase the collections. A shortage of volunteers to staff the museums has meant the public has not been given the access needed to appreciate the true value of the collections.

The funding is being described as a "shot in the arm" for Craven's Heritage and Museum Service. Bosses at the Phoenix project now intend to employ a new Community Archaeologist to organise and document the collections so that the public will be able to understand their historical significance.

A programme of outreach work will involve voluntary groups and schools in community based learning; and a Young Archaeologists Club will be set up for budding historians.

Andrew Mackay, Cultural Services Manager who put the bid together, said: "The bid formed part of Craven District Council's long term strategy to maximise the benefits of external funding sources, like the Heritage Lottery Fund, in the interests of local people.

"We are a very small team that tries to do a great deal with very limited resources and facilities so this award represents a quantum leap forward for what cultural services can offer people in Craven"

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