As the heritage sector grapples with Lockdown 3, its worth remembering that there is a large amount of advice and help available for industrial heritage. For instance, the Association of Independent Museums has updated its Coronavirus resources page. There you can find links to the latest Government advice for museums, the second round of the Cultural Recovery Fund (closing on the 26 January 2021), financial support, and other funding packages available from Government for heritage businesses.
AIM also provides online training and detailed advice for museums during lockdown, from a COVID-19 Action Checklist, business resilience checklist, and good governance in a crisis, to insurance, business rates, and funding tips. There’s also details about how to improve your online and digital presence. Follow this link for more details: Coronavirus resources – AIM – Association of Independent Museums (aim-museums.co.uk)
Queen Street Mill Museum, which is run by Lancashire County Council, has openings for two posts in 2021. Both are permanent and the closing date for applications is the 29th January 2021.
Firstly, they are seeking a Weaving Technician. This role is to perform preventative maintenance, repair, and overhaul of the historic textile machinery held in the collections associated with Queen Street Mill Textile Museums. The job is for 37 hours a week. For further information and how to apply, please click here.
Secondly, they are look for a Technical Demonstrator for a range of historic machinery in a safe manner to provide engaging interpretation to visitors. This post will assist in the maintenance of the machinery and its environs as required and contribute to the manufacture of woven fabric to a high standard. The post will also support all museum operations and activities in order to ensure visitors gain the best possible experience of their visit to the museum. The job is for 29.6 hours per week. For further information and how to apply, please click here.
A second round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is now open. This fund is part of the rescue package announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across England from the continuing economic impact of COVID-19.
This latest round of funding looks forward to next spring and early summer when it is expected that cultural organisations will be able to operate with fewer restrictions. Over £300 million of grants will be available, covering the period April-June 2021, to support cultural organisations with the costs they will face as they welcome back visitors and customers.
Historic England are working in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund to distribute £36 million of this Government funding to organisations in England, based on criteria set by DCMS. This second round will offer grants of between £10,000 and £3 million to support organisations to make the transition towards full reopening. The fund will be open for applications from Thursday 7 January 2021 and organisations can apply any time from then until Tuesday 26 January 2021.
The Museum of Bath at Work are planning to publicise the Museum in the centre of Bath by having one or two volunteers dressed as Victorian or Edwardian trades-people with bicycles carrying adverts for the Museum. This is part of their COVID-19 recovery plan for re-opening the museum later in 2021. Thus, the Museum is looking for a suitable bike.
Do you know of an old tradesman’s bike for loan or sale? Ideally it should have a frame for a basket or box on the front or back, or both. Any condition considered as long as the bike is reasonably complete. The museum will collect as the current COVID restrictions allow. Please contact the museum if you can help.
Part of the rescue package announced by DCMS earlier this month (December 2020) is specifically to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across England from the economic impact of COVID-19. The second round of the Culture Recovery Fund looks forward to next spring and early summer when it is expected (hoped) that cultural organisations will be able to operate with fewer restrictions. Over £300million of grants will be available, covering the period April-June, to support cultural organisations with the costs they will face as they welcome back visitors.
Grants for Heritage
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is distributing £36m of this government funding to organisations in England, in partnership with Historic England, based on criteria set by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This second round will offer grants of between £10,000 and £3m to support organisations to make the transition towards full reopening. The fund will be open for applications from 7 January 2021 and you can apply any time from then until 26 January 2021.
The other element of Culture Recovery Fund support available is Repayable Finance, which has a budget of up to £100m. Culture Recovery Fund 2: Repayable Finance allocations have a lower limit of £1m and no upper limit. Both not-for-profit and commercial organisations will be able to apply.
Nenthead Mines Conservation Society, a volunteer-led charity, has made a successful application to Cumbria County Council for a community asset transfer (where a building or land is transferred from public ownership to a community, voluntary or social enterprise group). The council worked closely with the society in the lead-up to the formal handover in October. The transfer follows several years in which the society acted as custodians and caretakers of the site on behalf of the council.
The transfer means that the site is now in the hands of a community group that is best placed to drive forward the conservation, management and future of the site. Nenthead Mines Conservation Society is working alongside partners including the Environment Agency and the Coal Authority, along with local groups to effectively manage and maintain the site for the benefit of the local community and for visitors. The Nenthead Mines area is a nationally significant industrial heritage site. Parts of the area are classed as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the majority of the land is classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) by Historic England, which provides protection against the land being redeveloped for other purposes.
Claire Driver, Cumbria County Councillor for Alston and East Fellside, said: “This is fantastic news for the society, who have been such passionate and enthusiastic caretakers of this site for a long time. To formally transfer the site to them is a milestone for the local community and the site is now in the hands of those who know best how to manage and maintain this nationally significant landscape. I am very pleased to know that the future of this important community asset is now assured, and I’d like to thank everyone involved behind the scenes to make this happen.”
Peter Jackson, Chairman of the Nenthead Mines Conservation Society Trustees, said: “Our members have put a great deal of time and resources into managing the Mines over the last few years. We are proud to be taking over the responsibility for caring for this fabulous historic site.”
Staff from the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre have launched a Crowdfunding campaign to illuminate the bridge with a special light show. This is part of the Museums Association’s #SupportOurMuseums campaign, a new UK-wide initiative to support museums as they face the huge challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.The Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was built between 1831 and 1864.
‘Light the Night’ is intended to create a special moment to surprise and delight the people of Bristol whilst raising funds to support the Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, which has missed out on more than eight months of income and essential visitor support due to the 2020 lockdowns. The Visitor Centre is reliant on visitor donations, shop sales and tour ticketing as all toll income is used for the preservation and maintenance of the bridge itself. Chair of the Trust, Chris Booy said “illuminating the bridge will provide a moment of joy and light during the darkest months of the year whilst ensuring that the Visitor Centre is open for everyone to enjoy for years to come. The project will be the first time that the Trust has illuminated the bridge in this way, and every person supporting the Crowdfunder is invited to cast a vote and help choose the colour.”
Although the bridge is illuminated every evening with signature white LEDs, the bridge is rarely lit with colour as this requires additional equipment such as floodlights and generators to be installed. The scheme will only go ahead if a funding target of £10,000 is reached – but if it is exceeded additional elements such as lasers or projections are also planned.
Visitor Services Manager Laura Hilton said “we’ll only find out the results of the vote when we hit the fundraising target, so it’s an exciting project for the whole visitor team. We would normally have spent the year welcoming visitors and working with local schools so the project is an innovative way for us to connect with the local community and make people smile as well as keeping us hard at work during a quiet period as we plan and manage the project.”
The date of the display has yet to be announced because of uncertainties around coronavirus, but the Visitor Centre team are going to ensure that careful planning can mean it goes ahead in a COVID-secure manner.
The second online Industrial Heritage Network meeting was held on 20th November 2020 by the North West IHN group. 15 people joined that meeting. Shane Gould of Historic England talked about current developments relating to Industrial Heritage. The current IHSO, Mike Nevell, then brought everyone up-to-date with the project and some of the impacts of COVID-19.
Mike noted that in October, 10 industrial heritage organisations in North West England received £1.21 million from the Cultural Recovery Fund. This was split into £0.41m from Arts Council England and £0.8m from Historic England. The grants were to support a variety of industrial heritage sites including the British Commercial Vehicle Museum, Catalyst, Leigh Building Preservation Trust, and the Ribble Steam Railway.
Members then discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their work from volunteering to maintenance and visitor numbers. Only 50% of protected industrial heritage sites in England open to the public were able to re-open their doors after the first pandemic. More than 50 sites decided in July and August not to open at all during 2020. Most of these were smaller, largely volunteer-run, industrial heritage sites.
In general IHN NW members recorded no drop-off in volunteer numbers and enthusiasm, despite the first lockdown and continuing restrictions across much of the North West. Tim Kirker of the Calderdale Industrial Museum noted that although the museum was closed in the first lockdown, volunteers were keen to return once it re-opened. Anthony Pilling of the Heritage Trust for the North West also noted a strong desire by volunteers to continue to help, even during lockdown and even though some of their sites remained closed after July. Tony Nixon of Bancroft Mills also observed that whilst they were unable to open to the public after the first lockdown the entirely volunteer-run museum has continued to function with strong volunteer support. Andrew Fielding of ECOSAL commented that virtual meetings were a very useful way of staying in contact with volunteers and that such meetings were not only financially beneficial, but also reached a wider audience.
Finally, Mike Nevell noted that during the first lockdown the UK Government had issued guidelines for safe COVID-19 working by volunteers and that Historic England had issued specific guidance on adapting heritage sites for safe COVID-19 working. There is a link to the latter on the IHSO website site.
As announced in the summer of 2020, the Industrial Heritage Network meetings have gone online. The first online meeting was held on 25th October 2020 by the IHN London group. 18 people joined that meeting and the current IHSO, Michael Nevell, brought everyone up-to-date with the project and some of the impacts of COVID-19. Shane Gould of Historic England and Helen O’Hara of London Museum Development talked about current developments relating to Industrial Heritage and resources available to London-based groups.
Mike noted that in October, 18 industrial heritage organisations in London & the South East received £4.67 million from the Cultural Recovery Fund. This was split into £1.32m from Arts Council England and £3.35m from Historic England. The grants were to support a variety of industrial heritage sites including the Kent & East Sussex Railway, London Transport Museum, and Waltham Abbey. Members then discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their work from volunteering to maintenance and visitor numbers.
One of the themes to emerge from the two hour meeting was the role of new online communication and interaction, this being the first IHN to meet online via the ZOOM platform. As part of this discussion, Oliver Pearcy from the London Museum of Water and Steam noted that they had been using an online booking system for visitors post-lockdown. Martin Wicks from the Kempton Steam Museum reported that they had been using an Instagram account to reach out and engage with members of the public. And Mary Mills of the Greenwich Industrial Historical Group noted that they had used a variety of online forms of communication during lockdown which had produced a good response from members and non-members. There was also some debate about the value of online meetings versus in person, experiential, meetings, many people noting that the two serve slightly different purposes and audiences.
With that in mind, the next IHN London meeting, online, will be in 2021. Hopefully an in-person meeting with remote access, will follow later in 2021.
A partial re-opening of the heritage sector is now underway in England with the ending of the second lockdown today (2 December 2020). However, industrial heritage sites, along with other cultural and museum venues, remain closed under the revised Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions.
Re-opening guidance for museums were issued in July 2020 by the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) Planning and Remobilisation Group, with support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and contributions from across the museum sector, including AIM. They are intended for use by museums in England. Separate re-opening guidelines are available for Scottish and Welsh cultural and heritage sites. This is guidance will also be relevant for all industrial heritage sites planning to open early in 2021.
The Association of Independent Museums and the Museum Development Network have produced a checklist to be used in conjunction with the Guidelines, to help museums take a strategic, well informed, approach to making decisions on re-opening and implementing a safe and effective plan in conjunction with the national guidance for museums.