By Andrew Holt

Two grants totalling over £1.3m have today been awarded to two projects in Bristol and North Somerset.

The iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge and Clevedon Pier, who have each received Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants of £595,000 and £720,000 respectively, can now get started with exciting heritage projects.

Since 1994, HLF has invested over £84m into preserving Bristol and North Somerset’s rich and varied heritage.

From restoring SS Great Britain to creating a first-class museum experience at M-Shed, the effect of Lottery money is plain for all to see.

Today’s two grants will add to this investment and revitalise some of the area’s most impressive heritage hotspots.

Richard Bellamy, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “These two projects reflect the truly wonderful Victorian heritage we have here in Bristol and North Somerset.

"Today’s substantial HLF investment will not only enable vital improvement works to begin at both sites but also offer a fantastic range of training and volunteering opportunities for local people, ranging from curating exhibitions to supporting community events.

"We are delighted to be supporting these transformational projects that will provide real and far-reaching benefits to local heritage, communities and visitors.”

The projects:

Clifton Suspension Bridge Heritage and Learning Centre - £595,000
Opened in 1864, the Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by and completed as a memorial to Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Spanning the dramatic Avon Gorge and linking Bristol and North Somerset, the bridge is a defining image of Bristol. HLF’s grant will enable the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust to open up the bridge’s unique history to a much wider audience in time for the 150th anniversary of the bridge’s completion in 2014. A new learning centre will be built, on the North Somerset side of the bridge, and will provide space for schools and community groups to meet and learn.

Learning themes include: Brunel and Bristol; engineering past and present; and the history of Avon Gorge. A range of exhibits will based around these themes, among others, and will encourage visitors to better understand the bridge and its place in local life over the last hundred years.

The Trust’s volunteer base, currently consisting of 30 people, will be expanded as part of the project with the help of extended space and improved facilities. Volunteers will have the chance to gain new skills including, exhibition design, conservation practices and website design.

A new Community Learning and Volunteering Officer will be recruited and will lead the volunteer troupe.

Clevedon Pier: Providing a sustainable future - £720,000
As the only intact Grade I listed pier in England, Clevedon Pier is of immense heritage importance and much-loved by the local community.

Opened to the public in 1869 the pier - consisting of a promenade stretching into the sea, built using old Barlow railway lines from Brunel’ s Great Western Railway broad gauge, a glazed pavilion and pagodas - stands as a reminder of the golden Victorian age of seaside holidays.

HLF’s funding will enable the Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust to create a sustainable future for the pier ensuring its survival for the next hundred years.

Central to the plans is vastly improving the visitor facilities on site and increasing learning and volunteering opportunities for local people – helping to generate income for the Trust and enable the restoration of some of the piers most important elements.

A much-needed new visitor space will be created and used for community events, workshops and learning activities and will also include a café and toilet facilities, helping the Pier become a first-class heritage attraction once again. These improvements will also boost visitor numbers and contribute to the local economy.

An exciting range of learning activities will be introduced and be based around key themes, including the exploring the engineering behind the pier structure and the social and natural history of the site and surrounding area.

The existing volunteer team will be increased and will have important roles to play, including leading guided tours, supporting school visits and planning community events.

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Other stories you may find of interest:

Research reveals how the UK is failing to get the most out of its heritage
The UK’s heritage assets remain largely untapped by local authorities and could play a much greater role in helping their area thrive and succeed as a place, according to the new report launched today by the RSA. Commissioned to inform the debate at Heritage Exchange, a new thought leadership event organised in partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the RSA, the report warns that many local leaders disregard the potential offered by local heritage when developing their local area’s economic, cultural or social strategies.

UK’s first Local Impact Fund launches in Liverpool
The Social Investment Business and Social Enterprise North West will today launch the UK’s first Local Impact Fund in Liverpool, piloting an innovative financial product expected to channel more than £100 million to charities and social enterprises that meet local needs throughout England. The £2 million Liverpool City Region Impact Fund will offer business support and simple finance to local charities and social enterprises, providing unsecured loans of up to £250,000, helping them to grow and scale up the impact they make in their communities.

Research reveals UK heritage funding in a vulnerable state
New research by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) reveals that 60% of heritage organisations still rely on grants from funders as their biggest source of income; 21% continue to receive government funding for their projects and 39% depend on grants from other organisations. Only 12% of heritage organisations are sourcing non grant-based financing. In a time of cuts and reductions, this leaves many heritage organisations in a vulnerable position.




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