The future is looking bright for Northumberland as more money is being invested in the region.
Over £25,306,745 has been awarded to the area by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), to encourage future investment, support tourism and create jobs for local people through protecting heritage.
The Borough of Wansbeck is one recipient of exciting HLF grants. Most recently the medieval market town of Bedlington was awarded over £600,000 through the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) to restore and regenerate the area around the historic market square.
THI rejuvenates historic town centres, instilling pride into communities and bringing buildings back into use. HLF projects show that by restoring old buildings to their former glory and bringing them back into use, local people are drawn to using their high streets, local shops and public spaces. This community use encourages investment from businesses and other organisations to regenerate areas and benefit the communities who use them.
Dr Keith Bartlett, HLF regional manager, explains how protecting our past can affect both heritage and people. "The Heritage Lottery Fund protects and preserves the North-East's heritage from Woodhorn Colliery to saving water voles, however what people don't realise is that we're also concerned with how these projects help people right now and in the future.
"This can be by stimulating tourism and creating jobs, or by developing new skills in the community through education schemes attached to heritage. It's amazing how even a small grant can have a huge impact on the people who visit, live nearby or get involved in a project: young people and community groups involved through schools; elderly people who are able to use a once neglected building or public space for a social setting; or families who can enjoy time and activities together in a restored public park."
The £10m HLF award that enabled the refurbishment of Woodhorn Colliery Museum has created a major tourist attraction in the North-East.
Investment in the museum shows how the proud industrial heritage of Northumberland can be a catalyst for regeneration. HLF's grant to Woodhorn preserves the history of the former coalmining communities, but also creates jobs for those same communities that suffered with the decline of industry and closure of the pits. With 10,000 visitors through the museums' doors already since opening, valuable tourist pounds will benefit Northumberland.
Combined with hundreds of already successful HLF projects such Vindolanda and Alnwick Garden, Northumberland's heritage is clearly a major asset in its future.