Lottery bid seeks to secure historic building
The Cotswolds Conservation Board, the organisation which looks after the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), has submitted a first-round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help secure the future of the grade II* listed Old Prison at Northleach.
The 18th century Old Prison, owned by Cotswold District Council and due to be put up for sale in the next few weeks, houses the new Escape to the Cotswolds discovery centre, opened in 2010, and the unique Lloyd Baker Rural Life Collection. It also houses the Board’s offices, with the Board being a tenant of the District Council.
Through the bid for funding from the HLF, the Board is seeking to realise the building's full potential as a centre and resource for the local community and safeguard access to this wonderful building and landmark on the Fosse Way itself.
The application for a total of £1.3m towards a £1.8m project will, if successful, create a vibrant visitor centre at the heart of the Cotswolds. As well as conserving and improving access to and interpretation of the former Northleach House of Correction and the Lloyd Baker Collection, the new centre will act as a central hub for the Cotswolds AONB helping to deepen understanding and appreciation of the significance of this special landscape through volunteer-led hands-on activities and demonstrations, interactive interpretation and costumed story-telling. The centre will also become a focus for rural skills training, building on the Board's existing rural skills training programme, and will seek to be a showcase for sustainable energy conservation and production within the context of a historic building.
If successful, this first-round application will lead to the Board being invited to submit a detailed second-round application. The first-stage decision is expected in January 2012.
Director of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Martin Lane said: "This is an exciting and ambitious project which we believe will breathe new life into this important historic building as well as secure the future of both the building and the collection for the public. Plus, with the initial success of 'Escape' we have a strong base on which to build a centre for the Cotswolds that local communities and visitors to the area can enjoy."
Further details of the HLF application can be viewed at: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/newsevents/hlf
Notes to editors:
- The ‘Escape to the Cotswolds’ discovery centre is open between April and October, Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Entry is free of charge.
- The Northleach House of Correction is one of four houses of correction built in Gloucestershire in the 1790’s to the design of the then High Sheriff, Sir George Onesiphorus Paul. Paul was the inspiration and driving force behind the reorganisation of Gloucestershire’s prison system, the first such scheme of its kind in the country. Today the keeper’s house, female cells and police station along with the front façade and perimeter wall all survive, as does the court room.
- The Rural Life Collection is a personal collection of agricultural and rural history by Miss Olive Lloyd-Baker who was born in 1902 to a distinguished Gloucestershire family. When she died in 1975 the “Lloyd-Baker Collection” was accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of estate duties and its ownership transferred to Cotswold District Council. Since the 1980’s further additions to the collection were made by generous donations from local people, once it was housed at Northleach. At the heart of the collection are 23 farm wagons and carts, with regional and national significance as locally-distinctive examples.
- The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation with 37 members, 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by Government.
- The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks as our finest countryside and they are recognised as being of national importance.
- The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
- The Cotswolds AONB is the largest of the family of 46 AONBs in the UK. For further details: www.aonb.org.uk