The Uttoxeter Heritage Trust, the charity which runs Redfern’s Cottage, have submitted their bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund following months of hard work by the Trustees, Project Manager Laura Wigg-Bailey and many of the volunteers from the museum.

‘This submission was very much dependant on the goodwill of the town council as they own the building and there are plans to build an extension and make more of the building accessible for disabled people.’ Said Laura Wigg-Bailey

Owing to the need for complete transparency between the Uttoxeter Heritage Trust who will be managing the budget and the Town Council who own the building the two organisation have agreed to become partners for the duration of the project, with two town councillors, James Russell and Andrew Riley becoming trustees of the Uttoxeter Heritage Trust throughout the project.
Another key undertaking on the part of the council is to extend the lease and the current peppercorn rent (shortly due for review) for a further ten years which will provide a secure future for the trust to continue to run Redfern’s Cottage, Museum of Uttoxeter Life from the 400 year old building on Carter Street.

‘I believe this shows a major step forward in the town council’s aim to improve the lives of the people of Uttoxeter by supporting culture and leisure activities embodied within the museum as well as protecting the town’s heritage for future generations. We are hugely grateful for that.’ Said David Parkes Chairman of the UHT.

Town Councillor James Russell and representatives of the trustees of Redfern’s Cottage have worked on this bid for the last year and said “It is very exciting to be involved so closely in a project which will demonstrate the advantages to our Town of collaborative working between our council and other locally led organisations such as the Uttoxeter Heritage Trust. This project demonstrates both a direct employment opportunity in the town centre and a clear path to improving Uttoxeter’s presence as a tourist destination. The benefits to the town therefore are far in excess of the refurbishment and development of such an iconic building in the heart of Uttoxeter. Carter Street has undergone significant improvement through the last year with the White Hart Hotel and the newly arrived Jazz café adding to the excellent existing shops to be a real draw to our town centre. This project at Redferns Cottage is another excellent example of Uttoxeter becoming a better and better place to live.”

Over the past 12 months the consultants appointed to the project – Walker Cunnington Architects, Laura Wigg-Bailey Heritage Interpretation and Projects and Moggs Communication Ltd have worked together with trustees and the project steering group to produce all the supporting information and plans which needed to accompany a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The key plans included a Conservation Management Plan which describes the whole building and those adjoining it as well as ways to conserve and protect it, an Activity Plan which describes everything that will happen throughout the project including events, volunteer training, archaeological excavations and improvements to the collection storage, an Interpretation and Learning strategy which describes all the new displays and the schools programme, and a marketing strategy which describes how the museum will promote itself during and beyond the end of the project. All these documents will soon be available online via the museum website

The project will recruit three new members of staff as well as many other professionals such as architects, building contractors, conservators, specialists in digitization and collections care, and designers. Following all the development of plans the final bill for the whole project is £705k and much of this money will be channelled directly into the local economy.

‘We strongly believe that this project will help Uttoxeter towards being a great tourist destination. There is a real feeling of regeneration in the town right now. This project, along with the newly refurbished and relaunched White Hart Hotel, the new Jazz Café, the new leisure centre and other retail developments proposed, show that Uttoxeter is a fabulous town with so much more to offer and we need to stop doing it down and shouting about the great things that are starting to happen. Maybe it isn’t what it used to be but we need to start making it into something people will be proud of in the future’ said museum and project volunteer Pam McNamee.

The Uttoxeter Heritage Trust will know if their bid has been successful by the end of March and following exchange of paperwork should be able to announce the result by the end of April 2015.