Plans for heritage centre at the Old Fire Station in Downham Market move a step closer
A �450,000 heritage centre for the heart of the Fens has moved a step closer with the announcement that the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed 'initial support' for the plan.
Lottery chiefs have a �37,000 grant for Downham Market and District Heritage Society to proceed with plans to convert the town's former Fire Station.
Members hope to turn the building into a focal point for the rich heritage of Downham and its surrounding area.
They will now prepare a bid for a full grant to cover the rest of the cost of the project early next year.
The building is a widely recognised landmark within and beyond Downham Market. Converted from a row of workers' cottages in 1938, it served as an auxiliary fire station until decommissioning in 2006. Conversion will provide space for exhibition and display telling the story of the town and the people who have shaped it.
It will signpost residents and visitors to heritage sites and collections in the local area, also offering a flexible learning and meeting area which will be available to community groups.
Dave Flower, chairman of the heritage society's project committee, said: 'We're delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the importance of this project to Downham Market and the surrounding area.
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'The support of local schools, groups and individuals in getting this far has been tremendous, and we would love the whole community to work with us and our professional team during the development phase.'
Project manager Andrew Davies said: 'There are a number of ways people can become involved, they can become members, they can get involved in the heritage of Downham Market.
'It's not just about objects in dusty cabinets, it's about memories, it's about families, it's about how the town's evolved.'
Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: 'We are delighted to support Downham Market and District Heritage Society with this award of a first round pass, enabling them to develop their application further.
'This is an exciting idea and the conversion of the fire station would provide a permanent home for the collections and archives, whilst also acting as a community hub, providing a flexible low-cost space for use by local groups and clubs.'