Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Work to restore ‘historic heart of Gainsborough’ makes progress

Work has begun this year to restore the ‘historic heart of Gainsborough’ thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Last year, West Lindsey District Council was successful in being awarded a £1.25 million grant that will be invested as part of a major project to restore historic buildings and heritage assets in the town centre.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) will improve the standard of repair, maintenance and appearance of properties within the Town Centre Conservation Area of Gainsborough, focussing specifically on Lord Street and the Market Place.

The total investment totals £1.96 million after contributions from West Lindsey District Council as well as third party and volunteer contributions.

Jonathan Lee, Townscape Heritage Officer at West Lindsey District Council will be leading the project and has made progress in making contact with property owners and helping them move forward with renovation work.

He said: “Gainsborough has suffered from under-investment and progressive erosion of historic buildings’, shopfronts’ and architectural features, over many decades. With National Lottery Heritage Fund backing, third party grants are available to owners of 28 properties, enabling significant repair and maintenance, including the redevelopment of empty shops, reinstatement of some historic architectural features and enhanced maintenance to windows of flats and offices above.

“I am passionate about historic buildings and will ensure that repair and reinstatement works in Gainsborough are implemented in accordance with best practice, using appropriate traditional materials, by competent conservation contractors and will then be properly maintained by the owners.”

The project will also include a programme of activities to inform and educate the public about their historic environment. Historic research and interpretation will be undertaken by volunteers from the Gainsborough community, school and college pupils, as well as students from the University of Lincoln, all developing their understanding of heritage, as well as practical heritage skills.

The programme is to enable those who live in, or visit Gainsborough, to appreciate the diversity of heritage, encouraging enthusiasm to preserve it. A fully costed programme of community engagement activities has been created and will be overseen by an Activities Co-ordinator, Theresa Workman.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the people of Gainsborough and helping them understand the renovation work. One of my aims for this project is to be able to build a generation of people who understand the history of the town a bit better and see Gainsborough become a beautiful and attractive heritage destination.”

Theresa has also worked in Gainsborough previously as Community Engagement Officer at Gainsborough Old Hall.

She added: “I am delighted to be able to return to Gainsborough under the umbrella of the Townscape Heritage Initiative to restore the charm and grandeur of its historic heart; and to share its impressive past with the local community and the wider audience who will be inspired to visit.”

Chair of the Leisure, Culture, Events & Tourism Group and Heritage Champion at the Council, Cllr Paul Howitt-Cowan said: “I am delighted that work is progressing on the Townscape Heritage Initiative in Gainsborough. This project will breathe new life into our old buildings and unlock the potential of Gainsborough’s heritage assets.

“The cultural and skills offer within this project will also seek to connect under-represented groups with our town’s unique and often under-appreciated heritage.”

This project has been made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players and is a five-year project expected to complete in September 2024. The project is supported by the Gainsborough Townscape Heritage Partnership with representatives from the Gainsborough Heritage Association, West Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council, Gainsborough Town Council, Gainsborough Place Board, University of Lincoln and the Gainsborough Queen Elizabeth’s High School.

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