Posts Tagged ‘HLF’

IN PROFILE: Norton Priory’s Sustainable Redevelopment

Thursday, May 5th, 2016



As you approach Runcorn’s Norton Priory site, tucked behind a modern industrial estate, there is very little clue of this 12th century monastery site’s historical significance.  Currently undergoing significant redevelopment as part of a HLF funded capital project ‘Monastery to Museum 900’, the priory is due to reopen its doors this coming August showcasing a fully redeveloped museum and newly conserved undercroft.

As the most excavated medieval monastic site in Europe, Norton Priory boasts some of the most incredible stories and objects which will be displayed more fully than was previously possible in new innovative first floor viewing gallery which will help visitors better understand the ruins while also carefully preserving the grade 1 listed 12th century undercroft to properly demonstrate the sites national historical significance.

Although visitors are obviously an important focus of Norton Priory’s ‘Monastery to Museum 900’ development project, one of the aims of the £4.5m redevelopment is also to help with the Priory’s future sustainability.  Engaging larger audiences will be integral to this, with visitors to the museum anticipated to increase by 60%, greater audiences will of course increase admission and secondary spend income.  In consultation with local teachers, the project will also double the size of the learning suite to provide facilities for larger school groups helping to deal with the rising costs in transport and further pressures on their pupils time in school.

Central to all of the decisions made during the project’s development was the need for flexibility, particularly for providing means to offer event, wedding and conference facilities. The learning suite will not only double in size, it will also have a moveable partition allowing for the space to seat 100 people theatre style. In one of the new exhibition spaces, an area has been opened to provide an activity space designed to demonstrate traditional skills, linked to the Priory’s traditional skills programme which provides another source of income.

Although Norton Priory’s redevelopment project concentrates greatly on visitors experience, there are also significant development taking place behind the scenes.  In recent years, the Priory has developed significant research partnerships with the Universities of Liverpool, Lancaster, Leicester, Liverpool John Moores, Nottingham, Birmingham and Sheffield. These partnerships have not only helped to better understand the Priory’s collections, but they have also provided financial opportunities.  Frank Hargrave, Norton Priory’s Director explained:

“We have found that [our partnerships with Universities] has increased our profile with the media and many of the research areas have attracted significant funding not limited specifically to research time but to outputs such as exhibitions, matchfunding for the capital project and even for core costs and new revenues streams.”

Given the continuous squeezing of local government budgets, it feels important to note that Norton Priory’s redevelopment will not only demonstrate the historical significance of this important monastery site, it will also put in place a solid structure for in-house income generation to help secure the museum’s future.

NEWS: Heritage Lottery Fund Launches Online Community Forum

Friday, October 9th, 2015


Funding can often feel like a mine field to anyone looking to apply to big grant giving organisations for the first time, but in a move to demystify their process, the Heritage Lottery Fund have launched a supportive online community forum. Following a successful pilot project earlier this year, HLF’s forum has become a space where anyone looking to connect with other organisations currently working on HLF funded projects can go to ask relevant questions about their own applications, sound out future project ideas or just engage in relevant sector debate and discussion.

By joining the community you and your organisation will be able to access numerous discussion forums including those linked to specific targeted programmes such as Landscape Partnerships, Parks for People and Young Roots; you’ll even be able to download useful content which has been shared within the community forum by other members.

To find out more about what HLF’s motivations were for establishing the community and what they hope it will achieve, I caught up with Amy Freeborn, the Online Communities Manager.

Emma Sumner:  What were your motivations for developing the online community?

Amy Freeborn:  “We wanted to create a friendly and informal platform for people to share expertise and experience, and ask and answer questions related to HLF-supported projects, regardless of physical location. The Online Community allows people to seek official guidance without having to call us up, and get first-hand project tips and advice from other grantees without having to be in the same room together.”

ES:  Who do you anticipate will use the community and who would you like to encourage to use it?

AF:  “The Online Community is for anyone interested in, currently applying for, or who has received, HLF funding, and those working in heritage and other relevant sectors. The Online Community operated in a pilot phase for around 18 months, open to those who had received funding in six selected grant programmes. In August we launched a general discussions area which is open to everyone, and the interest and engagement has been great so far. We still have some way to go to make it as vibrant and valuable as it can be, but we’re definitely getting there: the more people that use it, the more useful it will be for everyone.”

ES:  Do you think this community will help a wider range of organisations to access HLF funding?

AF:  “I think so, yes. Because not only can they sound out their idea (in principle) before making an application, but they can network with others who have been awarded funding for and are already running similar projects. By joining the Community they can get first hand advice on what has and hasn’t worked, and therefore be in a better position to submit a successful application, and then deliver a successful project.”

ES:  Do you have any further plans to develop the community portal in the future and if so what would you like to add/change?

AF:  “There are a few minor technical things on my ‘would be nice to do’ list, such as a search function so people can easily find threads from others in their region and/or grant programme, but our main priority right now is increasing user numbers and engagement.”

ES:  Ultimately, what would you like to see the community achieve?

AF:  “The ultimate aim is that it becomes the exceptional resource we know it can be, full of lively discussions about all aspects of developing and delivering fantastic heritage projects.”

An inclusive, safe space, the HLF Community will undoubtedly continue to develop itself as a valuable forum for the discussion and sharing of knowledge related to the work that HLF, their grantees and partners deliver.  So if you’re interested in sounding out a future project’s potential for HLF funding, all you need to do is register yourself, log on to the forum and join in the debate.

Emma Sumner, News Editor

To join HLF’s online community; Click Here

Or for further information on how the community forum can help you and your organisation contact Amy Freeborn –