Lifeline Grant for Birthplace House

Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House in Wisbech has received a financial boost from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help fund ongoing building maintenance and repairs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lifeline grants from the Culture Recovery Fund are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected during the months ahead.

A Guildford based firm of building surveyors with expertise in architectural conservation, Hutton and Rostron, has received a grant of £24,600 from the Heritage Stimulus Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund to carry out work on the western side of the listed building where Wisbech’s most famous daughter was born.

Grants of up to £25,000 are being allocated to cherished heritage sites, such as the Birthplace House museum, across the country to cover urgently needed maintenance and repairs. This vital funding comes from a part of the Culture Recovery Fund called the Heritage Stimulus Fund and is administered on behalf of the government by Historic England (#HereForCulture).

As well as rescuing precious heritage buildings in need, the injection of cash will protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors working in the sector.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities. We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it’s there for future generations to enjoy.”

Mr Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, said:  “Thanks to the grant, Cambridgeshire Highways has already redirected the external downpipe carrying all the waste water from the roof.   It is now decanting into a purpose-dug drain, making sure it can no longer damage the building or be a hazard to Wisbech people.

“This has enabled work to upgrade the appearance of one of the town’s rare grade 2* listed buildings, subject to conservation approval.   The grant will enable continuing maintenance and repairs, and ensure the reopening of the museum at 7 South Brink that celebrates the unique legacy of the Wisbech-born social reformer and co-founder of the National Trust.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive said: “Historic places across the country are being supported by the Government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19.

“It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”