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Boost for Buttress’s all-new Blackpool Museum plans

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Buttress’s latest plans for a Blackpool Museum look set to go ahead after funding was received for the scheme, almost two years after a previous £26 million proposal was axed

Blackpool Council said the promise of £4 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund meant the ‘dream could become reality’ of creating the long-awaited attraction.

Initial plans for a museum celebrating the Lancashire resort from within the Grade II*-listed Pavilion Theatre and Horseshoe in the Winter Gardens in Church Street were axed in 2017, due to an £8 million funding gap.

But the team behind that failed scheme, including Manchester-based Buttress and exhibition experts Casson Mann, continued to work with the council on alternatives.

Now their latest proposals – to fit the museum into the under-construction seafront Sands Building designed by the Frank Whittle Partnership next to the tower complex – have been backed by the Lottery Fund.

Buttress director Neal Charlton told the AJ that the funding announcement came as a relief after years working on ways to make the museum viable.

‘As a practice we trade on completed projects,’ he said. ‘This is one of our bigger cultural projects, so it is important to get it open to the public.

‘What makes this site work is its position on the seafront close to the tower, giving an incredible footfall. Vacant buildings don’t come up in this area but this one has been stripped back to its frame and extended upwards; it will be a five-star hotel and the museum will go on its first floor.’

Charlton added that the site had required a rethink of the initial plans.

‘Architecturally, we started from scratch for this site. The story Casson Mann wants to tell is the same as it would have been at Winter Gardens, but the detail of how it comes to fruition is different.’

Blackpool Museum will celebrate the development of the seaside town and its place in the history of British popular culture.

Visitors will be able to discover more about Blackpool’s links with dance, comedy, live variety, illumination, circus and sideshows.

The £13 million project had already secured £4 million from the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, £1.75 million from the Coastal Communities Fund, £1.5 million from the local enterprise partnership, £1 million from the council, £400,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and almost £700,000 in other funds.

In partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum London and private owners, it will display, collect, research and celebrate collections of artefacts related to popular entertainment.

Stan Laurel bowler hat

Stan Laurel bowler hat Blackpool Museum

Source: Lorne Campbell/ Guzelian, Blackpool Museum Project

Kerry Vasiliou, learning and engagement manager at the Blackpool Museum Project with Stan Laurel bowler hat signed to Cyril Critchlow in 1947, Blackpool Council Heritage Collection © Blackpool Council

Deputy council leader Gillian Campbell said the latest cash boost was ‘fantastic news’, adding: ’It is the final piece in the jigsaw and now our dreams can become a reality.’

’It has been six years since I first sat down with council officers and discussed the concept of a museum celebrating Blackpool’s rich heritage and its unique place in the nation’s heart. We did not want to just create a display of Blackpool’s history, we aspired to do something completely unique that you would only experience here.

‘Thanks to the effort and expertise of our volunteers and supporters and the commitment of hard-working council officers, we finally have an amazing concept that is financially viable.’

An official launch of plans will take place this autumn. Subject to planning, the museum could open in 2021.

Shutterstock joe dunkley sands building blackpool

Shutterstock joe dunkley sands building blackpool

Source: Shutterstock/Joe Dunckley

The original Sands Building in Blackpool which will be making way for a new museum

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