Celebrations as final funding is secured for Downham Market’s Heritage Centre

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Downham’s old fire station in Priory Road can now be transformed into a heritage centre after the final funding has been secured.

Downham Market and District Heritage Society is over the moon after receiving an additional £60,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The society, which has been working on the £650,000 project for nine years, had received £386,300 last year as well as obtaining other grants.

At the end of March, builders will start to transform the site into the Discover Downham, a heritage and learning centre, which will open in spring next year.

Delighted David Flower, chairman of the Heritage Society Trustees, said: “I have had a fantastic team to work with and the dedication to hard work, professionalism and sheer ‘stick-ability’ has resulted, after so long in the planning, in the birth of a dream.

“This is also just the beginning and I look forward to the day when we can open the doors of the new heritage and learning centre which will provide the facilities to enhance the town in which we live.”

Discover Downham will house the society’s artefacts, documents and photographs along with providing a flexible activity space and a hub for the area.

Volunteers along with a part-time learning officer and administrator will create a schools’ programme, care home reminiscence packages, Town Trail, family orientated themed activities and events with a changing exhibitions programme.

Steven Seals Ltd is the main contractor to complete the work, which is expected to take six months. There will be hard hat days for the public to see work progressing.

Phil Rothwell, Heritage Lottery Fund East of England Committee Member, said: “Lottery players money will allow this old building to become a real hub for the community and will provide a permanent home for the society’s collections and archives, making it easy for visitors to learn all about the heritage of Downham.”

MP Elizabeth Truss will be learning about the plans tonight.