Critical time for Downham Market Heritage Centre project

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There is a critical time ahead for the project to create a heritage centre in Downham.

The town’s Heritage Society has been working tirelessly on the £646,000 scheme to transform the former fire station into a heritage and learning centre.

The project has received £386,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) along with £71,656 from WREN.

But hopes for two large grants did not come to fruition so the society is facing a £62,000 shortfall. With building work to start in April, the society ideally needs to have the money by March.

Trustee Christine Austin said: “Although it is a critical time we are very hopeful that things will come together. It is looking very positive.”

Builders have submitted tenders for the scheme, which will see the former domestic quarters and fire station being knocked into one multi-purpose room to host displays, workshops and other community uses. The centre could be open in 2016 if all goes to plan.

The society is continuing to submit grant applications and is also holding talks with the HLF on the best way forward with the scheme.

The society had set itself the target of raising £12,000 to go towards the costs of the project and that has now been reached.

Mrs Austin said: “It was a tremendous achievement by the people of Downham and shows the generosity, support and enthusiasm of the local community.”

Fundraising will continue with a concert by the Marham Military Wives Choir tomorrow in Downham Town Hall; tickets cost £10 from Lewks.

The next table top sale in the old fire station will be held on Sunday, December 7.