Three councillors from Conservative-led West Lindsey District Council have contributed a total of £1,000, from their Councillor Initiative Fund allowances, towards the £4,500 cost of installing central heating for the Gainsborough and District Heritage Association, which aims to help preserve Gainsborough’s heritage and history.
The volunteer-run charity moved into the Old Post Office, in North Street, in 2008 and since then it has been restoring the building into a museum and heritage centre. They hope to display the thousands of original photographs, documents and artefacts dating back more than two centuries that had previously spent many years in storage.
Gainsborough North's Conservative Councillor Gillian Bardsley contributed £500 towards the project, while Gainsborough East's Liberal Democrat Councillor Mick Tinker and Scotter's Conservative Councillor William Parry each gave £250. The councillors used the West Lindsey Councillor Initiative Fund, which is available to all 37 district councillors. They are allocated £4,000 each to spend over two years on projects in their ward.
Susan Edlington, Chairman of the Association, said:
“The central heating will be used in the research room so people coming to look through all the files will be nice and warm. It will also be used in the exhibition room when it gets a bit chilly.
“It’s made a considerable amount of difference to us because it makes the room usable when it gets into winter, so it’s great. It’s been a tremendous benefit to us.
“You can imagine the building hasn’t had any money spent on it for a considerable number of years.”
The Association now hopes to begin saving up to £20,000 in order to install a lift that will make the first floor accessible. Mrs Edlington continued:
“We’ve nearly completed all the outside work so it looks an awful lot better. We feel we’re an asset to Gainsborough now. Without a shadow of a doubt we’re part of David Cameron’s big society.”
The centre is run by about 15 volunteers, including history and archaeology students. Since opening earlier this year, the museum has welcomed visitors from as far as America, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. Councillor Bardsley said:
“The volunteers are working extremely hard to produce a tourist attraction and a valuable archive for the community and for Gainsborough and I think it’s well worth supporting.
“They’ve had to wait for several years to have premises to display a lot of their material and in these days people expect to have central heating. I think if people are going in there to study archives there needs to be some sort of heating. It also helps to protect the books.”
Councillor Parry is a nominated vice-president of the Association. He said:
“As a long time Gainsborough resident and having been born in the town I’ve had a long term interest in the area’s heritage, even in its previous location in what is now Marshall’s Yard.
“It’s not just the town; it also covers the district around Gainsborough.
“Certainly what has done with the refurbishment is to a very good standard.”
Councillor Tinker added the centre was a valuable asset for the community:
“They do sterling work for the community and they’re hard working people and volunteers that do it for nothing.
“It’s a deserving cause and they’re turning that centre into a local tourist attraction as well as something for the town.”
The centre is open from 9am to 3pm every Saturday and from 11am until 4pm on the second and fourth Sundays of every month.