Historic England, which protects and champions the nation’s historic environment, has awarded a lifeline of more than £9,000 to the Old Low Light Heritage Centre on North Shields Fish Quay.
The grant, totalling £9,399, will enable the heritage centre – which occupies the oldest surviving building on the Fish Quay – to pay its rent and cover other running costs over the next three months.
The Old Low Light is one of 70 projects, including King Henry V111’s flagship the Mary Rose, to receive grants, from a total package of £1.8m, as part of Historic England’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund. The fund was set up following Historic England’s survey of heritage buildings which revealed the adverse impact of Coronavirus on the sector.
Centre director, Guy Moody, said: “The grant is great news for the Old Low Light Heritage Centre and we are grateful to Historic England for giving us this lifeline. Although we are closed due to the Covid-19 lock-down we still have bills to pay. This grant, along with some other fund raising, means that we are in a much better position to begin early preparations to re-open at least part of the centre as soon as it is safe to do so. Our many volunteers and supporters will be delighted to hear this news.”
The heritage centre, once one of two leading lights guiding ships through the treacherous mouth of the Tyne, was officially opened five years ago after major renovation. It is supported by more than 150 volunteers and has a café, a gallery and community space for use by local groups and usually offers a full programme of walks, talks, events, exhibitions, music sessions and concerts.
The centre is run by a charity called The Net North Shields, whose aims include maintaining an iconic building and keeping it in use so that the local community can enjoy its facilities and regular events as well as supporting people to find out more about the history of North Shields, its Fish Quay and natural environment.
The charity has strong partnerships with local schools, small businesses and community groups. Over the last five years, it has helped many people into paid employment and volunteers have helped organise several exhibitions a year as well as many locally-themed events celebrating history, culture, the arts and the environment.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “Our emergency grants are providing a much-needed safety net to organisations and businesses that are helping to save our most precious heritage such as King Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose in Portsmouth. If they go out of business at this difficult time, some of our heritage will be lost forever. As we move towards recovery, we are pleased to offer grants to innovative projects and craft workers to help get the heritage economy moving. Our historic places bring us together, boost the economy and revitalise local communities. It is vital that they survive intact.”