Snibston museum fears after funding bid shelved

Snibston Discovery Museum (picture: English Heritage)
Image caption Parts of the museum site's original colliery buildings have been listed as At Risk by English Heritage

The future of one of Leicestershire's main museums has been questioned after an application for funding was shelved.

Snibston Discovery Museum, which is based at a former colliery, showcases the area's industrial heritage.

But the withdrawal of a £4m Heritage Lottery Fund bid has prompted fears within the museum community that the centre could be in danger.

The county council said the funding came with strings attached and Snibston was part of a wider review of museums.

The award-winning museum is the most visited in the county, but some of the buildings were included on English Heritage's most recent At Risk register.

The funding bid had been for a £5m project called Mining Lives, which would have improved the condition of the colliery buildings and increased public access to the site.

Training opportunities

Mark Taylor, from the Museums Association, said: "I just hope they have thought this through and they have left room to change their minds.

"Because it seems to me that when you are going to get £5m to improve your flagship museum it breaks your heart if you have to send that back, especially if the real reason is that you want to close that museum."

The council, which needs to save to save £95m, said a review of the county's museums was taking place but there were no plans to close the centre.

A Heritage Lottery Fund statement said: "As well as providing support to address the extensive repair needs of the scheduled ancient monument, the project would have created much-needed training opportunities for local people.

"The decision not to take this project forward is therefore very disappointing."

Savings demand

It added: "Our concern now is that the colliery buildings remain at risk, and we look forward to hearing from Leicestershire County Council what plans it has for the future of Snibston and the Scheduled Ancient Monument."

The county council's deputy leader, Nick Rushton, said accepting the money would bind them to conditions which meant they would be unable to properly review ways of saving money on site.

"I just dare not take this £4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund at this moment in time," he said.

"I have a big review ongoing at the moment of all arts, libraries and museums. I have to guarantee to protect vulnerable adults, children and elderly persons and I have to save £95m."

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