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Burley Village Heritage Trust seeking £1-million for new museum

A HERITAGE trust is seeking £1m to fund the construction of a new museum on the Forest.

Burley Village Heritage Trust recently hosted an exhibition at which villagers brought along artefacts, including toys made at Burley’s old toy factory and paperwork related to the sale of the old manor.

Trust chair Graham Tucker said the exhibit was an opportunity to publicise the group’s work while it seeks funding to build a two-storey heritage centre in a paddock in the grounds of Park Lodge on Ringwood Road.

As reported by the A&T, New Forest NPA granted permission for the development in September 2018. The proposal included two affordable homes to be funded by the authority from a developers’ contributions fund.

Mr Tucker said: “We still have that permission from 2018 for two houses and a heritage centre.

“The NPA has been at the museum site to do exploratory footing work for the building, which covers the period since permission was granted and gives us some leeway before starting the project.

“It would be nice if someone came forward with the full amount.

Burley Village Heritage Trust chairman Graham Tucker
Burley Village Heritage Trust chairman Graham Tucker

“The last costing for the museum was £850,000, but we would also need internal fittings and display cabinets as well, so we would be looking at a £1m project in order to get everything up and running to a high standard.”

He added: “I thought we were going to be able to get a Lottery grant, but I have been reliably informed the Lottery is no longer giving grants for newbuild museums and heritage centres.

“They would only provide funding if the museum is already built and that’s thrown a spanner in the works. I’m still trying to talk to them to see if they will change their minds but it doesn’t look likely.”

Burley Village Heritage Trust exhibition
Burley Village Heritage Trust exhibition

Mr Tucker said the recent exhibition by the trust featured around 500 postcards of the area dating back to 1903, plus artefacts from the village fire station and an exhibit on “Burley witch” Sybil Leek.

He said: “It was a very enjoyable weekend and very well supported, with people bringing along items for identification.

“Someone brought along an advert from 1894 relating to the sale of the Burley manor, as well as a map of the site.

An artist's impression of how the centre would look
An artist's impression of how the centre would look

“We also had a toy of a little man climbing down a ladder that was made at the old Burley toy factory.”

Mr Tucker said the factory, which was taken over by the government for its production capabilities in WWII, made a name for itself by producing “exploding” or collapsible toy buildings.

The heritage trust has a copy of a toy factory catalogue featuring the “exploding” toys but Mr Tucker said it has not been able to acquire one for its collection yet.

Ladder toy from Burley's old toy factory which was brought to Burley Village Heritage Trust's exhibition
Ladder toy from Burley's old toy factory which was brought to Burley Village Heritage Trust's exhibition

He added: “This exhibit brought back many memories to those who came to see it.

“One visitor, who lived in the village as a child and whose father was responsible for bringing gas to the village, recalled a Christmas when US troops put on a party for the local children.

“It’s important we build a centre to help preserve not only artefacts from the village but also people’s memories of them.”

To help the trust with its collections or funding, contact Graham Tucker by calling 01425 403495 or emailing burleylivinghistory21@gmail.com

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