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Town takes care of new heritage centre's £5,000 running costs

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The building is a disused station master's house
The building is a disused station master's house

THE £5,000 running costs of New Milton’s upcoming new heritage centre will be stumped up by the town council.

Amenities committee members agreed the sum should be added to its budget for 2020/21 and possibly beyond to support No.1 New Milton – so called to reflect the fact its venue, a disused railway station master’s house (pictured below), was the town’s first building in 1886.

Deputy mayor Cllr Keith Craze, who spearheaded the project which tells the history of Milton Parish, told a recent meeting it was still on course to open around May next year. It is being carried out in collaboration with the Milton Heritage Society.

Including interior and exterior refurbishments, it is costing nearly £60,000, none of which is coming out of taxpayers’ pockets.

Funding is instead coming from local companies and New Milton Residents’ Association, as well as the community infrastructure levy, South Western Railway and councillors.

However, Cllr Craze said a rundown had now been received of the annual costings for services including water, gas and electricity. Running to a total of £4,830, the list also included maintenance, security and insurance costs.

Members agreed with amenities chairman Cllr Geoff Blunden’s proposal that £5,000 covering the annual running costs be added to the proposals for the committee’s 2020/21 budget. These proposals were later passed on for consideration by the finance and general purposes committee.

“Hopefully, in the fullness of time, these running costs will be covered by sponsorship,” Cllr Blunden said.

Town mayor Cllr Alvin Reid said: “The £5,000 for No. 1 New Milton is vital as this is going to be a major tourist attraction in New Milton.”

As reported in the A&T, New Forest District Council approval was recently gained to change the use of the station master’s house – which has lain empty for about 10 years – from a dwelling to a heritage centre/museum.

The town council has signed a 12-year lease for the building (pictured below) from South Western Railway on a peppercorn rent.

The free-to-enter attraction will include displays of exhibits in each room of the ground floor, with a learning centre in a large room upstairs for schools and youth groups. This will also feature further heritage displays.

With the provision of disabled access to the first floor not possible, cameras are set to be employed to feed footage of exhibits to monitors downstairs so less mobile visitors do not miss out.

In addition to the centre, the old café on the station’s Bournemouth-bound side will be returned to its former use as a passenger waiting room, complete with an information hub.

Volunteers to run the centre are being sought, along with memories and memorabilia, with those. Those able to help out should contact the heritage society’s chairman Nick Saunders – email nick@miltonheritagesociety.co.uk or call 01425 618549.

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