Published: 12:59, 30 April 2021
| Updated: 13:09, 30 April 2021
A museum dedicated to Kent's mining heritage can now be completed after money troubles and then Coronavirus led to delays.
The Kent Mining Museum was due to open in March 2019 at a country park in Deal built on one of the county's former colleries.
Now, thanks to a £1.2m grant from National Lottery Heritage Fund (HLF), the project's wheels are about to start turning again at Betteshanger Park.
The Kent Mining Heritage Foundation is at the helm and has revealed there will be a new mining-themed play area and arts-focused heritage trail across the 250 acre park which was built on the site of the old spoil tip.
The museum will be based at the park's new visitor centre building, still awaiting completion, and will tell the story of coal in Kent.
From its hopeful beginnings of how the fuel source was discovered in the county, it will re-tell the story of the mass migration of miners and the unique communities they created; the impact of coal mining; the struggles of miners and the industry's demise.
The collection includes photographic records, oral and written personal stories and memories, formal records and documents, small and large-scale artefacts. Alongside the museum there will be an exciting education programme providing schools visits with a wide range of fun and interesting topics in line with the curriculum.
Work on the museum originally began while under the ownership of Hadlow College as part of the wider £40m Betteshanger Sustainable Parks development.
But work was suspended 85% through when the college went into financial administration in February 2019.
The park is now owned by Betteshanger Country Park Ltd, after it was bought in December 2019 by Betteshanger Property Ltd, a joint venture between Quinn Estates and Land Cap, with the intention to support and enhance the country park into the future.
A statement from the owners said: "Building work for the project will re-commence soon with an expected opening in Spring 2022."
Stuart Elgar, chairman of the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation Trust, said: “This is outstanding for the museum, for the foundation and for the park.
"The grant will enable us to finish the work that we have started and start sharing the wonderful stories from Kent’s mining communities with the world.”
Once open, the museum will deliver a comprehensive learning programme with strong curriculum links and a range of workshops, projects and experiences to appeal to learners of all ages whilst also catering to different learning and teaching strategies.
The new bid was secured in addition to £500,000 already spent on the build from a previous HLF award granted to previous site owners Hadlow College in 2016.
This totals £1.7 in funding from HLF.
Betteshanger Country Park is open daily from 8am to 5.30pm, and visitors to can enjoy a wide range of activities tailored to all ages, including cycle hire available including child carrying attachments - walking and running trails, archery, geocaching, exploration of nature and wildlife, and fossil hunting. For more information, please visit betteshanger-park.co.uk