Published: 06:02, 11 September 2021
| Updated: 09:03, 13 September 2021
A manager has been appointed to lead the opening of the new Kent Mining Museum.
The centre, at Betteshanger Country Park, Deal, could open next spring.
Madylene Beardmore takes on the role and her duties will include developing curatorial, educational and learning content.
The Kent Mining Museum will be within a new visitor centre alongside a learning space, café and conference centre.
It will tell the story of the industry and the community of workers in Kent.
There will also be a Museum Heritage Trail, coal mining themed play area, a programme of learning activities and online collections database.
Stuart Elgar, chairman of Kent Mining Heritage Foundation, said: “We are delighted to welcome Madylene on board as we approach the realisation, at last, of our long-held dream of opening the Kent Mining Museum.
“There is an incredible story to tell about the lives of those who worked Kent’s coal mines for generations and the legacy that remains. We look forward, with the expert guidance that Madylene will bring to sharing that story with the world.”
Ms Beardmore, 30, said: “I feel incredibly proud to be taking this project forward. It’s something that’s been long hoped for and desired among the community.
" There’s been a lot of hard work already to get to this stage. I feel a great sense of pride and responsibility in taking that forward and completing it."
Ms Beardmore is originally from Bedfordshire and moved to Canterbury in 2009 to study for a history degree. On graduating in 2012 she became collections assistant at Canterbury Cathedral. Three years later she joined the Kent Mining Project as community curator, also completing a distance learning master’s degree in museum studies at the University of Leicester.
In 2017 Ms Beardmore became manager at Sandwich Museum and returned to the Kent Mining Project team this July.
Construction of the museum will finish at the end of September with an internal fit out starting at the beginning of November. It is not expected to open to the public until the spring.
The project has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage fund, with additional support from Kent developer Quinn Estates, owner of Betteshanger Country Park.
Coal was discovered in East Kent in 1890 and by 1912 four East Kent Collieries were established.
They closed in 1969, 1986, 1987 and 1989 respectively.
Betteshanger Country Park was established in 2007 when the former coal mining spoil heap was transformed into a public space.
The 250-acre site has been slowly transformed since then to become a centre for events, outdoor sports and adventure activities. It currently attracts around 72,000 visitors per year.