Some of us might have spent the drier parts of the bank holiday weekend out walking. Some of us may be lucky enough during this soggy beginning to half term to do the same. So it is welcome that woodland and forest, which we often take for granted, is the recipient of some £1.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable the restoration of PAWS – Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites. This approach is not one where the money is spent on buying up woodland so that we protect it. That is expensive. No, the idea behind PAWS is to fund and persuade landowners to save ancient woodlands that they already own. In this way the money goes further and this funding will be spread across all of our countries.
This latest announcement by the Heritage Lottery Fund of grants is quite unusual because the five recipients are a widespread collection representing our past. In addition to support for ancient woodlands, there is money for a pier, an early timber building and textile mills.
Piers, almost like trains, seem to have a fascination for the Brits and strong people can get quite misty-eyed when talking about them. Colwyn Bay in north Wales has a pier going back 116 years which is 750 feet long. It needs restoration and £5 million has been committed to achieve this.
From one industrial landscape to another, Filton, bordering the M4 near Bristol where there are so many links to our aviation history. At Filton there are two WW1 aircraft hangers, it was an important base during WWII and, of course, it was the home of the Concorde. It receives £4.4 million to provide for a learning centre so that school children, visitors and enthusiasts can properly appreciate this site which played such a role in our twentieth century history.
Going back further in time is Headstone Manor in Middlesex. Although there has been human habitation on the site for over 1,100 years, it was a manor house once owned by Henry VIII that is the object of a £3.6 million grant. This earliest known timber framed building in Middlesex will become the new home for Harrow’s collection of objects. Part of that collection includes objects from Kodak and Whitefriars glass which both operated in the area. How they will look in a Tudor building constructed hundreds of years before either company came about will be intriguing to see when the conversion finally is complete.