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New green community hub to be created in Penzance, including never-seen natural heritage archive

  • Gardeners’ House awarded a grant of £2.2million thanks to National Lottery players

  • The project will create a home for an important historic archive about Cornwall’s natural heritage

  • A disused old stable building in Morrab Gardens will be transformed to create a community hub for activities and events. A sensory garden will link Pengarth Day Centre and The Gardeners’ House

  • Funding has been announced today as part of over £24 million in new heritage grants across the UK, as the Heritage Fund set out ground breaking 10 year strategy

The Gardeners’ House, a charity based in Penzance, are celebrating today after receiving £2.2 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to create a home for a unique archive of documents, books and illustrations.

The ‘living archive’ collection will be made accessible to the public for the first time and highlights the history of Cornwall's natural heritage. It will be housed in a new green educational hub in Penzance’s historic Morrab Gardens, transforming a disused building for the community and creating a sensory garden.

Donated by the Hypatia Trust, the ‘living archive’ showcases the achievements and stories from the last 200 years of the men and women connected to West Cornwall’s natural heritage. Its new home will mean that the important collection is safeguarded and preserved in Penzance so that the community, researchers and visitors can learn and be inspired by it.

The hope is that it will continue to grow and include items that reflect the thoughts, feelings and experiences of people in the community today, particularly in response to the natural world and the climate emergency.

Miki Ashton, Project Coordinator for The Gardeners’ House said “It’s been an amazing journey so far and we are absolutely delighted that the funding from the Heritage Fund will enable us to save a historic building and transform it into a sustainable green hub. It will bring our community and partner organisations together to share in the natural heritage of West Cornwall.

“The Gardeners’ House will provide a home for a knowledge bank which draws on the past and encourages the people of West Cornwall to add new, positive and personal contributions to make it a living archive. By connecting people, planet and place the Gardeners' House will support people's wellbeing and empower our community to work together to develop sustainable change for the future.”

As part of the project, a programme of events and activities will take place, many of which have been inspired by the archive. Through these activities people will be able to learn about Cornwall’s heritage, improve their wellbeing and take positive action to reduce their environmental impact, becoming 'citizen scientists' to create roots-up solutions to climate challenges.

An inclusive volunteering and training programme will also be established. Local groups will help to bring this to life, including Sustainable Penzance and Cornish young people's charity 'Earth's Green Guardians', the Sensory Trust and the clients of Pengarth Day Centre.

Welcoming news of the award Rich Stever of Earth’s Green Guardians said: “The Gardeners’ House will provide the ideal setting for Earth’s Green Guardians. Instead of us going from school to school, local schools can walk or take coaches to this central location with a classroom and gardens. The planet needs us to connect, protect, restore and prepare. The Gardeners' House is the perfect place for us to empower our youth for the future.”

The project will include a community art project led by artists Jane Darke and Andrew Tebbs. Taking place while the renovation of the building is happening, they will work with the community to create designs inspired by illustrations and objects from the archive.

Local craftspeople will then be commissioned to recreate these designs in stone, metal and wood that will feature in the Sensory Garden. This Sensory Garden, made possible by generous funding from the Tanner Phoenix Trust, will be created between the Gardeners’ House and Pengarth Day Centre. It will give a tranquil safe space where people can reconnect with nature and hopes to enhance the lives of older people, particularly those living with dementia.

Sharon Mitchell, the manager of Pengarth Day Centre, said: “We want to create a space that is accessible to all with no regard to levels of ability. The project would encourage multi-generational activity and working with the Gardeners’ House would extend the activities that we could offer the older people in our community, with indoor and outdoor activities available to all. Pengarth has been providing support to the elderly in our community for over 50 years and working with the Gardeners’ House team has opened our eyes to possibilities that we would never have been able to provide on our own such as working with other age groups, providing workshops and outside activities.”

The project will be delivered in partnership with a range of local environmental, health and wellbeing organisations, including the Penzance Town Deal which has also contributed £886,000 towards the project.

Stuart McLeod, Director England - London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to support The Gardeners’ House and help it transform this disused building to create a place where the local community can engage with the environment and natural heritage of Cornwall. It’s fantastic that so many organisations have come together to make this a reality – it really is a community effort. Investing in heritage such as this makes our communities better places to live, creating opportunities, supporting local economies and making heritage more accessible to others. Thanks to National Lottery players, this historic archive will be protected and allow the next generation to learn the importance of the environment around them.”

This announcement comes as over £24 million of Heritage Fund grants have been announced today across the UK, stretching from Penzance to John O’Groats. This comes as The National Lottery Heritage Fund launches their new 10-year strategy, Heritage 2033, aiming to invest £3.6 billion in heritage with a focus on place-based investment, partnerships and sustainability.


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