#BarrowsHeritage Grants awarded, projects are go!

Louise Sutherland, Development Manager at Heritage Lottery Fund in the North West, tell us more about the successful projects in Barrow-in-Furness.


We’ve been more successful than we could have imagined with our #BarrowsHeritage microgrants pilot.  Unbelievably so!

We’ve been able to support 20 amazing, local projects led by residents and organisations of Barrow.  So, yes, we spent more than the initial £25,000 pot – in fact we spent £51,000!


Below are a list of projects we funded along with links and images to show their progress it date.  Its super exciting and a real privilege to be a small part of making this happen.

We are planning to have further updates on the HLF website as part of our Online Community pages, the next one is coming up shortly and it will be available here https://www.hlf.org.uk/community

The “Drill Hall” Identity, Dalton Community Association
The Drill Hall, Dalton, will work with local schools and residents to research the different military organisations that have been housed there since its inception.  People will learn about heritage and develop skills by visiting other military museums to research more about groups such as the Territorial Army, Home Guard, The Tufty Club and local Dance Groups.  This will be shared through events, leaflets, Wikipedia page edits, exhibitions/displays in the Hall and social media

The House in the Park, Octopus Collective
This project focuses on the heritage of the Mawson designed Barrow Park, a 45 acre park constructed in 1908 and Grade II listed.  The project will capture Oral Histories within three main themes/areas to create a short film, sharing stories and project progress via social media.  Participants will learn about heritage and learn skills through capturing the OH and the creation of a film.  The project builds on previous events held in the park’s bandstand, where the final events will be held.

Salty YarnsBarrow’s Salty Yarn’s, Octopus Collective
This pilot project aims to explore the maritime heritage of Barrow-in-Furness through site visits, capturing of Oral Histories and events.  Artists will work with local residents and a local historian to undertake community walks and generate content for storytelling sessions. A minimum of nine sessions will be open to local residents to learn about heritage, including visits to the Barrow Archives, OH Collection and Creative Film-making.  The launch event will be at Roa Island Boat Club and project progress shared via the use of a blog.
BBC Countryfile came up to visit this project and hear more generally about work in the area.  Amazing!

Ormsgill Quarry, The Friends of Ormsgill School
Friends of Ormsgill School (FOS) will work with their school children to explore and learn about the heritage of the nearby Quarry which is now an open green space.  Pupils will work with partners to undertake bio-blitz/tree surveys to map the area and share their findings with the local community through the creation of a map and leaflet.  The pupils will visit Barrow Archives, learning research skills and get involved in a final event for local people and their families.  This pilot will be testing local interest for a further project.

Rod The MailThe Stories Behind the Stones: the interesting tales told by gravestones, Barrow-in-Furness Civic and Local History Society
The project will create a free-to-access website focused on the cemetery heritage of Barrow and Dalton Cemeteries, bringing to life the names behind the graves.  Once established, the website will allow users to plan their own walks in the cemeteries and learn more about the heritage and changing nature of gravestones over time.  The website will be advertised though leaflets and talks/tours offered as part of the project.

DiOxCG2WkAARhTtTalking Histories, The Brathay Trust
Young people will collect and record Oral Histories from a wide range of Barrow residents, working with Signal Films to learn about heritage and learn skills through the creation of a film based on these stories.  The project aims to be intergenerational, working with the local BAME communities. The film will be available on both the Trust and Signal Film websites and be used in community cohesion activities after the project ends.  Project outputs will be launched at an event organised by the young people.

Exploring the Heritage of Barrow-in-Furness, Barrow-in-Furness Civic and Local History Society
The Barrow Civic and Local History Society will install six plaques on buildings with local heritage importance.  The Society will work with the local council to secure permissions and maintain the plaques. A printed trail will be created and a launch event will involve local press and radio.  The trail will be showcased at Heritage Open Days and feature on the Society website.  Through the plaques, trail and events, people will learn more about the built environment and there is the potential to engage a wider range of people in the stories of Barrow.

Drop Zone Exhibition“OUT in Furness” Drop Zone Youth Project
Working with local Friends and Supporters of Furness LGBT Community with training from Signal Film, young people who identify as LGBT will collect Oral Histories and learn new digital and exhibition skills.  The participants will learn more about local social history and LGBT legislation through these Oral Histories and attendance at the UR Potential YouthFest.  These Oral Histories will form the basis of an exhibition and will tour several local venues challenging perceptions and stereotypes.

Askam Station 3Garden Project, Friends of Askam Station
Working with 2 local schools, the Friends of Askam Station will create new interpretation and display areas to bring to life the heritage of the area, both industrial and natural, and its relationship with the station.  The school children will take part in sessions at the station to learn more about its Industrial Past.  Alongside researched information panels a new seating area will be installed so that visitors can take in the views of the natural landscape from the station.

Barrow’s Shipyard Women of WW2
Building on an existing website, the project will capture more oral histories and stories to bring to life the hidden histories of the women who worked in Barrow Shipyards during World War Two.  These will be added to the existing website, made freely accessible and supplemented with a touring exhibition and information leaflet where people can learn more about the heritage.

Barrow Bellringing Heritage and Public Engagement and Access, PCC of St James’ Bellringing Fund
Building on a previously successful HLF project, these activities will add value and increase access to the heritage of St James Church and its Bells.  The handrail will allow greater physical access to the bells for heritage visitors and professional bellringers.  The updated leaflets, photobooks, plaques and open days will improve the offer to visitors and the new simulator will enable both bellringers and the visiting public to learn about heritage and learn new skills.  There is also a strong link with Armistice Centenary Ringing in 2018 raising the profile of the project further
There has been some great press stories for this project, both on the BBC Website and in the local paper, The Mail.
This project even got mentioned on an episode of Have I Got News For You!

Around the Bandstand, Friends of Artspace
This project will focus on the Bandstand in Barrow Park, a site for events and activities for over 110 years.  Using a mix of Oral History collection, archival research and collection of related ephemera, local groups, schools and organisations will work with Artspace to produce and learn about the social heritage of the Bandstand.  The project will launch with a film screening of a film about the Bandstand made in 1960 which will be followed up with sessions in Barrow Library.

Mill Lane Loaf, Art Gene
Local school children will learn more about the rich local agricultural heritage of Walney Island through practical hands on experience of growing/working with wheat, milling and making bread.  They will also work with archaeologists, historians, artists and volunteers on the current Allotment Soup project to bring the heritage to life.  They will undertake a visit to HLF Supported Heron Corn Mill.  Once inspired they will respond creatively to this heritage and prepare for a public open day to share what they have learnt and this will also be available via the ArtGene website.

AgeUk LaundryMemories of Lakeland Laundry, Age UK Barrow and District
AgeUK will work with existing and new volunteers to learn more about the heritage of their current offices in Lakeland House, which was previously a laundry.  Volunteers will research and collect information from the local archives and record Oral Histories from people who remember and worked in the laundry to create permanent display boards and short films.  Some material has already be brought into AgeUK and demonstrates demand and interest in this area of local heritage.  Everything will be shared online and be fully accessible to any visitors to the building.

Folk Art IndustryFolk Art from Local Industry, Furness Creatives
This project will collect and share the stories and objects relating to Barrows hidden Folk Art.  Local workers used their skills secretly to create toys, models and object d’art in the workshops and sheds of local industry.  Following a local call out the project will catalogue these objects, capture oral histories and memories, create an exhibition and produce a DVD.  People will learn about heritage and volunteers will be trained and learn skills. All project work will be available on a website developed and updated by the volunteers.

Sharing Engineering History, Furness Education and Skills Partnership (FESP)
This project will bring together retired Shipyard Engineers and local school children to learn about what it was like to work in the local industry.  The children will then take part in cross-curricular activities to embed this learning.  People from the local area who have retired from Barrow’s Industry will support and contribute to a series of workshops and pupils learning will be showcased at the annual Furness Skills Event held in Barrow and through local media channels.

Baz-I Time Travellers, Barrow Island Community Primary School
Working with the wider school community, Barrow Island Primary pupils will collect stories, information and images of the school to create a permanent heritage and history area in the school grounds.  The school and community will work with a local artist, and the children will speak to previous pupils and local businesses to record and learn from their school life memories to weave into the artwork.  The school will host a launch event and create an exhibition to share all the information collected through the project.

The Barrow Beat, Art Gene
Local Artist Matt Hassell will work with students from Furness College to make a short film about the Music Scene in Barrow.  The project group will speak to and record histories from local people who were either in a local band or part of the gig going culture at the time.  It will also seek to capture the music scene of Barrow today and look at how things have changed since the 1960s.  The film will be launched at an event, shared online and the project will be showcased in local media.

The heritage importance of stained glass windows for Churches, St Mary’s RC Church, Barrow
A member of the Church community will be trained up to undertake stained glass window repair, learning heritage skills, so that the windows at St Mary’s can be restored, celebrated and their heritage explored.  Pupils from the local school will visit the Church and work with an artist to learn more about the stained glass windows in the Church of Our Lady’s and create their own window as part of the project.

Speaking Up – Women, Politics and Public Discourse in Dalton 1933-39, Dalton Creatives
Dalton Creatives will explore the heritage of Women’s history through the creation of a radio play.  Inspiration will come from a scrapbook in their possession containing a wide range of cuttings covering many aspects of public life for women, for instance record of a local public speaking group Lonsdale Women’s Unionist Association.  Volunteers will be recruited to learn skills and undertake research on subjects within the scrapbook and digitise it.  The completed radio play will be broadcast on CanDo.FM and all project research and outputs will be available online.





#Barrowsheritage: Where it all began

If you are wondering what triggered the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to pilot giving out micro grants gain some insight here. Read about the interesting work into heritage and communities from Esme Ward, Head of Learning and Engagement at the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester.

esme promenade copy.jpg
Esme Ward


A wonderful aspect of the Clore Leadership programme is their placement scheme in which a Fellow gets to experience working within a different cultural organisation. Last year HLF’s Strategy and Business Development team were pleased to have Esme Ward conduct her placement with them. During this time she undertook an inquiry to explore how HLF might change their funding approach to support communities to catalyse new heritage activity.

Esme, spent her time speaking to people and creating case studies from a range of sectors including people from Barrow-in-Furness who are leading change within the community. The findings have been fascinating and HLF have quickly acted upon them through implementing the micro grants pilot in Barrow.

The Story of Us: Key findings

The report entitled Story of us: Heritage and Communities was published last week. It seeks to identify strategic opportunities and new approaches to enable the HLF to engage with communities and their heritage as widely as possible.

The report showed how crucial heritage is to communities. She describes heritage as “the story of us” and explains how it builds communities sense of identity. This came through strongly in Barrow-in-Furness:

“In Barrow in Furness, all the community-based organisations I met spoke about how important a sense of heritage and identity was for their clients and the town and how engaging with heritage could encourage care, kindness, compassion and love” (Ward, 2018).

Three distinct themes emerged from the inquiry and Esme put forward three propositions for what HLF might do differently. These included:

  1. Be more relational: The report highlights the importance of HLF building relationships in order to be more inclusive.
  2. Focus on the local: Esme argues that that now is the time for new and ambitious thinking at HLF about ‘localism’ and place-based funding
  3. Find and support powerhouse people: “Powerhouse people”, are those who are leading change within communities and Esme explores how HLF might seek out and support these individuals more effectively.

What happened next?

Esme’s conversations around how HLF can be more relational showed that micro-grants could be a useful way forward and that small amounts of money can make a big difference to communities. Micro grants has been a topic that HLF have regularly discussed but with the evidence Esme presented we decided to take forward this proposition straight away and pilot micro-grants. Grants of £200 to £3,000 are being offered to support community projects investigating Barrow’s heritage.

Barrow-in-Furness was an obvious choice for the pilot not only because it was part of Esme’s research but it is also a priority development area for HLF. However, more than this it is rich in intangible, built and natural heritage. This was recognised in the 2016 RSA and HLF Heritage Index which ranked Barrow-in-Furness 6th (out of 325 local authority areas) for heritage assets. Therefore, it was clear there were significant opportunities which exist to support communities to catalyse their heritage. Already 13 awards have been made under the micro grants pilot!

Read the report

The Story of Us: Heritage and Communities seeks not only has benefited and influenced HLF but it has also contributed to the wider institutional and sector-facing conversation about the role, value and future of heritage within communities.

To find out more about the work and what those in Barrow-in-Furness told Esme read the full report which can be found here.

#BarrowsHeritage Conversations

Alice Kershaw shares the latest from #BarrowsHeritage.     

On Friday 15th and Saturday 16th December we were back in Barrow-in-Furness on the West Coast of Cumbria in a wonderful church; the fabulous St Peter the Great, a very welcoming space which was kept open after a phenomenal rally of support by the local community, including Brenda, who attended our session and helped us with the enormous and essential teapot. After our sessions we got the fantastic experience of seeing and hearing, and feeling, the HLF supported bells being run from above.


We had a huge variety of project types and heritage areas presented. These included (deep breath)…Age UK project that examined the history of their building as an old laundry, a Barrow school looking at oral histories of previous pupils still in the area (we discovered that she had begun filling in the form on her mobile phone during our last presentation as we were going through the slides on how to do so!), a Viking sculpture, a stained glass project, bell ringing, sound recordings, bandstand history and Industrial folk art.

The word that kept coming up for me over the days was ‘conversations’; these were very much two way discussions, we are learning what works and people got quick and helpful feedback. There was some interesting discussions about what the forms were for and how we could improve them that I will take forward into proposals for the next iterations of the forms at all levels. Those who were intimidated as they work in jobs where they don’t fill in this type of application (teachers for example) said they found it much easier with people helping, some submitted their forms on the day after 30 mins as they were able to ask questions as they went along, for projects that had in some cases been in their minds for years.

People said they liked the supportive environment of the workshops and meetings and the fact we are learning and all working together, and as at the last events we found loads of synergy, for example two people that came to the session and realised projects about women in the shipbuilding industry are linked, one in WW2 and one later and relating to living memory. The amount of consideration going into projects was clearly significant and so far around 14 projects have come in, on a number of the themes mentioned above, covering all areas of heritage.

Some potential applicants said before the event they felt like an Application Form is about ‘saying the right things and not saying the wrong things’, Louise gave the good advice of ‘don’t overthink it’. Some found the form daunting as ‘it’s so black and white and formal’ and that the suggested word counts were ‘too high’ and that they felt they had to fill in that many words even if they didn’t need to. There were some other specific things we can look at, such as the fact we ask twice about whether an organisation is a partnership. Overall another great and inspiring event with some fantastic projects and learning coming through.


#Barrowsheritage launches

Heritage Lottery Fund’s Alice Kershaw shares her first thoughts on the small grants pilot launch at Art Gene in Barrow-in-Furness.

On Friday 10th and Saturday 11th November the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) team (and our Evaluators Wingspan) went to Barrow in Furness, on the west coast of Cumbria, to launch our new micro grants pilot in the area. Do check out the Twitter hashtag #barrowsheritage for some of the pictures of the day!

IMG_7099   IMG_7129

We had some good press and Louise, from our Development team, had been promoting it on BBC Cumbria on the Friday morning. We based ourselves in the HLF funded Nan Tait centre, home to local creative organisation Art Gene. Its a lovely Victorian building converted to community and art use. We used the Friday to present what we were doing and to work with those we knew in the area, for example the local authorities and CVS, local Councilors and those who could help us support applicants. Some of them may also have considered applying themselves. We got around twenty people in total from a range of organisations who knew us and spent time setting out what we wanted to do with the pilot and explaining how to apply to us if they were doing it themselves.

Barrrow press

The real meat of the weekend came on the Saturday, where we were at Art Gene from 11 until 4, presenting in the morning on the pilot and how to apply and then taking face to face meetings in the afternoon to support applicants applying in any way they wanted. We had around 30 people drop in, about half of which had a specific project in mind and others with many projects they were considering. Louise and I held face to face meetings with around twelve people in total, two of which had enough information to actually allow us to make an award in principle.


This is truly a pilot and there are some interesting points about our process I have picked up on:

  • Those attending felt they had a need for smaller grants and a faster process, some had had project ideas for years and didn’t know how to test them out and take them forward. Some had felt the online nature of the form and the perceived effort of filling it in was a barrier.
  • They were excited to share projects and appreciated the fact we were trialing this with them. There was clearly enormous value for people in being able to discuss their project and have someone ‘demystify’ the process for them. Being able to explain a project then seeing how it fitted into the form helped to make the process less daunting.
  • Representatives from the Coastal team working in the area were also there and were keen to look at other projects they could tie into their action plan, giving a real potential legacy to some of the ideas.
  • I also learned our form spellcheck doesn’t recognise the name ‘Barrow-in-Furness’!
  • From when Louise started talking to the chap to when she had enough info to make a decision in principle was 27 minutes.
  • Our interest in the area chimed with others (the National Park and the Brathay Trust were just starting to look at engaging with people from Barrow).
  • This kind of grant giving helps other people meet each other and also ensure we don’t just fund, for example, the first project about say quarries but joins them up!

I’m looking forward to seeing how the pilot progress at the next event on Friday December 15th and Saturday December 16th.  

First thoughts on #BarrowsHeritage

Louise Sutherland, Development Manager for Heritage Lottery Fund in the North West, tells us more about her involvement in #BarrowsHeritage

On a windy Friday morning I bounded across a car park in Barrow-in-Furness to meet Neil from BBC Radio Cumbria to announce the launch of our new smaller grants.  The Microgrants are open to groups and communities within Barrow Borough who want to explore their heritage and the heritage of their area.  Having spent the last few months thinking about this, now we were actually going to do it.

Louise and Neil from the BBC before going live across Cumbria
Louise with Neil from BBC Cumbria

Barrow-in-Furness is one of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Priority Areas; this means that to date it has received a lower than average amount of HLF funding and we’d been working pro-actively in the area, spending time with local groups and organisations, to support and help develop ideas that could form the basis of a HLF application.  We’d met many groups who felt that the online part of the process was a bit daunting or that a minimum grant of £3,000 felt too big to start with.

The idea of smaller grants, under our usual minimum threshold of £3,000, certainly isn’t new.  But it is not something we’d explored through HLF funding.  The chance to bring this to Barrow-in-Furness, one of the areas we’ve worked in for a while, was too good an opportunity to pass up.  Following discussing with our Head of Region and other colleagues, and with business cases and processes being written, approval was granted and the planning began in earnest.

BBC Radio Cumbria Car
BBC Radio Cumbria’s excellent set of wheels

Conversations internally started with what bits of the process were essential and required for our auditing and reporting processes, and which bits we might be able to adapt or remove, to simplify the overall process for those applying.  We also decided that as some groups were telling us they struggled with the online form that we’d offer to work alongside applicants, helping them to fill in the form if required, and provide further guidance on how to do it from the comfort of their own computer and office.

We worked closely with colleagues in communications and stakeholders such as Cumbria CVS to think about the best way to share messaging about the events and the grants programme.  Drawing up a plan for communications, we created online news stories (you can see one here) and a postcard that we could hand out to groups and organisations we met so that they could follow up with us.  We spoke to 16-17 Clore Fellow Esme Ward about her ideas to reach out far and wide as she’d undertaken some research as part of her fellowship in the Barrow area and she was generous with her insights and ideas.   You can visit Esme’s blog here. We drew up a long list to share this information with, create some online Eventbrite pages and sent the messages out there.  That was quite nerve-wracking – would people sign up, or would I be speaking to myself in a meeting of one?!

We decided to have two information sessions – the first aimed at our stakeholders and previous HLF grantees to share the information.  This was followed on the Saturday by the actual launch day and where groups could start applying for funding there and then!  But I’ll leave how that went for a further blog.

Sunrise over Barrow
A beautiful sunrise in Barrow