Mid Pennine Arts reveals a major new heritage and cultural project for Rossendale. The Lancashire arts charity has received a confirmed grant (£246,500) from the Heritage Lottery Fund for Spodden Valley Revealed, it has been announced. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project will create a trail of discovery exploring the long and unique history of human settlement in the area around Whitworth.
The many stories Spodden Valley Revealed will explore include stone age hunting sites and the relics left behind, 19th century hero James ‘Treacle’ Sanderson running close to the 4-minute mile 90 years before Roger Bannister, and the Whitworth Doctors – 18th century ‘bone setters’ attracting patients from all over the UK like the Archbishop of Canterbury with curious and strange treatments.
Spodden Valley Revealed will be made up of a ‘string of pearls’ of eleven historic sites. Visitors will discover these through signposting from a central cycling and walking route, new interpretation and public art, and a programme of community events. The project will add rich historic content to Lancashire County Council’s ongoing strategic programme of cycleways for East Lancashire. Creating Spodden Valley Revealed over two years will involve an entire community. Activities and learning will engage schools, volunteers and residents of all ages. The project will offer skills training for volunteers and boost employability for young people.
MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the National Lottery has recognised the huge potential of this project. Many local partners, led by Whitworth Town Council, have helped shape these ideas, and we can’t wait to get back to work with them all. Making it all happen will be a two-year adventure for hundreds of people. What it puts in place can be a real community asset for many years to come.”
For Whitworth Town Council, the Mayor, Councillor Alan Neal, said: “We are really excited to be involved with Spodden Valley Revealed in Whitworth and can’t wait to get all the local schools and groups involved in creating something which will benefit the whole community. It will be a great asset for promoting tourism in Whitworth and will provide valuable new leisure facilities for local people.”
Nathan Lee, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, Spodden Valley Revealed will quite literally create a pathway to the area’s incredible but often unknown heritage. Volunteering opportunities and community events will enable people of all ages to get involved in revealing the stories and historical treasures of where they live and we look forward to seeing the benefits this investment will bring to Spodden Valley.”
Councillor Andy MacNae, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Leisure and Tourism for Rossendale Borough Council, said: “This is brilliant news for Rossendale. Spodden Valley Revealed will shine a light on some precious and overlooked heritage, and at the same time will reinforce the Council’s long term vision for the Valley of Stone Greenway and for promoting the borough as a destination for outdoor recreation.”
County Councillor Keith Iddon, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "This project is an exciting new initiative which will encourage people to get out and about and explore Whitworth and the surrounding areas, making use of the East Lancashire Cycleway network which we are currently developing. LCC contribution to the cycleway has been used as match funding to unlock this further investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will add significantly to the cycleway and help to make it an attraction of interest to both local people and visitors to the area. The project will be a great way of encouraging healthy life styles as well as developing Whitworth as a visitor destination."
MPA are also delighted to announce support for Spodden Valley Revealed from the Lancashire Environmental Fund3 and from charity Newground Together4. Their awards of £25,000 and £35,000 respectively will make possible specific aspects of the programme of access enhancements and environmental improvements, and have been important also in helping to secure the funding from HLF. The project will also receive support from Lancashire County Council, Whitworth Town Council and other contributors.
The overall project, including a year of development and consultation work now complete, will generate £445,886 of investment into the communities around Whitworth.