Joy as historic cottage grant bid hits jackpot

Plans to bring a heritage tourist attraction back into use have taken a major step with the granting of £187,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mrs Smith's Cottage, Navenby. EMN-160322-120314001
Mrs Smith's Cottage, Navenby. EMN-160322-120314001

Mrs Smith’s Cottage in Navenby is a preserved example of a simple, early Victorian, Lincolnshire home.

It closed its doors to visitors in late 2012 after a routine structural survey flagged up serious problems with the roof.

Since then, both North Kesteven District Council and the Friends of Mrs Smith’s Cottage volunteers have fought hard to gain funding to bring it back into use.

The district council has now gained the first of a two phase funding application, meaning experts can establish exactly what needs to be done before a second application to pay for the work required. The £187,500 from the HLF will be topped up to £234,409 by NKDC, Friends of Mrs Smith’s Cottage and other funding sources. A previous bid last year had been unsuccessful.

The second phase HLF bid for work to start this time next year is approximately £403,800 with the total needed being around £556,657, adding up to a total project cost of £793,441.

In phase one the roof will be completely removed to establish the extent of the damage and what is required to make the cottage structurally safe once again.

Delighted council leader Marion Brighton said: “Mrs Smith’s cottage offers a unique visitor experience in the heart of Lincolnshire, and anything we can do to allow people to come back and enjoy it is welcomed.”

Chairman of the Friends of Mrs Smith’s Cottage, Malcolm Smith congratulated the NKDC team on the successful bid.

He said: “Engineers had found dry rot but we don’t know the extent yet, so the first stage is to get the roof off this summer then get on with repairing it. Since closing it has had a big impact as we used to get up to 3,500 visitors a year to the village which stimulated the economy and NKDC have recognised this and want to support their heritage attractions. We did a lot of work with local schools as well.”

It is also hoped that the funding will allow the council to revamp the visitor centre with interactive exhibits to enhance the overall experience.

Scaffolding will go up in April/May for the work to be done by an approved heritage contractor. Mr Smith believed the cottage should re-open in 2018.

The museum is named after its last resident who lived there independently until 1995, when she was 102 years old. The building and contents were preserved by residents, including the old range, a single cold water tap, period furniture and ladders to the bedrooms.