Rallying call for Aylsham heritage project

A heritage project in Aylsham has issued a rallying call to local people to help a vision become reality.

A heritage project in Aylsham has issued a rallying call to local people to help a vision become reality.

Bids for a total of �100,000 have gone in to two funding bodies this month to finish restoration work on Aylsham Parish Room and pay for an education officer to launch it as a hi-tech heritage centre.

Now backers are hoping local businesses and charitable organisations will pitch in with money, goods or services to support the project - as well as volunteers to help run it.

The hall will house digital versions of photographs and documents from the town archive, computers with internet access - including links to the Norfolk Record Office.

Visitors, including schoolchildren, will be able to learn about the town, research family history, or set off from the centre on a town trail.

An oral history project will also be based in the centre, allowing young people to learn about the past from the town's older generations.

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The National Trust had also expressed an interest in having a presence in the centre to publicise nearby Blickling Hall said Alan Quinn, church representative on the Aylsham Community Partnership committee which launched the scheme about eight years ago.

He hoped the late-Victorian building, in the churchyard of St Michael's Church - which has previously served as a town library, Sunday School, thrift shop, choir rehearsal room and Scout hut - would also become a popular venue for talks, lectures and to hire.

Grants have enabled �75,000 of work to be done to the hall. This month's applications, to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Biffaward, would pay for the installation of a mezzanine floor with spiral staircase, toilet, and new floor, as well as part-time education officer's salary for two years.

Mr Quinn said there was a lot of support in Aylsham for the project but there were still hurdles to overcome, including the need to obtain listed building consent. Anyone who can help should contact him on Mr Quinn on 01263 733388.