'Immediate' future of Creswell Crags secured by National Lottery lifeline
The immediate future of ‘internationally significant’ Derbyshire heritage site Creswell Crags has been secured thanks to an emergency cash lifeline.
A National Lottery grant of £250,000 has been announced to help the limestone gorge and caves recover from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.
Bosses at the site, which has a history dating back at least 60,000 years, feared the Crags could be closed for good earlier in the lockdown because of the squeeze on its income stream.
Now they have welcomed news of the emergency grant for the site – one of only three in the UK to receive the maximum pay out from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Paul Baker, executive director of Creswell Heritage Trust, said he was ‘delighted, relieved, and very grateful’ to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this emergency funding, which will hopefully mean the site can reopen in August.
He said: “Through lockdown, we’ve only had a core team of four staff working, and we’ll now be able to look at bringing key colleagues out of furlough to help us get ready to welcome back visitors.
“This is not an end to our challenges, as we will reopen towards the end of summer and will have missed many of our most profitable months.
“We face the prospect of having to change our programme to work within social distancing measures, the loss of regular income from school visits, and reduced capacity in our café, shop, and museum.”
The site is home to the only Ice Age cave art in the UK, archaeological evidence of early humans, mammoths, hyenas and other prehistoric animals, and the largest collection of early modern ‘Witch Marks’ in Britain.
“We will be working hard to plan a more sustainable future for this internationally important heritage site, asking for continuing public support and understanding, and looking out for further funding opportunities,” Mr Baker said.
“We can, however, breathe a small sigh of relief after a very difficult time of uncertainty, thanks to everyone who takes part in the National Lottery.”