Dudley Canal visitor centre project secures £1m boost
Bosses at Dudley Canal Trust were today celebrating securing around £1 million of European funding to kick start work on a new visitor and heritage centre.
Work will get under way by summer at the trust, which manages the Dudley canal tunnels and limestone mines, in a bid to attract thousands of visitors each year.
The cash grant has been awarded from the European Regional Development Fund to help finance the building of the £3m centre to be known as the Portal.
The project has already received a £989,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund with further support from the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, Wolfson Foundation, Dudley Canal Trust (Trips) Limited and the Dudley Canal Trust.
Cash will be ploughed into building the centre which will give visitors information about the history and importance of the waterways and mines.
A new canal bridge will also be built to connect the Portal and towpaths with the neighbouring Black Country Living Museum.
The scheme was due to be built in phases but now the full building scheme can get under way thanks to the European cash pot, managed by the Government.
Chairman of Dudley Canal Trust (Trips) Ltd, Jeff Luesley, today said the grant award was 'fantastic news' to herald the start of the building project. He said: "It means we now have funding in place to build both phases of the development in one go."
"If all goes to plan we hope to start building this summer with completion 12 months later."
Communities Minister Baroness Stowell of Beeston MBE added: "These new improvements on the canals and mines take this one stage further to generate a huge benefit to the tourism offer and local economy.
"This will be a major step towards the Dudley Council's Castle Hill project which also includes Dudley Zoological Gardens and the Black Country Living Museum." and enhances links with Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve to create a major tourist venue of national importance."
Around 75,000 people visit the site, off Birmingham New Road at Todds End, Dudley, every year and bosses hope the new attraction will increase this number to more than 90,000 over the next five years.
It comes as a major £10.1m regeneration scheme is under way at Castle Hill to improve links between the canal trunnels, museum and Dudley Zoo.
Land between the museum and the zoo is being transformed with a new car park, link roads and new zoo entrance being created.
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