Plans for new heritage centre take step forward

12 July 2018

A 25-year dream to create a heritage centre in Northamptonshire has taken a step forward with the completion of a planning application to Northampton Borough Council.

Dr Steven Hollowell is among a group of friends who, with help from Daventry-based architects the Roger Coy Partnership, have submitted plans for the centre which will be constructed on a dismantled railway embankment set within four acres of land with a river frontage.

Drainage experts have been appointed to complete a planning application for the first phase which will lead to the creation of an eco-friendly visitor centre near to the village of Cogenhoe.

Dr Hollowell said funding to build the centre has so far been secured through a number of grants, car boot sales, vintage jumbles and steam rallies.

He said: “It has taken over 25 years and has been held up by extra requirements from the Lead Flood Authority (NCC). However, Northampton Borough Council has been very patient and supportive of our application for full planning permission so now that we have professionals working on our submission, we feel that we have reached a major milestone.

“We spent many years finding a suitable site and since we bought this field about ten years ago, we have been busy raising the necessary funds.

“Our complete collection of artefacts is vast and we haven’t yet chosen which items to display. The very earliest artefacts comprise a small but important collection of Neolithic flint tools and arrowheads.

“Later artefacts include domestic cooking and household paraphernalia from the 17th through to the 20th centuries.

“Military memorabilia includes items from the Battles of Waterloo, the Somme, Paschendaele and elsewhere – some having direct connections with Northamptonshire.

“There is a large collection of agricultural tools and implements – many made and used in Northamptonshire including early ploughs from the Northamptonshire family firms of Balls of Rothwell and E. & H. Roberts of Deanshanger. There are also a number of tractors including the earliest in the collection which dates from 1925 and two later ones from the Second World War period. 

“Home entertainment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is represented by a small collection of phonographs, gramophones and early hand-built radios. Of these, many came from Northamptonshire homes and of the latter, several were built locally and include the first radio heard in Cogenhoe and a crystal set also built in the village.

“It is envisaged that when complete, the visitor centre will mainly be used for education purposes – for both adults and children. One of the main objectives is to make the Visitor Centre a ‘green’ building replacing mains electricity with a combination of solar panels and heat source pumps. As well as the Centre itself, it is hoped that in the future some of the land could be used to graze rare breed farm animals.”

Ian Bramble, principal architect at the Roger Coy Partnership in Lime Avenue, Eydon, said, “The full planning application had been submitted some time ago but the extra data was required by the County Council. We are about to submit that information and so can expect a decision soon.

“We have been working on this project for a couple of years and it has been really interesting.

“Steven had already achieved outline planning permission and we were engaged to submit a full planning application. The visitor centre will be a great additional resource for the county and providing that the planning decision is favourable, it could take less than a year to build this first phase.”