Saturday, 14 February 2009

Broxtowe Borough Council propose plans to close Durban House Heritage Centre in Eastwood

Broxtowe Borough Council have announced plans to slash £60,000 from its budget and are considering plans to close Eastwood's Durban House Heritage Centre which houses exhibitions of the works of D.H Lawrence and also the local area's mining history.

Supporters of the Heritage Centre have claimed the closure of Durban House "would be a loss to the literary world, the mining community and future generations of schoolchildren that visit the centre."

Dr Sean Matthews, on the DH Lawrence Society Board and head of the DH Lawrence Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, said: "There's very little information being made available by Broxtowe Borough Council. These are discussions that seem to be taking place behind closed doors about an amenity that's a public facility.

Leader of the council, Coun Michael Rich, said the budget proposal was only made last week. "I have no doubt that stakeholders including members of the public who currently fund Durban House from council tax will have the opportunity to make representation," he said.

Fred Skillington, a 77-year-old former miner from the town, says he is offended by the plans.

"It's very important because the new generation haven't seen any pits, I grew up with pits all around me, they should be remembered," he said.
"It's part of our background and heritage."

Teaching courses for staff are also held at Durban House. Jane Ratcliffe is assistant head teacher at Greasley Beauvale Primary School where DH Lawrence was once a pupil and later a student teacher.

She said: "We feel it offers a versatile and invaluable educational experience outside the classroom.

"The younger children in year one and two have gone down to Durban House to learn about the Victorians.

"The year sixes hold art exhibitions there and it's a great place.
"I'd be sad to see it go, it's not good for the community – what would it become if it did close down, is it going to be another derelict building?"

The budget plans will be discussed by the council's cabinet on Tuesday, before being finalised by full council in March.

We would suggest if Broxtowe Borough Council needs to cut its costs, instead of targetting the area's history and heritage, which attracts international interest and tourism, I would suggest it starts by cutting its 28 page booklet devoted entirely to the Polish community. A community, which it seems Broxtowe are actively encouraging into the Borough at a time when Britain has 2 million unemployed.

Link to the Polish booklet here

A brief history of Durban House

Durban House itself, which is situated in Eastwood was built in 1896 for the Barber Walker mining company,it was once the wages office of Brinsley Colliery where D.H Lawrence's father worked, this is where the young "Bert Lawrence" would collect his father's pay packet. The house was later turned into a mining officials institute complete with a concert hall, billiard table and library, before being turned into flats, after the flats closed, the house remained derelict for several years.

Durban House has been fully renovated, reopening in 1998, and now contains 'talking' exhibits of the life and times of Lawrence, and also the original court copies of Lawrence's most controversial novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover.

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