Renowned Historian throwing weight behind project at former Betteshanger Colliery
Distinguished historian, author and TV personality David Starkey has become the first Patron of the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation (KMHF). The Foundation is helping build the Kent Mining Museum, a Green Energy Centre and upgrade the leisure and recreation facilities at the old Betteshanger Colliery site, as part of the Betteshanger Project.
The Foundation is working closely with Betteshanger Park, Hadlow Group, Aylesham and Elvington & Eythorne Heritage Centres to support the Betteshanger Project which is based in Deal.
The unique and ambitious project is already in its first phase, and includes a new £9.5m Visitor Centre, encompassing the Kent Mining Museum and Green Energy Centre. It will provide retail, cycling facilities, education, conferencing, events, gardens and public spaces. It will also act as an iconic gateway to the 250-acre country park. These elements will bring together the Project’s three unique appeals; heritage, sustainability, and health and wellbeing.
David Starkey said: “This is an important project, both for Kent and particularly for the area south of Canterbury, embracing Dover, Deal and Thanet. Historically, the story of the growth of the Kent Coalfield, once coal had been discovered accidentally when they were trying to dig a tunnel linking Britain to France, will be told in the first Kent Mining Museum.”
Betteshanger Park would not exist had it not been for the extraordinary history of Betteshanger Colliery which shaped the unique landscape that is enjoyed by many today. During 100 years of mining, the Kent Coalfield (Betteshanger, Chislet, Tilmanstone and Snowdown) was at the heart of the East Kent community, employing over 150,000 men that extracted over one hundred million tonnes of coal.
Dr Starkey continued: “It is a unique story, because nowhere else, I believe, were tens of thousands of miners recruited and gathered together in an agricultural county which had absolutely no tradition of mining. Their integration with, and isolation from, the predominantly agricultural community is fascinating. Secondly financially, the contribution this Project will make to what is one of the most disadvantaged communities in Europe, is absolutely vital and deserves everyone’s support.”
The KMHF recently celebrated reaching a momentous £1million of funding towards the development and support of the Betteshanger Project, a significant step in its goal of £1.8million. It has raised a significant amount towards its fundraising target though corporate sponsorship, grants from trusts and foundations, and individual donations. Recent supporters of the campaign that have helped the Foundation break the £1m mark, include the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Rochester Bridge Trust and the Roger de Haan Charitable Trust, amongst others. When complete, the project will inject £6.2m every year into the local economy.
Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Chair, Kent Mining Heritage Foundation, said: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Starkey on board as our first Patron of the Foundation. To get someone, who is so passionate in his field but also so recognisable in the historical world is a huge boost for the work that the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation does. Following on from the news that we broke the £1m mark in our fundraising, it is a really exciting time for us and the Betteshanger Project.”
About The Kent Mining Heritage Foundation
The Kent Mining Heritage Foundation (KMHF) is a registered charity (charity no. 1165403) working in partnership with Betteshanger Park, Hadlow Group, Aylesham and Elvington & Eythorne Heritage Centres to collect, care and promote East Kent’s coal mining heritage.
The Foundation aims to:
- Advance public education of Kent’s mining heritage and sustainable energy technologies
- Provide facilities that promote health and social welfare, especially for those who suffer due to age, disability, financial hardship or social disadvantage
- Empower communities to improve their lives through the provision of education, skill-sharing and leisure activities
Specifically for Betteshanger, the project aims are to:
- Establish a Museum that records and displays the century-long history of coal mining in East Kent
- Transform the former Colliery into a centre for sustainable energy
- Improve the sport and leisure activities on the 250-acre site
Supporters to date include:
Trusts & Foundations: Garfield Weston Foundation; Coalfields Regeneration Trust; Crown Charitable Trust; Foyle Foundation; Gerry Pack Charitable Trust; John Swire 1989 CT; Postcode Local Trust; East Kent Leader Programme; R G Hills Charitable Trust; Rochester Bridge Trust; Roger De Haan Charitable Trust; Association of Independent Museums; Aylesham & District Community Workshop; Big Lottery Fund; Brachers Charity; Chapman Charitable Trust; Cornwallis Charitable Trust; Cllr Mike Eddy; Edna Rosemarie Linnell Charitable Trust; Sir Charles Jessel Charitable Trust, J F Charitable Fund; KCC Travel Grant; Lord and Lady Northbourne (Betteshanger Charity); Port of Dover Community Fund; Royal St. George’s Community Endowment Fund.
Corporates: Apex Cleaning; Clagues Architects; George Hammond PLC; Independent Insurance Services; Jenner Contractors Ltd; Ovendens; Quinn Estates; Star Cargo PLC; Thomas & Partners; W Laslett & Sons; McIntyre Hudson; Woodley Coles
And over £100k from private supporters.