There was double the cause for celebration at the official reopening of Buxton’s Pump Room this week, with the news that a £30,000 grant has been secured to help deliver a new cultural programme for the town.
The funding from Arts Council England was revealed on Monday as more than 80 guests attended a ceremony to mark the formal relaunch of the visitor centre and the restored well which is contained inside.
James Berresford, Chair of the Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, said the grant awarded to the trust would enable it to deliver an artistic programme of events to celebrate Buxton’s water.
Alison Foote, from Arts Council England, explained: “We want to help create an available space for the community and it is great to see how involved the town already is with the Pump Room and The Crescent.
“We want to engage people who have never been in the Pump Room before, but also keep the people who have been in before engaged through a series of new events.”
Creative cultural projects will include musical performances on the Pump Room roof, sound walks, a light illumination project, artist workshops and events, and a specially commissioned play in partnership with Buxton Opera House.
Mr Berresford said: “The Pump Room has been open for a while now but we wanted to make sure everything was running smoothly before we announced the opening officially, and I am delighted at the support it has already received.
“For a while people thought this project would never get off the ground but the Pump Room and Visitor’s Centre is now open not just for tourists but for local residents to come and be proud of where they are from.
“Seeing the support this venture has had is giving me confidence about how positive the opening of The Crescent will be and how both of these wonderful heritage buildings are assets to be proud of.”
Jim Harker, representing The National Lottery Heritage Fund which has pledged £23m to finance the two restoration projects, said: “We are really, really pleased with the developments in Buxton.
“For us we look at heritage buildings at risk - which this development certainly was - and natural heritage, and as the aim is to champion the town’s wonderful water supply this meets both of our criteria.
“When we look at bid applications we try and look for winners and The Pump Room and Crescent certainly has proved its weight going forward for the future and we are excited to be part of this wonderful project.”
Henry Curry built the Grade II-listed Pump Room for the 7th Duke of Devonshire in 1894 due to overcrowding at the previous well in the Natural Baths.
To celebrate the Pump Room’s history a bust of the seventh Duke was unveiled at the re-opening by the granddaughters of a previous well woman, Mary Elizabeth Simpson, who had helped people to take the waters before and after the First World War.
Sisters Jill Grice and Bridget Marshall were both honoured to be involved. Bridget said: “It feels like everything has come full circle, from when Nan worked here to now being part of the reopening which will allow future generations to take in the town’s wonderful waters.”
The family connection came to light after Jill signed the book in the new Buxton and the High Peak Visitors Centre, which is operated by the trust on behalf of High Peak Borough Council and incorporates the tourist Information centre following its closure in the Pavilion Gardens.
At the launch, Mr Berresford thanked those supporters who have backed the project, including the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Derbyshire County Council, High Peak Borough Council and D2N2.
He added: “Our shared aspirations for this beautiful building are now here for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
The Pump Room, which is free to enter during the day, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 9.30am to 4.30pm, as well as on Mondays during Derbyshire school holidays.
An events programme will be running throughout the year with the space available to hire in the evenings.