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Police museum has future designs on the past

But lottery funding is key to keeping project on track

A glimpse of the future from a £1 million police project rooted in the past have been revealed.

Designs for how a new treasure trove of memorabilia could look were published today.

But the cash-strapped West Midlands force is still having to gamble on obtaining cash from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to progress its plans to house its vast heritage collection in a permanent museum.

It has been forced to turn to lottery funding and running charity events to keep plans on track to relocate the artefacts of yesteryear from Sparkbrook in an ambitious relaunch at the Steelhouse Lane Lock-up in central Birmingham.

Interim funding has allowed Heritage interpretation consultants Campbell and Co to design how the building will operate as a museum of policing for the public – with the hope of a full national grant award by the lottery project at a later date.

The lock-up, built in 1892, is even rumoured to be home to paranormal activity, with members of the Peaky Blinders gang supposedly haunting the old tunnel leading to the courts.

The displays will tell stories of prisoners and staff, including the real Peaky Blinders gang who were incarcerated in the building and how the original ‘Lock-Up matrons’ from 1895 formed some of the very first ‘women in policing.’

It’s not all history however, there will also be space for the latest police messages and the museum team will use engagement opportunities to discuss current themes.

The plan forms a crucial part of the second round of the funding bid, which if successful, will then help make the plans for the building a reality.

The bid will be submitted in August with results due in November.

Inspector Steve Rice, who works on the WMP Heritage Project, said: “The designs show how the Lock-Up will be transformed.

“It is exciting to see how the museum might work and the designers have set aside plenty of space for us to host school parties, groups and maybe even a themed wedding”

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson added: “The museum will help us reach out to communities and show how the force has developed and changed over the years.

“A self-sustaining police museum will be a really worthwhile addition to the whole region, which is why I am supporting the project’s fundraising drive.”

Surveys have identified that significant work is required on the roof, which wasn’t factored into the original funding bid, leaving a funding shortfall of at least £150,000 which could threaten the success of the project.

In order to give a new lease of life to the 1891-built lock-up, which housed criminal suspects for more than a century and a quarter, the force’s estate bosses admit they have no alternative but to get out the begging bowl to raise enough money in match funding for a heritage lottery bid.

A large proportion of the proposed project’s costs involves walling up the entrances of the Steelhouse Lane building and disentangling all of the interlinked electric, gas, water and fire alarm system’s networks and pipes.

The lock-up has to be detached from the old Steelhouse Lane police station which will built 40 years later.

The force estimates it will cost £500,000 alone to simply separate the buildings with much of the rest of the costs going on disability access and new stairwells as well as display cabinets to showcase all of the museum exhibits.

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