HEXHAM'S historic jail will benefit from its share of a bumper £238,000 funding to help the landmark beat Covid-19.

Museums Northumberland, which comprises Hexham Old Gaol as well as Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum and Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, received £238,100 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help the charity address the impact of coronavirus and support the recovery of its venues.

All four museums closed to the public on March 23 and only Woodhorn has reopened.

The funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will be used to support the financial recovery of Museums Northumberland, which has lost 80 per cent of its income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding will allow Museums Northumberland to look at new, innovative ways for people to interact with its collections, as well deliver additional staff training and onsite changes to ensure all four museums continue to be Covid-safe.

Rowan Brown, its chief executive, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on Museums Northumberland and it’s been terribly sad to see our venues closed for such a long period of time. It was a fantastic feeling to welcome visitors back to Woodhorn Museum when we reopened the doors on September 2.

"Thanks to the National Lottery and its players we can now begin our recovery process and introduce new creative and digital-led routes that allow more people to engage with Museums Northumberland and our work.

"As well as using the funds to ensure all our sites are safe places to visit, we’ll also be developing new digital programmes so those that can’t visit us in person can still enjoy learning about Northumberland's proud heritage in a new and innovative way.”

“The arts, culture and heritage sectors are some of the hardest hit by the economic impact of COVID-19. The support Museums Northumberland has received from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will help us protect our wonderful buildings, our collections, and ensure we can continue to share Northumberland’s unique stories with even more people than before.”

The funding, made possible by National Lottery players, was awarded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund. £50million was made available to provide emergency funding for those most in need across the heritage sector.

The UK-wide fund aimed to address both immediate emergency actions and help organisations to start thinking about recovery.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as Museums Northumberland during this uncertain time.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, including heritage of local and national importance. By playing The National Lottery, people up and down the country are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of COVID-19 on local communities across the UK.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund is now closed for applications. To find out more about how The National Heritage Emergency Fund is supporting the sector at this time please visit: https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/responding-coronavirus-covid-19.

To find out more about the National Lottery Good Causes, visit: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response

To find out more about Museums Northumberland, visit www.museumsnorthumberland.org.uk.