The University of Nottingham has offered more than £100,000 to help ensure the future of the DH Lawrence visitors’ centre.
The University is hoping to work with Broxtowe Borough Council in a long-term partnership to safeguard Durban House and end the uncertainty over its future.
Durban House — a heritage centre in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire — attracts visitors from all over the world who want to discover more about one of the 20th century’s most famous writers, in his own home town. But its future has been in doubt for the last three years due to issues over funding.
As part of the proposal, the centre would be used to support the University’s outreach activities with local schools, to raise aspirations and increase access to university. Other joint opportunities include summer schools, creative writing links, short courses, lectures, events and exhibitions drawing on the University’s nationally designated DH Lawrence Collection and related archives.
DH Lawrence (1885-1930) is The University of Nottingham’s most famous literary son, studying at the then University College Nottingham more than a century ago. The University’s collection of original Lawrence manuscripts, first editions, letters, photographs, paintings, biographical writings and other materials — some dating back to Lawrence’s time as a student from 1906 to 1908 — is one of the most extensive in the world.
Representatives from the University and the Council are due to meet at Durban House, Eastwood, at 1.30pm on Tuesday March 22nd, where details of the proposed partnership will be formally handed over. Councillors will then discuss and vote on the proposal in due course.
Professor Karen Cox, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Access and Community Relations, said: “We hope this will be the start of a long and fruitful partnership between the University and Broxtowe Borough Council. We are pleased to be able to support Durban House in this way and see numerous opportunities to share University resources and work with the local community in a mutually beneficial way.”
Under the proposal, the University will provide funding of £105,000 over the next two years to help pay for the centre’s running costs. Day-to-day running of the centre will remain with the Council, which will restore Saturday opening to help make Durban House more accessible to visitors. A dedicated room within the centre would be made available for University activities in widening participation, education, outreach and research.
The latest rescue package follows the University’s unsuccessful bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2009, for funding to secure the future of the centre.
Leader of the Council, Councillor David Watts, and Portfolio Holder for Housing Leisure and Culture, Councillor Milan Radulovic, were both delighted at the announcement.
They said: “This is excellent news for the Borough of Broxtowe and particularly the community of Eastwood. A partnership with The University of Nottingham provides the ideal platform for the future of Durban House and will provide a superb opportunity for its development in the future.”
Durban House is a landmark in Eastwood and a key part of the cultural heritage associated with DH Lawrence. It was built in 1896 for the Barber Walker mining company. The company owned several pits in the area and employed hundreds of miners, including Lawrence’s father.
It was from Durban House that a young DH Lawrence collected his father’s weekly pay packets.
When the colliery offices closed in 1917, it was re-opened as an Official’s Institute with a concert hall, billiard room, games room and library. In the 1940s, it was converted into flats for the Barber-Walker managers in the late 1940s. These were closed in the 1980s and the building stood derelict for several years before it was purchased by Broxtowe Borough Council in 1995.
Today it is a key part of Lawrence heritage in Eastwood, with exhibits presenting the author’s life and times, court copies of his most controversial book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and photographs and displays recording the details of life in a mining community — including a re-creation of a mine shaft. For the last seven years it has also been the venue for the month-long DH Lawrence Festival.
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PICTURED (left to right) at the official handover of the University's proposal, at Durban House, Eastwood: Councillor Milan Radulovic, Broxtowe Borough Council; Councillor David Watts, Broxtowe Borough Council; Professor Karen Cox, University of Nottingham.
Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.
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