Mansfield & Sutton Astronomical Society are delighted to announce the securing of grants of £13,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £4,200 from the Architectural Heritage Fund and £3,000 from Ashfield District Council. The HLF funds have come from National Lottery players through their ticket purchases.
The £3,000 granted by Ashfield District Council will pay for an Economic Impact Assessment which will examine the effect of the project on the visitor economy and tourism in Ashfield and the surrounding area as tourism and regeneration is a key priority for the District Council
The funding will help the Society to develop its plans to restore a Victorian underground reservoir, built in the late 19th century, and convert it into a visitor centre and associated planetarium. The reservoir is situated on land next to Sherwood Observatory, which is on Coxmoor Rd, Sutton-in-Ashfield. The project aims to restore and make accessible a valuable example of our industrial heritage as well as allowing MSAS to expand its outreach activities.
The Society operates the Observatory, which houses one of the largest amateur telescopes in the UK. The Society was founded in 1970 and the Observatory designed and constructed entirely by Society members and supporters. The Observatory was officially opened in 1986 by the Astronomer Royal Professor Sir Francis Graham-Smith.
Robert Dawes, Chair of MSAS, said: “Our astronomy outreach has been very popular with children and adults for many years through open evenings and group visits. A visitor centre housed in the Victorian reservoir coupled with a planetarium will create a double wow factor and allow us to significantly expand our activities. We are extremely grateful to our funders for giving us the opportunity to develop our vision to create a truly unique visitor experience”
Councillor Jason Zadrozny, Leader of Ashfield District Council said: “We are proud to be supporting this unique project as it has so many exciting opportunities. The grant shows our eagerness to ensure that this project will benefit the economy in Ashfield. We also hope that this will reveal the positive impact on Ashfield’s local tourism.
"It’s fantastic to see such keen enthusiasts who are passionate about what they do taking the first steps to making this idea come to life.”
The Society has a full and varied events calendar including open evenings during the autumn and winter months, where visitors have an opportunity to look through its telescopes. In addition to this, outreach programmes include solar days, astrophotography training, group visits including schools, colleges and the Scout and Girl Guide movements. There is also a 6-week basic astronomy course. The lectures aimed at the general public are given on many aspects of astronomy. The Society is entirely operated by volunteer members.