Trust comes to the aid of Historical Village

All smiles (from left to right) are John Russell (chairman of the Stevenson Village Trust), Kerry Powell (manager Howick Historical Village) and Rob Mouncey (president Howick & Districts Historical Society). Times photo Wayne Martin.

A grant from the Stevenson Village Trust has helped the Howick Historical Village out of a potentially stressful financial situation with a blow out on one of its major conservation projects.

Late in 2016 the board of the Howick & Districts Historical Society decided to proceed with the conservation of the exterior of Sergeant Ford’s Fencible cottage in the village.

The cottage was originally built in Panmure in 1848 and is a wonderful example of a Fencible Sergeant’s Cottage and is of considerable cultural heritage significance. It was relocated to the village in 1994 with original restoration work being carried out in 1996.

In order to fund the project, an application was made to the Lotteries Commission and the Society used its own financial resources for the one third “partnership “funding that Lotteries require applicants to have before considering an application. The original cost of the project was $54,000 a substantial sum for a not-for profit-museum like the village to find.

The application was made in February and a favourable decision was received in May. Work had commenced in April using the society’s “partnership” funding.

As the work commenced through the coming months and the structure and foundations of the building became more visible it was clear that the amount of conservation and replacement of rotten framing and foundations was far greater than original envisaged.

The estimated total cost of the project was now $84,000. Having started, the society then made the difficult financial decision to carry on.

As Howick & Districts Historical Society president Rob Mouncey said: “Once we start a project like this, it is very difficult to stop as to close the building up without remedial work being completed is an absolute waste of money.”

The decision to proceed put the financial reserves of the society under considerable stress.
Around this time, it became known that the Stevenson Village Trust was requesting applications from local community groups to support worthwhile local projects.

“We made an application to the trust for assistance on the Sergeant Ford’s project and also to overcome Foundation North declining the normal annual operating grant application we had made in May,” Mr Mouncey said.

The Foundation North decision was “bitter sweet” as they had declined a $40,000 application for operational costs but had approved $150,000 for another major conservation project, the Maher Gallagher Cottage”.

“We were delighted to be informed in November that the Stevenson Village Trust had approved our application and had generously topped it up as well,” Mr Mouncey said.

“It was a huge relief to gain the funds we were awarded as it overcame two major hurdles, financing the conservation project and allowing us to continue to pay for our day-to-day operational costs.

“We cannot thank the Stevenson Village Trust enough. The grant was not only a life raft, it has helped set us up to do some of the other work a museum like the village should be doing on collections management and audience development.

John Russell, chairman of the Stevenson Village Trust, said: “The trustees were delighted to support the Howick Historical Village as it is community-based museum that has grown into a destination of regional significance.”