London Borough of Culture - celebrating heritage

26 March 2018

Stuart Hobley, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in London, shares why he’s excited about the London Borough of Culture programme and how National Lottery funding can help the winners.

Congratulations, Waltham Forest & Brent! 

Two brilliant winners with a real passion for their local heritage.

It was fantastic to be involved in the decision-making process and see the hard work and creativity that has gone into all the bidding boroughs’ applications. 

How has HLF worked with the winning boroughs before?

We’ve previously awarded funding to both boroughs to preserve and celebrate different aspects of their heritage. 

National Lottery investment has been crucial in transforming Waltham Forest into a destination for arts and culture. We’ve supported the William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park and the heritage-led regeneration of St James Street and Walthamstow Market. Walthamstow Wetlands re-opened last year, and they are glorious!

In Brent, we awarded £1.7m to open up the remarkable Willesden Jewish Cemetery to the public and help visitors explore and understand the stories of those buried there. We’ve funded Gladstone Park, as well as community groups exploring topics including the Grunswick Strike and African soldiers in the First World War.

We’re also supporting the Tricycle Theatre redevelopment, which will, I’m sure, add value to Brent’s celebrations.

How will HLF be supporting the winning boroughs?

We’ll be working closely with the boroughs’ heritage and culture teams and encouraging them to apply for funding for projects that support their cultural programmes. Heritage is central to an area’s character, so we think heritage should be central to the celebrations.

What are you most looking forward to seeing from the winning bids?

London Borough of Culture will be a great opportunity to get communities talking, sharing and celebrating their heritage. There are many stories that we’re familiar with, but importantly, many that we have never heard. I’d love to see this hidden heritage come to the fore.

For whom do you think London Borough of Culture will have the most impact?

Both bids highlighted the importance that heritage and culture play in inspiring young people. From volunteering to skills development, LBOC is a real moment for young people to use their voice to champion the culture of where they live.

As we’ve seen in Hull, this year of culture brings renewed interest in local businesses, so I hope they both support and benefit from this exciting opportunity.

What if my borough didn’t win any of the prizes?

We are still open for applications from all London boroughs! In particular we’re keen to hear from groups in our priority development areas: Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Hillingdon, Kingston and Redbridge. If the competition has inspired an idea, then get in touch with us at [email protected]