BRIDPORT Museum has been awarded nearly £100,000 worth of Lottery funding to kickstart its £1million redevelopment.

The Heritage Lottery Fund money will go to support the museum’s ‘Bridport Dagger’ redevelopment.

The project is a large capital redevelopment which aims to completely re-imagine the interior of the museum and all its displays.

The initial funding of £97,000 will go towards the first stage of architects’ plans which will help the museum apply for the full grant.

Museum curator Emily Hicks said: “We’re so excited that Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this initial support.

“For a long time now the trust has been wanting to redevelop the museum, but we have never had the funds.”

The catalyst for the project was the recent acquisition of the Sanctuary rope and net collection.

Formed over many years by Anthony and Frances Sanctuary in Uploders, the collection forms a nationally important record of Bridport’s unique 800-year-old rope and netting industry.

Included in the collection are pieces of machinery which it is hoped can be put back to working order.

They will then form the centrepiece of the main gallery, including a small working ropewalk which can be used to show visitors how rope was made.

Ms Hicks added: “The acquisition of this new collection has been the perfect catalyst for creating a wonderful new museum.

“The vision is for a museum which is fun, friendly and engaging, and something that Bridport can really be proud of.”

Entrance to the museum is free and there are ‘no plans’ to change that, said Ms Hicks.

It is planned to have new displays throughout the building showcasing Bridport’s huge variety of collections which also include Jurassic Coast fossils, archaeology, fine art, social history and natural history. Downstairs will be a multi-functional learning space. It will include activities such as dressing up, objects to handle, and interactive games. It will have touch screens with photographs and more information on Bridport’s history and the museum’s collections.

Ms Hicks said: “Alongside the capital redevelopments will be a busy activities programme which has community participation at its heart. It will include activities for schools to get involved, will be asking groups to comment on the new proposals, and will create new volunteering opportunities.”

The museum will be expected to match fund the initial grant so there will be lots of community fundraising, said Ms Hicks.

The museum has been housed at 25 South Street since 1932, the second oldest building in the town, and is Grade II* listed .

Part of the project involves carrying out essential conservation and repair work to preserve windows, stonework and combat growing damp problems. New central heating will allow year-round opening, a fully accessible public toilet with baby changing facilities and a lift will improve access.

Nerys Watts, head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West England, said: “This project aims to transform Bridport Museum with new displays and educational opportunities. We look forward to working with the museum further, and receiving the detailed plans in due course.”