ALMOST £100,000 in Heritage Lottery funding has been awarded to Lyme Regis Museum to help develop the Mary Anning Wing Initiative.

The project aims to make Lyme’s unique history and palaeontology more accessible to audiences of all ages and abilities.

The Mary Anning Wing Initiative will provide the museum with a new geology gallery, a learning space and an enlarged shop, as well as the public toilets and lift the building lacks.

The museum aims to start construction of the Mary Anning Wing in the autumn of 2016, for completion in spring 2017.

Development funding totalling £99,900 has been awarded to help Lyme Regis Museum progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Museum director David Tucker said: “We’re over the moon at having won the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“This really is a triumph for the museum which will significantly help us in our long term aim of building the Mary Anning Wing – our long sought after extension. Lyme Regis Museum has gone from strength to strength over the last 25 years, and it’s great to know that we are a step nearer to ensuring the museum is thriving in 2102.”

The project aims to provide visitors and local people with many more ways in which they can engage with, and learn about Lyme Regis and the place the town holds in history, especially through its role as the birthplace of the science of palaeontology and the home of Mary Anning, the world’s first great fossil hunter and early scientist.

Lyme Regis Museum was built in 1902 and stands on the site of Mary Anning’s home.

The museum was endowed by Thomas Philpot, nephew of Elizabeth Philpot, who was a close friend of Mary Anning and a significant collector in her own right. The museum currently receives of 25,000 visitors a year as well as running its famous fossil walks, which have been featured on television on several occasions.

Approximately 100 local volunteers work to develop exhibitions and initiatives telling the stories of Lyme Regis people.

The museum has a year to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award and full grant of £755,000.