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News Stories

May 2004 Press Releases


Plans for a new heritage centre that will tell the Story of Southampton took another step forward earlier today (Monday, May 24) when city councillors considered a shortlist of potential sites.

The long-standing archaeological excavation in the Lower High Street area, Mayflower Park, as part of the wider redevelopment of the Royal Pier area, and Berth 101 in Southampton’s docks, currently operated by Associated British Ports, have all been earmarked for further investigation. The Vosper Thornycroft shipyard site in Woolston, currently being cleared, will also considered.

The Story of Southampton is a working title for the planned centre that will trace the city’s development from its prehistoric origins, through important Roman and Saxon settlements, to thriving Medieval and Regency towns, and the city’s 20th Century role as Britain’s “Gateway to the World”.

The council’s cabinet also committed £60,000 to assess the locations, draw up a development brief to attract private investment, find a permanent storage site for the city’s reserve heritage collections and revise the council’s collections policy.

An initial feasibility study into ways of delivering a visitor attraction and education centre that would celebrate Southampton’s history was delivered by the Vision Works consultancy in March. The company carried out an audit of Southampton’s Heritage assets, explored potential sources of funding for the new centre, looked at its tourism potential, and narrowed its search for possible sites down to the three locations.

The work is being guided by a cross-party Heritage Working Group, which first met last year to develop an outline brief for what is envisaged as an imaginative and exciting visitor experience, coupled with an important reference and learning centre.
The council’s project manager for the scheme, Duncan Brown, said: “Today’s decision is an important milestone in our ambitions to deliver the Story of Southampton centre. The consultants have given us plenty to work on – and have raised some important questions that will take us to the next stage.”

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