South Shields fort gets big cash boost

Arbeia Roman Fort
Arbeia Roman Fort

The Arbeia Roman Fort has scooped a £150,000 grant.

The DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund have given the cash to the South Shields landmark.

The funding will be used to launch the first phase of a larger redevelopment plan, which will see improved interpretation, physical access and way-finding of the heritage site which was occupied by the Romans for 300 years.

Iain Watson, Director of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be one of the 39 museums and galleries in England and one of the only two in the North East to receive funding from DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund.

"The redevelopment project will help us to greatly improve our visitor offer as it will better connect the archaeological finds and collection with the remains on the site highlighting the special story of this unique site in South Shields.”

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “I am delighted that Arbeia Roman Fort has been awarded this funding.

“Arbeia is already a key tourist attraction as well as being a much-loved cultural and educational venue for local residents and the wider region, providing a fascinating insight into the Borough’s history.

“This funding will enable the heritage site to further enhance and expand its superb visitor offer and we look forward to working in partnership with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums to develop this attraction further.”

Improvements will be made to the accessible routes around the site and viewing areas will be developed. An alternative and unique audio visual film will be created to present the story of Arbeia, which was the key supply base at the mouth of the River Tyne for the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.

While Arbeia is already a popular site, attracting 33,000 visitors in 2015-16 of which 7% were from overseas, the project will also raise Arbeia’s own profile and visibility by developing closer links with other visitor attractions in South Shields.

Arbeia is the only site in Britain to have a range of in situ reconstructed Roman buildings and is home to the largest collection of objects from any Roman site in northern Britain.

This news is just another string to the UNESCO World Heritage site’s bow as it received national praise in 2016 when it was one of only three museums and galleries to take part in King’s College London’s pilot project: ‘My Primary School is at the Museum.’

Arbeia Roman Fort is also a destination in the ‘unmissable’ wall-wide Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibition which opens in April and runs until September this year. Hadrian’s Wall has since been identified as one of the top 20 best destinations to visit in 2017 in the world.

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