West Midlands Police’s plans to create a museum that celebrates its’ history have taken one step further thanks to National Lottery players. The force has been looking for a way to house its unique collection of police memorabilia and improve public access to the whole region while ensuring the project is self-sustaining.
Part of the force’s redundant estate, a Victorian Lock Up has been earmarked as the museum’s potential home and thanks to initial National Lottery support*, the building has now been reserved from sale.
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office has approved the force’s proposal to remove the Lock Up on Steelhouse Lane, central Birmingham, from a list of buildings the force is looking to sell on as the force modernises and reduces its estate, so that museum plans can continue in earnest.
The grade II listing on the 1891 built Lock Up, originally designed to hold prisoners from across Birmingham before appearing at court, limits its conversion for commercial use.
Made possible by National Lottery players, development funding of £145,000 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to allow the team working on the museum’s future to fully scope out how the Lock-Up could be turned into a police museum. This funding will help West Midlands Police progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.
Plans for the police museum include making the historical collection more accessible to the public and presenting the force’s history in a way that engages all members of the community.
Highlights of the force’s historical collection include:
• The biggest prisoner photograph collection in the UK, including what is believed to be the oldest police custody photograph in the world.
• A wealth of records relating to the service of police officers though the ages, which is of interest to people researching their family history.
• Rare and obsolete items of police uniform and kit.
The Lock Up currently hosts open days and events. These are run by a group of volunteer staff members, PCSOs, police officers, retired staff and members of the wider community. The Lock Up also currently hosts events for volunteer police cadets and the Prince’s Trust. Audience development plans for the museum include attracting members of the community from disadvantaged areas across the region.
Lock-Up events are released every month. The public can purchase tickets and find out about future events by subscribing to the history website www.WMPeelers.com . People wanting to follow the progress of the museum plans can follow the story on Twitter - @WMPHistory
The future of the museum will depend on community support. Corporate sponsors are currently being sought and anyone wishing to discuss how they could help make the police museum a reality are asked to email Corrine Brazier - email@example.com
WMP Heritage lead Corinne Brazier said: “The Lock-Up is the perfect venue for the police museum, it is steeped in history and is where the real Peaky Blinders were held before they appeared in court. This funding will help us develop our plans over the next year to create a self-sustaining museum that becomes a real asset to the city.”
Inspector Steve Rice, recently seconded to the Heritage Project to help secure the funding and make the new force museum a reality, said: "We have an incredible collection of heritage from the past 200 years of policing across the West Midlands. The Lock-up gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase more of these amazing items than ever before, and ensure heroes of the past are never forgotten."
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said, “I am pleased to see plans for a permanent police museum take shape. Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund enables us to move to the next stage.
“This project will help us to reach out to different communities and show how policing has developed over the years. A self-sustaining police museum will be a really worthwhile project for the whole region.”
About the Lock Up
The 1891 built Lock Up was created to house prisoners from across Birmingham between arrest and their appearance at court. The building is Grade II listed, which limits how the building could be modified or converted as part of any future development. The Lock Up more recently formed part of Steelhouse Lane police station, more recently named ‘Birmingham Central.’ The rest of the Steelhouse Lane estate will still be released as part of the estates strategy
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
*HLF Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds. The Lock-Up project has initially been granted round one development funding of £145,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £963,300.
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk .