CULTURAL hubs in Colchester will now be improved and transformed after the city was awarded a cash injection of more than £500,000.

Colchester Library and Colchester Museums have received a combined windfall of £566,350 from Arts Council England on behalf of the Government.

The money, fronted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, makes up just part of a huge £58.8 million cultural funding pot being distributed outside of London.

Downing Street hopes the distribution of the windfall will result in “everyone, no matter where they live”, being given access to the UK’s “world-renowned culture”.


The grant being divided up between Colchester Council and Essex County Council and will see £337,500 given to Colchester Library and £228,850 to Colchester Museums.

At Colchester Library a Children’s Imagination and Literacy Centre will be created on the ground floor as part of a project which Essex County Council will also contribute £112,500 towards.

It will become a free-flowing and inclusive space featuring interactive science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics equipment and house fun materials for learning.

Equipment will include augmented reality mirrors, a bubble screen, infinity mirrors and specialist LED lighting, whilst the centre will have a Roman theme to fit Colchester’s history.

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A mobile Interactive Projection Technology system will also provide inter-generational sensory experiences from the new centre.

Louise McKinlay is Essex County Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for community, equality, partnerships and performance.

She said: “The innovative new centre will be a really exciting addition to Colchester Library, better joining up the library’s offer and creating new opportunities for children and families to learn and play in a unique, interactive setting.

“Improving literacy is a key priority for us and this investment will help us meet our Levelling Up ambitions by creating a fun and interactive environment which encourages a love of learning and reading.”


David King, leader of Colchester Council, is just as excited by the library boost.

He said: “This is fantastic news and we welcome anything that our county partners do to invest in Colchester facilities.

“We have a close relationship and a similar view on need and I really welcome the change of the heart of recent years about libraries and their place in the community.

“I welcome the investment and whatever else might follow – this is going to help many of our young people and help make our library an even better place.”

Colchester Museums, meanwhile, will use the money to carry out vital repairs to Hollytrees Museum, which attracts roughly 40,000 visitors each year.

Built in 1718, the Georgian townhouse was converted into a museum in 1929 and today is free to visitors all year round and is frequented by many schools.  

However, the roof of the Grade 1-listed building, home to historic collections, is in desperate need of improvement works prevent water damage and access issues.

Gazette: Hollytrees Museum

Pam Cox, Colchester councillor responsible for Culture and Heritage, is delighted to the city has been awarded the history-preserving funding.

She said: “Colchester Museums would like to thank DCMS, Arts Council England, and Colchester Council for their generous support of this project.

“We continue to protect and preserve the beautiful and historically important Hollytrees Museum for future generations to enjoy.”