Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Save Durban House, Eastwood

Durban House Museum / Conference and Exhibition Centre is located at Eastwood, Notts near the Notts/Derbyshire border and is a building associated with the life of D H Lawrence and with the history of the mining industry in the area.

It is situated between the D H Lawrence Birthplace Museum and Brinsley Headstocks (see pictures below). Nearby is Eastwood Library, home to the Lawrence Collection. Eastwood was home for many years to Lawrence and to his friend and fellow writer William Edward Hopkin, said to have been the model for Lawrence`s characters Willie Houghton (in `Touch and Go`) and Lewis Goddard (in `Mr Noon`). Novelist William Howitt was born in nearby Heanor and the Howitt collection, comprising works by both William and Mary Howitt is to be found at Heanor Library.

Brinsley Headstocks, on the site of the now defunct Brinsley Colliery. D H Lawrence`s uncle Jim met with a fatal accident whilst working as a miner here, an incident referred to repeatedly in  Lawrence`s work.

Durban House came to national attention recently when The Observer newspaper printed a letter signed by a number of public figures objecting to the proposed closure/sale of the building by current owners Broxtowe Borough Council.

In part, the letter read ; "Industrial communities like Eastwood are often overlooked. Cultural funding can all too easily be concentrated only in the centre of our cities. We call on Broxtowe council to guarantee the continued survival of this national asset."  Signatories included authors Geoff Dyer, Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis, film folk Billy Ivory, Lord David Puttnam, Ken Russell and Rosamund Pike, politicians Glenda Jackson MP and Gloria de Piero MP and a representative of the D H Lawrence Society. 

This is one of those campaigns in which the various parties seem to have trouble agreeing on the facts. Council leader David Watts claims the council paid £1, 000, 000 for the building and spends £60,000 a year to keep it open.  Campaigners  point out that other organisations helped the council out with the purchase price, that commercial concerns have rented space within the building from the council, providing a flow of income, and that it attracts visitors to the area.

Useful articles ; 

R Faulks (reader`s letter) - Durban House Rethink Needed (9 Nov 2010)

Delia Monk - Authors Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis Among High Profile Campaigners to Keep Durban House Open (18 Oct 2010)

Unsigned  - Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis Back Campaign to Save D H Lawrence Heritage Centre (17 Oct 2010)

These are all to be found at . Details of events and activities taking place at the museum can also be found here.

Also interesting ;

No doubt the controversy will continue for a while yet !


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