The people of Eastwood have spoken out about their ‘disgust’ at plans to close the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre.
Durban House in Mansfield Road has been recommended for closure in a council report and the final decision will be made in a meeting next week.
But Eastwood folk described the decision as ‘ludicrous’, saying it was the heritage centre that brought people to the area and gave the town its name.
Eastwood councillor Milan Radulovic was instrumental in getting the funding to originally open the Lawrence Centre and said he felt ‘let down’ and ‘extremely disappointed’.
“It’s important to maintain the heritage and to try and attract more and more people to Eastwood,” he said.
“We need to protect and promote our local heritage. We can’t do that if we close it down can we?”
Cllr Radulovic was chairman on a panel of people looking at regenerating the town back in 1999 when Broxtowe Borough Council bought the building.
“There’s people from all over the world that come to the Lawrence Centre. They come from every corner of the globe. To close it is ridiculous. It’s a completely false economy.
“It’s also used for the festival which is vital for attracting people into the area,” added the councillor.
Jill Williams who runs Lawrencetown Jewellers in Nottingham Road described the move as ‘dreadful’ and said more effort was needed to generate the cash needed to keep it open.
“I think it’s really dreadful. If they put more effort into making more of it, then more visitors would come.
“The open days they have are really well attended so why not do more of them? I think if they put more effort into advertising it and promoting it, it would pay off.”
One Eastwood resident who didn’t want to be named called it a ‘disgrace’.
“It’s been there so long. I think it’s a disgrace. He is a well known name around here.”
Julie Lounds, 61, said people come from all over to visit the museum.
“I was in Blackpool recently and I heard people talking about going to Eastwood to visit the Lawrence museum.
“It’s a great shame because I know it brings a lot of people here.”
Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero has launched a petition and said she would ‘fight tooth and nail’ to try and save the site.
She has also written a letter, alongside Broxtowe Mayor Sue Bagshaw, to the chief executive of Broxtowe Borough Council voicing her opinion about the proposed closure.
Gloria, who said the news was ‘deeply disappointing’ said: “Lawrence is undergoing something of a renaissance and we should do what we can to not only protect our heritage but boost tourism in the area and capitalise on this growing interest – not severe a link to the man who helped put Eastwood on the map.
“It would be a huge blow to the town if one of our biggest assets was to close its doors and I’d urge the council to think again and oppose these short sighted plans.
“I will fight tooth and nail to keep the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre open,” she added.
Sue Bagshaw, Mayor of Broxtowe and Eastwood councillor said: “It’s such an important building to Eastwood and it will be a hammer blow if we were to lose it. It’s a super place and I’d hate to see it shut to the public.”
Not long before the proposed closure was announced Gloria organised a meeting to discuss erecting a statue of Lawrence in Eastwood.
She said a statue proudly commemorating him for putting the town on the map was ‘long overdue’.
“It is hoped a permanent statue would cement the town’s relationship with the author as it continues to capitalise on his reputation and popularity,” she said.
“He’s one of the most celebrated writers in the world, his work was inspired by where he was raised, Eastwood, and so although we have good tourism, for such a famous writer I think we can get so much more.
“It’s good for business, good for jobs and good for local pride; I just thought it was ridiculous that we haven’t got a statue of him. He’s constantly in popular culture so it’s time to celebrate him and try to make sure Eastwood’s on the map.”
A spokesperson at Broxtowe Borough Council said the decision, made next Tuesday, would not affect the birthplace museum in Victoria Street.
To sign the petition go to www.gloria-de-piero.co.uk or www.facebook.com/gloriadepiero.
“You can’t have everything and if you have got to make cuts and save money then that’s that. It’s so easy to spend but not so easy to save.”
William Smith, 73, Moorgreen
“It should definitely not close it’s terrible. It’s the heritage of the town and what makes it. It gives Eastwood a name.”
Clarice Ross, 72, Eastwood
“I’m really not very happy about it at all. I’ve lived here all my life and Lawrence is part of our little town. Not happy at all.”
Pat Storer, 78, Eastwood
“It’s absolutely awful. It’s the heritage of Eastwood. I don’t think it’s the right move at all. It attracts people into the town.”
Melvin Sellers, 72, Eastwood