Remembering the past, celebrating the future

The chinking of china cups replaced the sound of clinking champagne flutes when the Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Councillor Simon White, helped to celebrate the unveiling of The Belong Heritage Gallery at the site of the town’s first and only pottery. The Belong Heritage Gallery has been created by transforming the town’s oldest building in conjunction with a wider £13.5m care village development by Belong.

Made possible by a £1.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the gallery will now serve as a centre for world-leading dementia care and document the history of the Grade-II listed building, which includes being a pottery, a coaching inn and famous 80s nightspot ‘Maxims’. It features several reminiscence spaces inspired by the building’s past, including Samuel Bell’s Tea Room and a recreation of the Old Pomona Inn, which used to be housed in the building.

Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme, the most recent of Belong’s seven care villages to open, offers 24-hour nursing and dementia care for up to 72 residents in care households as well as 28 apartments for independent living. The Mayor and other visitors toured these facilities as well the various amenities in the village’s central hub, including the bistro, hair salon and exercise studio, all of which are accessible to the wider community. Councillor White also met with art students from Newcastle college, who proudly displayed their artistic renditions of the historic building.

Alison Peake, General Manager of Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme, said: “I’m absolutely delighted the public are getting to see the Belong Heritage Gallery for the first time. As far as I know, no other care provider has such a facility to complement their dementia care services. The centre will also serve as an important link for the local community to the heritage and history of the local area.”

Vanessa Harbar, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands said: "We are delighted to support this project, which, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will bring a building back to serve the local community and provide skills and jobs as well as support to those with dementia.”