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Villa is going to be beautiful once more; Restoration thanks to Lottery cash.

A LISTED villa which was home to one of Tyneside's leading 19th-Century figures is to be restored thanks to a lottery award.

Bensham Grove in Gateshead was the home of Robert Spence-Watson - lawyer, politician, educator, social reformer and writer.

Robert lived at Bensham Grove with his wife Elizabeth and their six children. She was a pioneer for votes for women in the North East. National figures, including prime ministers, poets, authors, artists and explorers were regular visitors.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given pounds 289,400 for the restoration project, which will be run by Gateshead Council and Bensham Grove Community Association.

It will restore the early 19th-Century building and its historic features alongside an extensive programme of learning and community activities centred on the history of the house. Shirley Brown, chairman of the Bensham Grove management committee, said: "We have a lot of the original features in Bensham Grove, and this grant gives us the chance to make the building beautiful again.

"There have always been inspirational people and ideas at Bensham Grove, and this project will enable the whole community to make a contribution to its future."

Ivor Crowther, HLF head in the North East, said: "This grant will rejuvenate and repair this important building back to its former Victorian splendour and ensure it continues to play a key role in the community, acting as a creative hub."


HISTORY Historian Shirley Brown, left, and manager Chris O'Toole at Bensham Grove Community Centre which will be restored to its former glory
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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