Patrons back bid to buy and renovate Cumbrian poet's Millom home

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24 March 2017 5:19PM

TWO famous broadcasters are among a list of notable individuals who have pledged their support to buy and renovate a Cumbrian poet’s former home.

The Norman Nicholson Society has launched a project to buy, repair and fully open Norman Nicholson's former house in Millom to the public.

Stuart Maconie, a DJ, author and specialist in popular culture, and Eric Robson, an author, film producer and chairman of the BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time, have both accepted invitations to be patrons of the Norman Nicholson House Project.

The society hosted a launch event at St George's Church in the town on Thursday.

The group intends to seek grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund to buy the Victorian terraced house on St George’s Terrace.

The property has been on the market for over a year. The asking price is £59,500.

The renovation is set to include an upgraded café, restoration of Nicholson family rooms to reflect the way they looked when Norman and his parents lived there, and a Nicholson "visitor experience". The society says it hopes to offer accommodation for, among other others, a writer in residence.

Chairman of the Society, Charlie Lambert, said: “I am delighted that so many respected individuals are backing our project. It shows that there is a real drive to do something constructive, both for the ongoing study of Nicholson’s work and also for the town of Millom.”

The full list of patrons is: Dr Penny Bradshaw (head of English, University of Cumbria), Dr David Cooper (senior lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University), Doreen Cornthwaite (cousin of Norman Nicholson), Neil Curry (poet and editor of Norman Nicholson: Collected Poems), Richard Greer (chairman of The Creative Society), Phil Houghton (poet and writer), Kathleen Jones (fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and Nicholson’s biographer), Stuart Maconie (broadcaster and writer), Eric Robson (broadcaster, writer and farmer), the Reverend Clive Shaw (vicar of St George’s Church, Millom), Councillor Doug Wilson (mayor of Millom) and

Councillor Felicity Wlson (former mayor of Millom).

Mr Robson said: “I'm delighted to be a patron of what sounds like a great project”.

Mr Maconie said: “I’m happy to support this. I’m a big fan of Norman Nicholson.”

Dr Bradshaw said: “I am very supportive of the society's endeavours to protect the house as well as their proposals for future development”.

Cllr Wilson said: “Felicity and myself are both delighted to assist in some way in bringing about this brilliant concept”.

Mr Houghton tweeted: “Delighted to be announced as one of patrons for Nicholson House project”.

Dr Cooper tweeted: “Really flattered to be invited to support the Norman Nicholson Society’s great project”.

Norman Nicholson OBE

Norman Nicholson was born in Millom in 1914. He lived in Millom until his death in 1987 with the exception of two years in his late teens when he was sent to a sanatorium in Hampshire to recover from tuberculosis - an event which shaped his subsequent life.

His writing career lasted from 1930 until his death and embraced plays, poetry, novels, criticism and essays.

He is best known for his poetry and was awarded the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1977 and the OBE in 1981.

Mr Nicholson's former home, 14 St George's Terrace, is part of a terrace built in 1880. The building was in used as Dixon’s the chemist’s until 1906 when Mr Nicholson's father, Joseph Nicholson, opened his gents’ outfitters there. The family lived behind and above the shop.

When Norman Nicholson returned from the sanatorium, after treatment for TB, the front attic room became his bedroom to allow him as much fresh air as possible.

This room, the house, the town of Millom and the neighbouring area have all become synonymous with Nicholson, between them being the source of inspiration for his writing, poetry, drama and prose, as well as being the physical setting for the vast majority of his writing activity.

The building is today a cafe.

The Norman Nicholson House Project can be contacted at normannicholsonhouse@gmail.com and further information is available

at www.normannicholson.org

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