Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, set out the organisation's plans for the year ahead in a speech he gave on 22 May at Apsley House, London.
Several projects are under way for the National Heritage Collection, the most important of which is Stonehenge where work starts imminently on restoring the landscape around the stones and constructing new visitor facilities located out of sight from the monument. Also this year, Queen Victoria's private beach at Osborne on the Isle of Wight will be opened to the public for the first time, complete with Queen Victoria's bathing machine and her stone shelter, now restored. New displays have opened at Housesteads and at Carlisle Castle and this summer we will also reveal the restored 1930s ornamental flower garden at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.
Heritage at Risk remains a high priority for English Heritage. Our grant programme continues to prioritise the most vulnerable heritage such as the Grade II* Tynemouth Station, Buxton Crescent and Castle House, Taunton. English Heritage is also putting an additional £1 million into The Challenge Fund to be matched by philanthropists. The fund was set up last year with £1 million from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and has so far supported three major projects: Dawes Twineworks, Coker; George Street Chapel, Oldham and Old St Mary's Copthall.
The National Monument Record has been renamed the English Heritage Archives to reflect the breadth of material it contains. Funding has been secured to digitise and catalogue some 95,000 historic aerial images of Britain in the Aerofilms collection over four years and the public will be able to download and access them from a new website, Britain from Above, in June.
As the Great War and even World War II begin to recede from living memory, war memorials are more important than ever. English Heritage is pleased to be working with the War Memorials Trust to develop a national interactive database which will enable members of the public to add details and report on the condition of memorials across the country and which will ensure that those who laid down their lives for future generations are not forgotten nor the monuments to them neglected.
The Government has awarded £2.7 million over three years to English Heritage to help schools use local heritage to deliver the curriculum and bring history to life both in and out of the classroom. The Heritage Schools project will ensure that children visit and acquire an understanding of local heritage sites.
Speaking to representatives of the heritage sector at an event at Apsley House, London, Simon Thurley said: "We all hope that, despite the grave state of the economy, 2012, the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be one of renewal and optimism. It will certainly be one in which our history and heritage will be brought to the fore."
A full list of projects can be downloaded by clicking on the pdf on the right hand side of this page.
A video of the speeches at the event will be available from 23 May.