A SPECIAL preview has taken place of two new heritage rooms, an education project and an events and volunteer programme at Stourport Canal Basins.

The event, last Friday, gave Stourport Forward and partners a preview of the latest steps to develop the town’s historic canal basins as a major heritage tourism attraction.

John Holden, Mayor of Stourport, cut a ribbon to open the newly refurbished Tontine Stable Heritage Room and unveiled the “window on the past” at the Old Ticket Office, which shows how the basins might have appeared when Stourport was a busy working canal port.

The developments will be fully open to the public for the first time from noon to 4pm on Easter Sunday.

The heritage rooms will be staffed by volunteers from Stourport Forward and Stourport Civic Society.

Educational visits to the basins are currently being developed through a project with Bewdley Museum and British Waterways.

The launch celebrated the creation of a Stourport Basins Fact File and Trail and four education resource boxes.

It culminated in the launch of the new events and activities programme for 2010, made possible by the small group of dedicated volunteers formed last year.

The programme includes Easter at Stourport Canal Basins, a May heritage weekend, a pirates’ weekend in August, heritage open days weekend in September and a Hallowe’en weekend.

The developments have been funded through grants from Advantage West Midlands, Wyre Forest District Council, Worcestershire County Council and Stourport Civic Society.

Support from British Waterways, Stourport Town Council, Bewdley Museum, other partners and a committed core team of volunteers has assisted in developing and delivering the project.

The design of the heritage rooms has been led by Ice House, working with The Bank, with support from partners and volunteers.

Pauline Annis, chairman of Stourport Forward, said: “The new heritage rooms, education project and events programme will usher in a bright new future for the attraction, which will be the jewel in the crown of the local waterway network.”