A HISTORIC Hampshire brickworks will be unveiling a makeover of more than half a million pounds.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will be officially launching the new Bursledon Brickworks Museum, which has undergone significant improvements in the last 18 months.

These came after it was awarded cash by the HLF.

Improved access to the whole site and getting more visitors was at the heart of the Lottery project which granted the museum a total £666,300 in 2012.

The grant has already helped to get the museum open three days a week, with a plan to open more often in the future.

New features include a selfguided tour, where you can follow the route of a lump of clay to becoming a brick.

Films will show the machinery working and ex-employees talking about their experiences.

Bricks of all kinds, from small plastic play ones to Roman tiles, will be on show and available to hold.

Bursledon Brickworks will be relaunched on August 17.

It was founded in 1897 by the Ashby family of brick makers from Chandler’s Ford.

The site was innovative in its approach at the time which allowed production to continue all year round at its peak producing 20 million bricks a year.

But due to difficulty in extracting clay and out of date machinery the brickworks became unviable and closed in 1974.

The site was saved from development and sold to the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust.

Volunteers, 60 of whom continue to run the museum, say although the museum is of national historic importance, it has never really managed to tell its story fully or to a wide audience.

But they hope now thanks to the funding it can.

The launch day will also be an opportunity for residents to see the machinery working and activities on site.

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said the brickworks was a perfect example of the role that factories in the Southampton area played in industrial history and was “an incredible survivor of its time”.

Bill Fergie, chairman of Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust said: “The work that the Heritage Lottery Fund has helped us to undertake has made us much more optimistic about its future.

“We hope to see the brickworks go from strength to strength and fulfil its potential to become a nationally significant museum.”