THE COUNTRY’S only surviving steam-driven brickworks has received a “lifeline”

today in the shape of more than £666,000 in lottery funding.

Grade II listed Bursledon Brickworks produced more than 20million bricks a year in its heyday – and now survives with the help of volunteers and visitor donations.

But the struggling 19th century heritage site has now been given a boost after lottery bosses granted it £666,300.

The money will be used to open up the first floor of the building, create two more education spaces and employ some paid staff.

The museum, which currently relies on several popular events throughout the year to boost its coffers, will also be able to open more regularly.

Project manager Carolyne Haynes said: “We’re always under threat, in that it’s a big building that’s permanently trying to fall down and we’re permanently trying to keep it open, running it with volunteers. The most important thing about this money is we’ll be able to pay some staff to make sure we can open three days a week – that will give us a regular opening time.

“The place deserves to be recognised nationally and this is a big first step towards that.”

The grant will also help pay for improved disabled access for the museum, in Coal Park Lane, Swanwick.

The head of the south-east’s Heritage Lottery Fund, Stuart McLeod, said: “Our industrial heritage is something we should be hugely proud of – it helped build the world we live in today.

Bursledon Brickworks is the perfect example of this and an incredible survivor of its time.”

The museum will gradually increase opening times, aiming to open three days a week between March and October in 2014.

There is an open day at the site on Sunday between 10am and 4pm.