A SURGE in family history research has led to a renaissance for a 134-year-old institution in Bacup.

Trustees at Bacup Natural History Society, affectionately known as ‘The Nat’, are now embarking on a major overhaul of their Yorkshire Street home.

And their renovations have already uncovered a startling discovery – an ancient toilet and two gravestones.

One filing cabinet was removed in the lecture room to reveal a hidden alcove containing the old-fashioned ‘tippler’ toilet, a Belfast sink, stone trough, and the two monuments.

Photographic librarian Wendy Watters said the discovery is probably linked to the venue’s past as the former Hare and Hounds public house.

First established in 1878, The Nat had a number of homes before settling in the old alehouse in 1947.

Wendy added: “We have experienced an increase in visitors researching their family history, and we are struggling to provide enough room for people to do their research.

“We have a lecture room, where we used to hold lectures every Saturday.

“We are moving them to once a month, and that lecture room is being refurbished.”

Currently there are around 60 to 70 members, and the organisation survives on subscriptions, sales of local history DVDs, and seasonal fundraisers.

An application to Bacup Forum, for the revamp, has been successful, with £4,254 awarded from project funds.

County Coun Jimmy Eaton said: “This is an excellent project and people are working very hard here.

“We should be behind this 110per cent.

“I am sure there are a lot more grants available for them, and our local councillors can assist in filling in applications.”