TWO previously unseen "world class" historical collections are to go on display at a Maldon museum - thanks to grant of almost half a million pounds.

The Combined Military Services Museum has revealed the cash award means the displays will be preserved and kept at the site for future generations.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has approved a bid by the Station Road museum for £477,000, the majority of which will be used to build a huge extension which will be used to house a brand new exhibition area with special environmental controls to ensure the artefacts' wellbeing.

It will also provide space for a meeting room and research workshops.

And an education officer will be employed to make sure the important exhibits are being looked after properly and supervise their display by volunteers and worker.

Once complete, the Donnington and Biglands collections will be unveiled.

The Donnington Collection features a huge array of historic weapons, while the Biglands Collection consists of artefacts from the English Civil War and Napoleonic Wars.

Neither collection has ever gone on show to the public before.

Richard Wooldridge, museum director, said: "We are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting this project.

"The grant will enable these two world class collections to go on public display for the first time.

"The project will benefit thousands of visitors and researchers, and provide enhanced facilities to everyone who visits the museum.

"The collections will draw in visitors from all over the country, and provide a boost to the local economy."

The exhibits are of such historical importantce that staff will be given extra training so they know how to properly care for the items.

When the exhibitions open talks, tours and viewings will be offered to groups such as clubs, schools, universities and researchers.