Museum's quest for centre gathers pace

PUBLISHED: 14:24 09 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:59 31 May 2010

Documentation and exhibitions officer Sarah Wilson with some of the garments on show at the museum - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Documentation and exhibitions officer Sarah Wilson with some of the garments on show at the museum - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

PLANS for Saffron Walden Museum s new Heritage Quest Centre are gathering pace, with £85,000 of funding already secured. The 170-year-old museum is desperately in need of extra space to house its myriad exhibits, and the resource centre that will be built

PLANS for Saffron Walden Museum's new Heritage Quest Centre are gathering pace, with £85,000 of funding already secured.

The 170-year-old museum is desperately in need of extra space to house its myriad exhibits, and the resource centre that will be built on Thaxted Road will provide these artefacts with a home.

Museum curator Carolyn Wingfield said: "Our planning permission is secured and we're now entering the final stages of the fundraising project.

"We've been extremely pleased with the broad base of support that the project has received and our fundraising activities have been very successful.

"There's still lots of planning to be done - we need to generate more than £1 million to get the centre up and running, some of which will be used for staffing and to fund outreach projects.

"The timetable depends on our applications for funding, but if all goes well we hope to begin construction within a year.

The museum will apply for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in the hope of making up half the funding, but needs to generate around £500,000 from other sources.

So far, BAA has provided £32,000, the Saffron Walden Museum Society £10,000 and £3000 has come from fundraising events.

Various trusts, funds, clubs and councils have also helped boost the total, including a particularly significant £12,000 from the Essex County Council Community Initiative Fund.

It is hoped that two substantial landfill tax grants, from Biffa and Viridor Credits, will bring in at least another £100,000.

Forthcoming fundraising events should also help with the project, explained the museum's Maureen Evans.

"In the New Year, we're planning to hold a concert entitled 'The Angel, the Serpent and the Iron Cello'", she said.

"The iron cello is an instrument that we hold in our collection that was made by a blacksmith in Wimbish during the 19th century.

"Following that, there will be a woodland wildlife walk in the spring, when we will have a look at next year's oxslips."

Life at the museum goes on in the meantime - the "Living Costume" exhibition began this week and a cutting-edge exhibition named "Blades" will launch in January, looking at

the history of sharp-edged implements including everything from swords and knives to scissors and pasty cutters.

The Heritage Quest Centre was named in a Reporter competition last summer. Great Sampford resident Gloria Hills picked up a "pot of gold" full of pound coins for coming up with the title.

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