View from Thornbury District Museum

March 21 2017
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IT’S some three decades since the museum was officially opened in a former cottage in Chapel Street, with a collection of items of local historical interest that had been amassed by Oldbury-on-Severn resident Mary Bruton at its core.

Over the years, the collection has expanded, thanks to the interest and generosity of the community it serves.

Here, those involved in running the museum have contributed to an explanation of its own history in the first feature about the town, its people and the surrounding area that Thornbury Voice will carry.

THORNBURY and District Heritage Trust was formed in 1986 with a singular purpose - to create a museum for Thornbury and the parishes in the lower Severn vale.

Thornbury and District Museum was formally opened by the then mayor of the town, Don Pearce, in October 1988 but by that time, exhibitions for public enjoyment and education had been taking place for nearly two years.

A collection of items formed the first exhibition, held in November 1986. Mary Bruton, of Oldbury-on-Severn, a key member of the Thornbury Historical Society, had bequeathed a quantity of pictures and documents to the organisation.

However, the society had no premises in which to display them so two rooms in the Chapel Street Workshop were temporarily called into service.

Such was the enthusiasm for the presentation about the life of Miss Bruton that 400 visitors were attracted to the display during three days.

The museum developed in subsequent years but that first exhibition was never forgotten, resulting in it being celebrated when the museum reached its landmark silver jubilee.

It featured 25 artefacts, including an 1885 Victorian curiosity box containing part of the Littleton whale - the 68ftlong creature that was stranded at nearby Littleton-on-Severn in that year.

The museum is nationally accredited and run entirely by volunteers, who have recognised the dedication of all those who have helped in the past and those who continue to give their time now.

The trust said financial support from sources such as local councils and the Friends of Thornbury and District Museum also played a vital role.

It is an ambition to ultimately have bigger premises for the museum in order to secure Thornbury’s local history and heritage for the future.

But in the meantime, it continues to work to professional standards, look after its collection and provide a friendly museum service to the public, including running a museum shop.

New volunteers with a variety of skills are also always welcome to join the team.

The museum is open from 1pm-4pm from Tuesdays to Fridays and from 10am-4pm on Saturdays. It is closed each January.

Information and photograph courtesy of Thornbury and District Museum.