Thornbury Museum's future is 'seriously under threat'

July 04 2022
Thornbury Museum's future is 'seriously under threat'

VOLUNTEERS who run Thornbury's museum say its future is "seriously under threat".

The Thornbury and District Museum's home next to the Wheatsheaf in Chapel Street is owned by the Armstrong Hall Trust, along with the neighbouring Armstrong and Cossham halls.

While the museum recently reopened, both halls are closed indefinitely and the trustees are in discussions with South Gloucestershire Council about what to do with the site, after deciding the cost of repairs to reopen them after the pandemic was prohibitive.

The museum's trustees say they are concerned that, when their tenancy agreement with the trust expires next November they may not be able to extend it.

The museum trustees said: "The museum could be left without a home, endangering the entire collection and its service to the community. 

"Museum trustees have been exploring a number of options which could provide the necessary components for a replacement and viable museum and heritage facility and service.  However, Thornbury has few public buildings with any available space which might be of use, and as a charity, the overriding problem is the cost of renting elsewhere."

The museum is free to enter and the entire organisation is run by volunteers, with grant funding from councils and a "modest income" the trustees can generate. 

They say there is "currently no prospect of an affordable alternative site being found".

The museum needs space both for its regularly changing exhibitions and the storing parts of its historic collection not currently on display.

The trustees say the museum is well loved by residents and its team of "dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers", and attracts tourists, supports schools and people researching family history.

Volunteers also undertake local historical and archaeological research and regularly publish books, booklets and leaflets, as well as and preparing presentations for the public.

They said: "If the museum is forced to close, the entire heritage record of Thornbury and the surrounding area could no longer be available to the community.  An important local collection of artefacts, documents and photographs would be lost to the local area, possibly relocated to more distant museums or even dispersed to any home which would take them."

The trustees are appealing to residents, businesses and organisations to show their support for the museum by writing to Thornbury town and South Gloucestershire councillors, and by emailing messages of support and offers of help or expertise to or writing to Thornbury and District Heritage Trust c/o The Town Hall, 35 High Street, Thornbury, BS35 2AR.

The Armstrong Hall Trust said in May that there will be consultation on the future of the complex before a final decision is taken on its future.

Picture: Volunteers outside the Thornbury and District Museum