A battle to save Norfolk’s only museum dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson is under way, after falling visitor numbers left it in dire financial straits.

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Museum bosses wanted to move the entire collection from Great Yarmouth’s Nelson Museum to west Norfolk, and it was within days of closure this summer it has emerged.

But when council chiefs heard about the historic attraction’s plight, a rescue package was made a top priority.

And people are being urged to vote with their feet if they want the riverside museum to stay - helping to drive up visitor numbers and preserve the resort’s reputation as a heritage destination.

Trevor Wainwright, council leader, said: “When we took control in May I was called to a meeting with the trustees and they said they were going to close the museum and move to somewhere in the west.

“We found out on a Tuesday, and they were going to close on Friday.

“Being a maritime borough, with the connection to Nelson, we didn’t want to lose the museum from Great Yarmouth.”

He explained that the museum’s budget is based on around 8,000 visitors per year, but just 3,000 passed through its doors last year.

“They’re struggling with visitor numbers which is having an impact on their cash flow,” he added.

And he persuaded trustees that they would help them “make it work”.

“We’re just looking to finalise an agreement with the trustees of the museum to work with them to stabilise the future of the Nelson Museum,” added Mr Wainwright. “We’re looking at working with current trustees and the curator and anybody involved with the museum to help them, as a borough council, to increase visitor numbers.

“We’re looking at helping to promote it and helping to make it remain viable.”

The museum was opened in South Quay in 2002 by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The 2,000 item collection originated from the private collection of Ben Burgess, the late founder of Ben Burgess Agricultural.

It contains original material including letters by Nelson, papers written by Nelson’s protege Captain Sir William Hoste and his brother-in-law George Matcham.

And museum volunteers are determined that the collection stays in Yarmouth, with its many links to Nelson.

Nelson ward councillor Kerry Robinson-Payne, who is also a volunteer at the Nelson Museum, said: “We’ve lost the Jetty already and Nelson has a very important history with Yarmouth.

“He was such a national hero in his day and we want to promote what he did.

“We might not be here today without him.”

She and fellow Nelson ward councillor Michael Jeal were appointed to the Nelson Museums Management Board at the last full council meeting, aiming to help the museum.

The Jetty - believed to date back to the 1560s - was demolished in January 2012 as the council deemed repair work too expensive.

Nelson had landed at the jetty in 1800 after the Battle of the Nile and in 1801 and set sail from it with the fleet to the Battle of Copenhagen.

He disembarked there after the battle to visit the wounded at the Naval Hospital in Yarmouth.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the fleet was also frequently assembled in Yarmouth’s sheltered waters.

Mr Wainwright added: “There may be other things we can do.

“As a borough council we thought it was important to give it our best shot to keep it open.

“With close working with the museum and with anybody else with an interest we hope to increase numbers to make it viable.”

Details of the rescue package for the Nelson Museum will be printed when they have been agreed.

19 comments

  • According to the councils own brochure the town receives 5 million visitors each year if this musuem cannot attract one tenth of one percent of these then I'm inclined to think it's not fit for purpose and spend the money on something many more people will visit like toilets.

    Report this comment

    ThePresence

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • I have got to admit that I have only been to the museum once, because the content never changes I don't find it necessary to go again, the same with the Elizabethan museum, been once but no need to go again because it will all be the same. I won't pay to go somewhere and see the same stuff over and over again.

    Report this comment

    Spooky

    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • The reality of GY is the less people come here ... To holiday or shop... With the low standard of shops just breed contempt for GY?.. And people go elsewhere, even GY residents go to Norwich for better quality shopping..... Moving the museum to the seafront may have a seasonal benefit, but the season has now shrunk to a 6 week main holiday period ... It was 12 weeks 40 years ago.. time proves the loss of interest in GY. In less visitors and businesses in the town centre.. Even market stalls are reducing..... If the museum goes if will follow the general trend in .GY and other places in the uk....how GY will look in 10 years time is an open question if the downward trend continues... and Internet sales close many more shopping outlets in coming years.. A flood of 99p type shops do not bring visitors as they have them back home... A sad reflection of how things are going... As spending power reduces yearly... All mainly due to the unregulated banking crisis damage that will be with us for many years...

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • I agree with Paul-to re locate closer to Norfolk Museum Service Time and Tide would be a good option. The best place would be in Norwich Castle instead of their display of teapots-but I would understand a private collection wanting to stay well away from Trevelyan.The site on the quay is not easily accessible and despite the nonsense about tree lined St Georges Road and Yarmouth Way , it is not a very pleasant walk from the sea front. St Peters Road is no better -like negotiating a back street in inner London.Apart from the Tolhouse Museum, ( which has a limited opening season) the Elizabethan House and the Lydia Eva there is little else on the quay Not quite sure where else they would get 8000 visitors though.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • One must look at reality,  gone are the days of 3 theatres and a 12 week season... You cannot expect people coming to GY in the 3 months of May,June and July and a not theatre open or sheer lack of any evening entertainment ... Let's be honest what is there to do in the evenings in these 3 months the place is practicially dead... Amusement arcades the sad best on offer... If lack of investment the past 10 years and only a 6 week holiday season to servive on ... Then you cannot expect investment or encourage the people to come here... The seafront improvement is good, but if little is open 45 weeks of the year and that is not put in the GY holiday brochure and parking is a nightmare in the 6 week season.. That puts locals and day trippers off coming into town... As for 5 million visitors per year most probably stay in the holiday camps ... And over what amount of months ..? May to October is 25 weeks an average of 14 thousand people a day based on 5 million ... If 5 million did come here and spent just £20 pound each that would be £100 million spent.. Small fry to such a major east coast resort ... You can put any figures you like that fact is GY is a shadow of its former self.. Crowds shoulder to shoulder in the 60s  will never be repeated... Times have change over the past 10 years and the shopping culture change of people will have profound change to city centres... After Xmas will see many businesses go to the wall or reduced profits the museum will suffer accordingly and people's Interests change as well.... Any loss is sad but life goes on .. 

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Monday, December 17, 2012

  • I love Yarmouth but it is a mixed-up place. Bad planning and poor investment have spoilt bits but other parts are being reinvigorated. I think most people who visit probably don't care too much about the Lord Nelson unless its a pub. I'm sure the museum would thrive in Norwich.

    Report this comment

    oldowl

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • Tis a fact.. that Nelson Mandela, is a bigger attraction amongst newbie Brits and the great brainwashed masses.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • Would have been ideally placed close to the Jetty if we still had it.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • I think the lack of visitor numbers are a consequence of the venue's marketing (or lack of it). We visit for at least one week every year and have never heard of this musuem. Sorry you only have yourselves to blame - time to move on

    Report this comment

    Gorleston-Ex-Pat

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

  • I have got to admit that I have only been to the museum once, because the content never changes I don't find it necessary to go again, the same with the Elizabethan museum, been once but no need to go again because it will all be the same. I won't pay go somewhere and see the same stuff over and over again.

    Report this comment

    Spooky

    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • Isn't it possible that to save the Museum it would be a better idea to move it closer to the seafront, that is where the tourists will be and that it where I think both the Nelson and the Elizabethan Museums should be re-located to, then more people will go to see them, not everyone is capable of walking the streets to find them, put the museums somewhere between the seafront and the town centre, now here's a thought, how about spliting the old Co-op store into two and housing them in there.

    Report this comment

    Spooky

    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • Instaed of the Council spending all that money on I Pads and Tablets they could have put the money into the Musem. It is no wonder we do not get many visitors now just look at the town centre nothing but Charity shops and 99p stores.

    Report this comment

    Dave

    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • Co locate with Time and Tide for a complete GY experience, or have less static museum, by creating someting a little more lively, costumed events, anything just use some imgaination.

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • One must look at reality,  gone are the days of 3 theatres and a 12 week season... You cannot expect people coming to GY in the 3 months of May,June and July and a not theatre open or sheer lack of any evening entertainment ... Let's be honest what is there to do in the evenings in these 3 months the place is practicially dead... Amusement arcades the sad best on offer... If lack of investment the past 10 years and only a 6 week holiday season to servive on ... Then you cannot expect investment or encourage the people to come here... The seafront improvement is good, but if little is open 45 weeks of the year and that is not put in the GY holiday brochure and parking is a nightmare in the 6 week season.. That puts locals and day trippers off coming into town... As for 5 million visitors per year most probably stay in the holiday camps ... And over what amount of months ..? May to October is 25 weeks an average of 14 thousand people a day based on 5 million ... If 5 million did come here and spent just £20 pound each that would be £100 million spent.. Small fry to such a major east coast resort ... You can put any figures you like that fact is GY is a shadow of its former self.. Crowds shoulder to shoulder in the 60s  will never be repeated... Times have change over the past 10 years and the shopping culture change of people will have profound change to city centres... After Xmas will see many businesses go to the wall or reduced profits the museum will suffer accordingly and people's Interests change as well.... Any loss is sad but life goes on .. 

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Monday, December 17, 2012

  • One must look at reality, gone are the days of 3 theatres and a 12 week season... You cannot expect people coming to GY in the 3 months of May,June and July and a not theatre open or sheer lack of any evening entertainment ... Let's be honest what is there to do in the evenings in these 3 months the place is practicially dead... Amusement arcades the sad best on offer... If lack of investment the past 10 years and only a 6 week holiday season to servive on ... Then you cannot expect investment or encourage the people to come here... The seafront improvement is good, but if little is open 45 weeks of the year and that is not put in the GY holiday brochure and parking is a nightmare in the 6 week season.. That puts locals and day trippers off coming into town... As for 5 million visitors per year most probably stay in the holiday camps ... And over what amount of months ..? May to October is 25 weeks an average of 14 thousand people a day based on 5 million ... If 5 million did come here and spent just £20 pound each that would be £100 million spent.. Small fry to such a major east coast resort ... You can put any figures you like that fact is GY is a shadow of its former self.. Crowds shoulder to shoulder in the 60s will never be repeated... Times have change over the past 10 years and the shopping culture change of people will have profound change to city centres... After Xmas will see many businesses go to the wall or reduced profits the museum will suffer accordingly and people's Interests change as well.... Any loss is sad but life goes on ..

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • The shrinking holiday season must be something that affects all traditional resorts. The reason is of course the government's insistence that taking children out of school during term time permanently damages their education. Heads have to comply and families risk having their child excluded if they fail to prove they cannot take their holidays at any other time. This rule of course applies only to those who attend run of the mill state schools-not those who educate privately or not at all because they escape prosecution on the grounds of their "traditional" lifestyle. The result is that places like GY which aim at the bottom end of the seaside holiday trade are left with families of preschoolers and older people outside the main season. Unless they shift their game to appeal to the latter in the way that more affluent resorts are able to do, by adding and keeping attractions open much longer, then the holiday industry in GY trumpeted as the saviour of the town, and the recipient of £££s of funding can't continue to contribute to the town's economy in the way it did. What active retired person with a bit of money to spend is going to come to GY in late September when there isn't even a decent shopping centre? If they come with one of the coach based holidays and spend much of their time within an hotel or a proposed casino not much of their spending will get passed down. And let's face it, the people who come on holiday at the chav end of the market which GY has foisted on it by the business plans of the tourist industry are not going to be interested in museums.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • Grot, Yarmite, call it what you will, dear old Yarmouth is a run down, uninspiring place. The town did once have an excellent maritime museum on the front, presumably that didn't pay so why should relocating the Nelson museum there be any more successful?

    Report this comment

    peter waller

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Shock horror, everyone wants to leave Great Yarmouth given the chance to do so !

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • Leave..bye bye. Next

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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