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Last chance to visit a treasure house

PUBLISHED: 07:40 12 June 2006 | UPDATED: 15:42 22 October 2010

RICHARD BATSON

A well-known Norfolk museum is set to become history itself as its owner takes the heartbreaking decision to close it at the end of the month.

A museum is to become history itself as its owner takes the heartbreaking decision to close it for good.

Sutton Mill, near Stalham, has been the home of Chris Nunn and a lifetime's collection of bygones for 30 years. But age and ill health have taken their toll on him and his partner Pam Samways, and attempts to sell the place as a museum have drawn a blank.

It will open for the last time on the weekend of June 24-25, then the "Closed" sign will go up for good at the nation's tallest windmill.

The nine-storey tower and its outbuildings hold a treasure chest of artefacts, from farm machinery to a pharmacy shop.

And Mr Nunn, 68, must decide what to do with the collections, which also include household goods, from washing dollies to video recorders, a tobacco emporium, cobbler's shop, razors, veterinary tools, even a display of funeral shrouds and coffin handles. am not even thinking about that decision yet," he said. "This has all caused me a lot of grief."

Sutton Windmill and Broads Museum had attracted about 20,000 visitors a year but had struggled to compete with other attractions, said Mr Nunn. "We have some outstand-ing collections, but times are chang-ing and there is competition from big museums benefiting from millions of pounds of investment," he explained.

The museum has been on the market for a year. "We had one or two lookers, but nothing serious," said Mr Nunn.

It has been virtually shut since the start of the season but opened by public demand at Whitsun and did well.

Failing health has also influenced Mr Nunn's decision to call it a day. "There is no point in running yourself down," he said.

Even so, there will be a final-fling open weekend before the end of the month, when the insurance runs out.

Mr Nunn took over the mill in 1976 when he and his late wife moved back to his native Norfolk.

Last year said he could not contemplate breaking up his bygones collections, which began in Berkshire in 1959 when the former atomic research engineer rescued an old washing dolly being used by a neighbour to flatten a cinder path. Mr Nunn has vowed that, whatever happens, he will keep that.

Sutton Mill is open from 10am-4.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25. More details on 01692 581195.


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