Pub safety fears disrupt town museum reopening

The Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life. Picture: Ian Burt

The Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The return of a town’s museum was “disrupted” by fears about the safety of a neighbouring pub.  

The Ancient House Museum, in Thetford, has remained closed since March 2020 due to its tight layout, which made reopening to the general public during the pandemic more difficult. 

In a recent report it was revealed that the museum, which had planned to provide a “safe return” for school groups and the Teenage History Club in December, was disrupted by work taking place on the former King’s Head pub next door. 

The former King's Head pub in Thetford.

The former King's Head pub in Thetford. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

In the Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life Report, published by Breckland Council, it stated: “The owner of the King’s Head, a listed building next door to the Ancient House,  started building works in November to prepare the property for conversion to residential use.  

“Museum staff undertaking regular site maintenance checks raised concerns on November 19 about the effects on the Ancient House of this work.  

“The museum team was in contact with the owner to express concerns and contact was also made with Breckland District Council.  

“Following public safety concerns about these building works, White Hart Street was closed and scaffolding erected to support the King’s Head structure.” 

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On December 4, police were called following concerns about the "structural stability" of the building. 

The area was evacuated and cordons put in place. 

The report added: “The impact of these building works caused disruption to the museum’s plans to provide a safe return of school groups and the Teenage History Club in December and has taken up a significant amount of staff time.  

“The museum will require a careful conservation clean, involving the hire of a scaffold tower and the employment of specialist technicians.” 

A spokesman from Norfolk County Council, which runs the museum, said: “The disruption caused dust to come through so it’s a case of clearing that up which shouldn’t affect any plans to reopen the museum.  

“When that will be will obviously depend on the restrictions in place as the current lockdown has all the sites across the Norfolk Museums Service closed.”