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Museum fears for future as coronavirus lockdown hits Easter hopes

PUBLISHED: 14:48 13 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:02 13 April 2020

Alastair Baker, Bressingham Steam Museum
. Byline: Sonya Duncan

Alastair Baker, Bressingham Steam Museum . Byline: Sonya Duncan

A heritage railway museum’s bosses say they fear it may have to close as it misses out on essential Easter footfall due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Fire Engine Rally at Bressingham Steam Museum. Photo: Bressingham Steam MuseumFire Engine Rally at Bressingham Steam Museum. Photo: Bressingham Steam Museum

Following the winter closure, 59-year-old Bressingham Steam Museum, near Diss, looks to the Easter bank holiday weekend to kickstart fund-raising to put back into the charity.

Alastair Baker, 50, has been at the museum for more than 30 years.

The manager said: “Like most tourism places we invested over the winter, in repairs, maintenance, track work and so on.

“We rely on Easter as our first income, cash flow after our closed period to put some money back into the bank. We are a charity, we plough any profits back into the business. We may be asset rich, which as a museum we can’t touch, but cash poor, especially at this time of year.”

Alan Bloom, enjoying his pipe on the footplate of the Gwynedd on the Nursery line at Bressingham Steam Museum in the 1960s. Picture: B AdamsAlan Bloom, enjoying his pipe on the footplate of the Gwynedd on the Nursery line at Bressingham Steam Museum in the 1960s. Picture: B Adams

Because of the size of the museum it is unable to apply for a leisure grant from central government. But the charity will be able to apply to the Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund when these become available.

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“We still have bills to pay, even though the site is mothballed,” Mr Baker added.

“Depending on when this ends [the lockdown] has a huge impact on if we can open, and in what form. Like every business we furloughed staff and we have no idea what happens from June 1.

Alastair Baker when he first started at the Bressingham Steam Museum. Picture: Alastair BakerAlastair Baker when he first started at the Bressingham Steam Museum. Picture: Alastair Baker

“If we have to close it will be devastating for those who given so much of their passion over the last 59 years. The staff and volunteers here are a family, people give their time because they want to.

“We will have to decide, when we run out of money. The charity has the make the decision if they are able to risk the debt of a Covid loan, if that is the only source of funding available.

“Keeping steam alive is something you do as a passion, not for profit - it is an expensive business.

“We have a huge positive impact on our volunteers mental health, we are somewhere to get out of the house to, somewhere to meet up with mates, something to do rather than just sit at home - I fear for the mental health of our volunteers already.

Galloper at Bressingham Steam Museum. Picture: Lou HinesGalloper at Bressingham Steam Museum. Picture: Lou Hines

“We are often visited by three generations of a family at once. We humbly feel we would be a loss to many families who have grown up with us, visited as a grandchild, and now a grandparent themselves.”

For more information or to donate go to www.bressingham.co.uk


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