Town’s heritage centre to remain closed until 2021

PUBLISHED: 13:38 25 August 2020

Discover Downham Market is situated in the old fire station on Priory Road, Photo: Emily Prince

Discover Downham Market is situated in the old fire station on Priory Road, Photo: Emily Prince

Emily Prince

A Norfolk heritage centre will remain closed until 2021 for the safety of its team and the site’s future viability.

The trustees at Discover Downham Heritage Centre “reluctantly” made the decision to keep the building shut for the rest of the year after feeling they had to take a “cautious approach” for their volunteers who are mainly over 60.

It is also hoped the continued closure will help reduce costs, which trustees believe will not be met if the centre reopens at this stage.

The site will not be open to visitors or for room hire until January 2021 at the earliest.

A spokesman said: “It is all the more disappointing as since opening three years ago, the wonderful team of volunteers have worked very hard, holding successful fundraisers and building up room hires to make sure the centre could be self supporting in the future.

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“However, as most of the volunteers are over 60 and many in their 70s and 80s, the trustees felt they had to take a cautious approach.

“This, coupled with the fact that with low footfall the income would be exceeded by the additional costs incurred and the centre can ill afford to lose more money.”

A small ‘bubble’ of six volunteers is meeting once a week to continue to work on displays and research is still being undertaken for a small fee.

Discover Downham is still collecting and archiving people’s memories of life in the town and the surrounding area, which will be added to a new exhibition when the centre reopens.

The spokesman added: “There have been some wonderful ones so far and some of these memories will be displayed and combined with archived photographs and artefacts already stored in the centre.”

Two calendars will be produced this year of old photographs of Downham Market and sold for £6 to help “support Discover Downham and ensure the history of the town is preserved”.

To share your memories with the centre email or post to Discover Downham, The Old Fire Station, 30 Priory Road, Downham Market, PE38 9JS.

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