Fire escape plan hopes to reveal more of Norfolk museum’s secretive past

The re-opening of the Radar Museum at Neatishead.; new manager Chris Morshead; photo Adrian Judd

The re-opening of the Radar Museum at Neatishead.; new manager Chris Morshead; photo Adrian Judd - Credit: Adrian Judd

Volunteers at a north Norfolk museum are hoping to reveal more of the award-winning attraction to visitors – by installing a new fire escape.

The top floor of the RAF Air Defence Radar Museum at Neatishead is currently out of bounds to visitors and staff are 'essentially' banned from going up there, for fear they would not be able to safely get down its vertical ladder fire escape in an emergency.

Plans have now been submitted to install a gentler, stepped escape, that could accommodate the museum's volunteers – many of whom are in their 70s and 80s – and its older visitors, which in turn would open up the top floor.

Chris Morshead, manager and curator at the museum, said: 'Although the old fire escape is in place, because of the age of the people that work at the museum, and also visitors, to come down a vertical ladder is not ideal. I'm just concerned if we did have an incident people wouldn't be able to get down safely.

'We have got a conference room upstairs, which unfortunately we can't use, but once we have got the new fire escape we'll be able to open up that facility for local businesses.'

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Mr Morshead said the top floor made up around a fifth of the museum and opening it for use would create an extra asset for the attraction.

The fire escape plan has been put into action after volunteers bought the museum site from the Ministry of Defence last year.

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And with support from the Museum Friends group, they have also been able to start re-rendering the outside of the building, to preserve it for future generations.

'Since taking ownership we're moving forward now in leaps and bounds,' Mr Morshead added. The museum is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and bank holidays from April to October, and so far 2013 is proving to be a success for the historic attraction. Mr Morshead said the start of the season had been 'very good', with Easter a particular highlight, attracting a third more visitors than last year.

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