North Runcton celebrates opening of what may be Norfolk's smallest art gallery and museum
PUBLISHED: 16:10 26 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:10 26 November 2017
They have been transformed into community libraries and places to house a defibrillator.
But one West Norfolk village has found a different use for their red phone box - an art gallery and museum.
And residents in North Runcton, close to King’s Lynn, believe it may well be the smallest facility of its kind in the county.
With a thriving art club and an interesting village history, parish council chairman Richard Morrish said it made sense to covert the iconic 1940s telephone kiosk.
“We discussed a lot of ideas but we have a fine art group that use the Village Meeting Place,” he said. “They kindly offered to look after it and we thought it would be great if they could use it to display their work.”
He added: “I don’t know anyone else who has turned one into an art gallery or museum.”
Artwork from members of North Runcton Art Club will curate the exhibitions which will be displayed in the phone box for a set period of time.
The honours of the first exhibition went to local water colourist Austin Pearce.
Denise Coles, the club’s organiser, said: “People are chomping at the bit to get their things in the box.
“Austin is our very well-known and established artist and it was only right that his work goes first.”
Councillor Carol Baowers, the Mayor of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, was present for its official opening on Saturday.
She was presented with painting to by Mr Pearce by Ms Coles to mark the occasion.
In speech to the crowd of residents who turned up to celebrate the event Ms Coles said in jest: “What other group is there in Norfolk let alone the rest of the country that has its own art gallery?
“ I think North Runcton can really be said to be showing King’s Lynn the way forward.”
The museum has three boards about the history of the village, which was recorded by the name of Runghetuna and Rynghetona in the Domesday book.
Among them is the information about All Saints Church, which is one of only two Georgian churches in the county. And the Gurney family who’s bank merged into Barclays in the late 1800s.
The community was also celebrating the official reopening of the Village Meeting Place following extensive refurbishment works.
Around £130,000 has been spent on the centre, including a new kitchen, new roof, enlarged lobby, a new heating system and disabled access.
The meeting place is central to the community and is used by Buttercups Play Group, the art group and other organisations.
Mr Morrish said: “It is a very important place for us. It is used seven days a week.”
Residents raised £25,000 to help towards the cost of the works with donations also coming from Norfolk Community Foundation, Greenyard Frozen. A grant of £50,000 from WREN’s FCC Community Action Fund was also awarded.
The building was the former village school from 1863 until 1985. Actor Sir Michael Caine made his first stage appearances there are a wartime evacuee between 1940 and 1944.