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Norfolk's only museum dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson to close

PUBLISHED: 16:10 25 July 2019

The Nelson Museum on South Quay in Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

The Nelson Museum on South Quay in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2013

The only museum devoted entirely to arguably Norfolk's greatest hero is set to close down at the end of the year.

The Duke of Edinburgh opens the Nelson Museum in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Bill DarnellThe Duke of Edinburgh opens the Nelson Museum in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Bill Darnell

The Norfolk Nelson Museum, on South Quay in Great Yarmouth, is a private collection of memorabilia dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson, which has been on display in the town since 2002.

However, after seeing declining visitor numbers and removal of council funding, the decision has been made to close to museum down and place the collection into storage.

Noel Bartram, chairman of the trustees of the Nelson Museum, said: "After 17 years in Great Yarmouth, it is with sadness that we announce the closure of the Nelson Memorabilia Collection's current home in South Quay at the end of this year's season.

"For many museums, whether funded privately or through the public purse, it has been an increasing challenge to maintain the status quo.

The Norfolk Nelson Museum in Yarmouth has unveiled two new exhibition rooms.The Norfolk Nelson Museum in Yarmouth has unveiled two new exhibition rooms.

"The private funds originally made available, to make provision for the Nelson Collection, have been exhausted."

The museum was founded in 2002 following extensive fundraising efforts and in the past few years has also been supported by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

However, this funding has since been put to a stop and with visitor numbers also in decline, Mr Bartram said the decision had to be reached.

He said: "The trustees wish to specifically thank GYBC for the financial support it has received.

"Most importantly of all, we wish to thank the curators, both past and present, and the many loyal volunteers of the years for their time and hard work in keeping the museum and inviting place to visit; without them there would never have been a museum in the first place."

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The museum is earmarked to close at the end of October, with the collection set to go into specialist storage until a suitable alternative can be found in the future.

Mr Bartram added: "Sadly, the cost of running the museum is expensive and as a privately-funded museum the money has to come from somewhere.

"Unfortunately, we are where we are. However, in this day and age it's increasingly challenging for traditional museums to survive."

History of the museum

The Norfolk Nelson Museum was founded in 2002, following a fundraising campaign to bring the vision to life.

It was opened by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, bringing a member of the royal family on official duties to Great Yarmouth for the first time since 1985.

The collection is largely made up of items owned by Ben Burgess, founder of the machinery firm of the same name, though he died two years before its opening.

It comprises of more than 2,000 items, including original letters penned by the Lord Admiral, an oil painting of him and other commemorative material.

It was threatened with closure before in 2012, with museum bosses contemplating moving the collection to the west of the county.

However, a five-year rescue package was thrashed out to keep it in Great Yarmouth.

Now though, its owners have now decided to close to museum, with the collection due to be held in storage until a "sustainable solution" is found.

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