‘Use it or lose it’ plea to save Wymondham Heritage Museum from closure

A Norfolk museum's committee is warning that the facility, which boasts artefacts dating back to Kett's Rebellion in the 16th century, could have to close unless it can attract more visitors to boost income.

The Wymondham Heritage Museum has issued a 'use it or lose it' plea to the town's residents as the committee only has enough revenue to keep the museum running in the town's Bridewell until October 2014.

Arthur (Pip) Woodward, the committee's chairman, said the cost of maintaining the museum in the Grade II listed 19th century building had resulted in a �7,000 shortfall each year, which could only be met by an increase in visitors from the 2,500 who visited the museum in 2011.

He added: 'Being realistic, it is important, but it is not critical yet that we have the money because we do have until 2014 to get the problem corrected.'

However, the future of the Bridewell itself, which used to house the town's prison, is not in danger as the building is owned by the Bridewell Preservation Trust, which leases part of the building for the museum as well as a Red Cross shop and flats.

The committee, affiliated to the Wymondham Heritage Society, receives income through museum entrance fees, the museum shop and tea room, but figures show that in 2011 the total income from the museum was �4,100 while overheads were about �12,000, resulting in the annual shortfall figure.

Currently, the society has �30,000 in funds available to the museum, which is run by volunteers, but if the annual shortfalls continue this revenue stream will have dried up by 2015.

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One option, Mr Woodward said, was to seek grant funding, but the committee would have to go through a bidding process and cash was not awarded to cover the day-to-day running costs and rent payments the museum needed to cover.

The museum has displays about the world wars and brush making in the town as well as the history of the American Air Force in the area, including a display marking the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the US Eighth Air Force.

There is also a display about the history of the King's Head Meadow recreation area, which was recently at the centre of a battle over plans to build a new Asda supermarket at the site.

To help save the museum, call in at the museum, phone 01953 600205 between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday, or email Wymondham.heritage@zen.co.uk.