Sheringham Museum volunteers’ delight after grant boost
Visitors to a seaside museum will be able to enjoy a revamped all-year round attraction from next Easter following a cash windfall.
The Mo Sheringham Museum on Lifeboat Plain has been awarded nearly £1.1m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its three-year Atlantic 75 Seaside Education and Archive Centre project.
Money from the HLF will pay for a roof extension on the museum to create a permanent home for the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, which served the town from 1994-2007.
The vessel, currently in a Norfolk barn, was the first Atlantic 75 in operation for the RNLI across the country.
Museum manager Philip Miles said: 'It will be a new look museum on the prom for Easter. We are absolutely delighted. It has been nearly three years of hard work spent on this project and to get the go-ahead is fantastic.'
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As well as a new home for the boat, the extension will include an education room with space for more than 100 people and exhibits, an archive and research room to display treasured museum items and a balcony facing the North Sea.
Work on the extension, which has planning permission, will start this October, after the museum closes to visitors, and should be completed by Easter when the attraction reopens.
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The museum also received between £60,000 and £70,000 of grant funding from Arts Council England for the project but needs to raise £45,000 before this October to complete the fundraising.
'To know we have got the majority of the money is a huge comfort to us,' Mr Miles added.
The new permanent home for the Atlantic 75 lifeboat means the museum will house four historic lifeboats, which served the town dating back more than 100 years.
They include the JC Madge, which ran 1904-36, the Foresters' Centenary, which ran from 1936-61, and the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows which ran from 1961-90.
It will also allow more of the museum's 15,000 pieces to be on show, including a cannon from China or Malaysia and an anchor both dating back to the 1800s found off the Sheringham coast.
The main education room will be available to all groups all-year round, visiting exhibitions and the research rooms can be used by anyone from families researching their ancestors to experts who want to write books on maritime and social history.
Mr Miles said: 'The money will help with lots of exciting activities. We will have the space to put on exhibitions to engage with schools who will be able to use it in the winter.
'For the first time the museum will be an all-season space.'
He hoped the education room could deliver bespoke workshops and the extension and would help treble numbers of visiting school children over the next three years to the museum.
It currently has 20,000 visitors a year, including 1,500 school pupils.
The HLF money will also pay for three year-long placements for University of East Anglia cultural, heritage and museum studies students, as well as an apprenticeship at the museum for a 16-25-year-old from Great Yarmouth College.
Main roles for the university students and apprentices will be running the building and exhibitions.
Mr Miles said the extra space would generate money for the museum beyond the next three years.
'This is not just a three-year project. This will transform the museum,' he added.
Mr Miles said the improvements would help boost visitors to Sheringham and protect the town's heritage.
Call 01263 824482 or visit www.sheringhammuseum.co.uk to donate.