'Let's bring the museum's mission to a fruitful end at harvest time'

PUBLISHED: 15:32 05 September 2019

Councillor Eileen Wragg.

Councillor Eileen Wragg.

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Time is short but there is hope for the Exmouth Museum appeal, writes East Devon District councillor Eileen Wragg

Early last year, after hearing the many concerns of Exmouthians and visitors to the town's much loved museum, a meeting was arranged between the chief executive and two of his senior officers, Peter Cowper of Exmouth Museum and myself.

The museum's dilemma was explained, which was that the property's owner, South West Water (SWW), intended to sell the site, as it was surplus to requirements. However, the trustees were offered first refusal to purchase the premises for £160,000, a considerable figure for a voluntary group which relies mainly on.

Although tucked away in an unadopted street, just off the town centre, our museum is highly regarded by residents through the generations, housing thousands of artefacts, documentation and visual imagery, which strikingly capture those moments in the life of our beloved town, of which much of our heritage has already been lost. The cottage in which the museum is currently housed and cared for is quirky and unique, which adds to its quaint charm.

Faced with the daunting challenge of raising the cash needed, trustees, volunteers and supporters embarked upon their mission of acquiring the amount required. They launched a hugely popular event at Ocean Bar, which gained the support of Clinton Devon Estates, with Lord Clinton and other signatories attending. So far, about a third of the £160,000 has been raised, and this is a tribute to those who have worked tirelessly, sometimes at personal cost health wise.

Despite a personal plea to SWW's owner, Pennon Group, following my long association with the company, after campaigning against unfair charging methods for customers in the 1990s, a negative response was received.

Time is now short, as the deadline for reaching the total expires this month. There is a glimmer of hope, as the first meeting with EDDC might be bearing fruit, with the possibility of a successful outcome. Talks are under way, but it is no time to be complacent, help is still desperately needed. The museum and its loyal volunteers still need our support, and this is really a last appeal, to ask for your help to bring this mission to a fruitful end at harvest time.

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