Friday, 26 August 2011

News - Founder of Traditional Heritage Museum says site could close for good (Sheffield)

SHEFFIELD’S ‘secret museum’ is facing permanent closure – because it could cost £500,000 to repair the former church hall in which it is based.

Traditional Heritage Museum founder Professor John Widdowson believes a formal announcement by its owner Sheffield University will come soon.

The museum, run by volunteers and students, has been closed since February because of health and safety issues.

Based in the former hall of Endcliffe Methodist Church on Ecclesall Road, it features a variety of displays representing Sheffield from past decades.

“The cost to repair the building will be substantial at a time when the university is seriously strapped for cash,” Prof Widdowson said.

“But this is a unique resource and is one of the few examples of a facility where the university interacts with the people of Sheffield.

“The university owns the important collections inside which span the years from 1850 to 1970, and if they are split up then the integrity of the collection as a whole will be lost.”

The museum was created by Prof Widdowson in 1964 and moved into its present building in 1977, a church hall first built in 1928.

“There are obvious problems with the hall – we had trouble with the heating last year and that was before the awful snow in December,” the professor said.

“After that we suffered from burst pipes and flooding, and a subsequent survey found asbestos in the boiler room and basement. The university has spent £30,000 on repairs in recent times so their commitment has been there.”

Prof Widdowson said little thought seemed to have been given to whether the repair work could be carried out in phases to better manage the cost.

He added: “It could be that launching some sort of appeal for sponsorship or support could be the only way forward,” he added.

The museum has a variety of walk-through displays, including a replica kitchen from the 1920s and recreations of a variety of Sheffield shops, such as Pollard’s tea and coffee and Renwick’s Basketmakers.

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