Wisbech and Fenland Museum awarded repair grant as they seek more volunteers to keep the historic building alive

New volunteer Judith Williamson at Wisbech and Fenland Museum - which has just been awarded more tha

New volunteer Judith Williamson at Wisbech and Fenland Museum - which has just been awarded more than £40,000 for a grant - Credit: Archant

More than £40,000 has been awarded to Wisbech and Fenland Museum for essential repairs to the historic building - as town council bosses announce they will also boost their annual grant.

A group of volunteers at Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

A group of volunteers at Wisbech and Fenland Museum. - Credit: Archant

The venue, which is one of the UK’s oldest purpose-built museums, feared it would not survive after Fenland District Council withdrew its funding.

But a bold 12-month rescue plan funded by the Heritage Lottery from last April, has won £42,750 support from Historic England towards getting further grants for essential roof repairs to the 1847 building.

It comes as Wisbech Town Council has upped its annual grant to £20,000.

The Fitzwilliam Museum has also stepped in with a partnership deal aimed at “beefing up the museum’s ability to generate income as well as its contribution to the cultural heritage of Cambridgeshire.”

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Bosses at the attraction in Museum Square say they now need more volunteers of all ages to “keep the building alive.”

Assistant curator, Robert Bell, explained: “Staff were cut right back and we could not have continued to operate without our fantastic volunteers. As long as we stay open with their help the development work put in hand last year can continue to bear fruit.”

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Museum volunteers co-ordinator Sarah Coleman, said: “If you can spare a few hours every week, or once a month, we’d love to hear from you.

“It’s a great place to volunteer - where else could you see Thomas Clarkson’s anti-slavery chest, Dickens’ manuscript of Great Expectations and Napoleon’s breakfast set alongside a mummy’s hand?’

New volunteer Judith Williamson said: “It’s a fabulous museum, with so many different aspects to it, like a mini British Museum but on our doorstep.’ While Sara Hawkes added: “It’s fun, interesting and you’re always learning new things.”

It was announced last year that Fenland District Council would be withdrawing its funding with a final payment of £70,000 towards running costs.

It houses an eclectic collection of intriguing items including the original manuscript of Dickens’ Great Expectations bequeathed to the trustees in 1869 by the Rev Chauncy Hare Townshend.

For more information on the museum, which is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm, call 01945 583817 or email info@wisbechmuseum.org.uk

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