Leiston: Long Shop Museum bosses pledge to continue restoration plans ahead of annual open day

The Long Shop Museum in Leiston is gearing up for its annual open day on March 23

The Long Shop Museum in Leiston is gearing up for its annual open day on March 23

MUSEUM chiefs have vowed to continue with a major restoration project despite missing out on funding.

The Long Shop in Leiston had applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a financial contribution towards the scheme. Despite that being rejected bosses say they are encouraged by the support already pledged and will continue to work towards their end goal and create an attraction for the 21st century.

Anna Mercer, visitor services officer at the museum, said: “Although the trustees and supporters were disappointed not to gain support from the HLF for the second stage, they have been encouraged by the financial support already pledged by both local authorities and private and charitable donors. The museum will continue working towards the blueprint for the future, created during stage one of the restoration project, and hopes to re-apply for capital support in the future. In the meantime the museum is taking steps to make the Long Shop ‘fit for the future’ by strengthening its organisation and financial planning – including a smaller application to HLF to support this work.”

The proposed scheme includes significant restoration work, improvements to the roof, better disabled access, a new lift and a revamp of exhibits. It will also create an important outreach and participation programme that will generate opportunities for people to become actively engaged in the museum. The Grade II*-listed Long Shop was the first purpose-built flow line assembly hall for portable steam engines in the world and is an important site of industrial heritage.

Thanks to a grant from Suffolk Coastal District Council and support from the SHARE Museums East programme the museum is hoping to increase its appeal to families this year and develop opportunities for volunteers. Various projects are already in hand, including building a working model of the museum’s 150 year old Tilley fire engine, for use on its school Victorian days.

To mark the start of the visitor season the museum is holding its free open day on Saturday, March 23 from 10am-5pm. The official opening will be carried out by High Sheriff of Suffolk, Andrew Norman-Butler, at 11am, followed by music from the Leiston Royal British Legion Band. A metal sculpture, created by Norfolk blacksmith Nigel Barnett with the help of volunteers and young people from Leiston, using old parts from the museum’s shunting engine Sirapite, will be unveiled at noon. People can also view the regular displays and take part in special activities.

Visit www.longshopmuseum.co.uk for more details.