Petition used in museum rescue bid

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to reopen a former museum are mounting what could be their final rescue pitch as their council prepares to consider a petition.The Manor House Museum in Bury St Edmunds closed last year and, despite a vigorous campaign, the historic mansion is up for sale.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to reopen a former museum are mounting what could be their final rescue pitch as their council prepares to consider a petition.

The Manor House Museum in Bury St Edmunds closed last year and, despite a vigorous campaign, the historic mansion is up for sale.

The Grade I listed Manor House - famous for its world-renowned collection of clocks and watches - was closed in March after owners St Edmundsbury Borough Council said it would have to spend £250,000 over three years to keep it open.

But Simon Pott, chairman of the Bury Society and a member of the steering group set up to save the museum, said there was still a large amount of support for the facility.


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“With the petition we want to show the museum is supported by a large vocal group of people who are concerned for the future of its collections,” he said.

“There seems to be a lack of joined-up thinking on this because on the one hand Bury is bidding for World Heritage Status for the town centre and on the other the museum has closed - it's bizarre.”

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The petition has five points campaigners want to see addressed.

They want a guarantee the collections would be available to the museum, a delay to the sale to give the group more time to raise funds to buy the building, a reduction to the sale price for buyers intent on keeping the building in public use and a provision of specialist curatorial advice.

Martin Lightfoot, steering group chairman, said: “There is a huge treasure trove of artefacts which will not be seen if this museum closes for good.

“The council wants the best price for the building but in my opinion they should give it to us for a pound because it would be for the good of the town.”

The council has said the collections would be stored at its site at West Stow Country Park, with access for academics. A selection would be displayed at the surviving town museum, Moyse's Hall.

Paul Farmer, council portfolio holder for arts and culture, said: “I shall, where possible, respond to them (the steering group) at the cabinet meeting.

“Meanwhile the tender process for the sale of Manor House is currently going ahead, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.”

The petition - with 115 signatures - will be considered at the cabinet meeting on January 16 after being lodged at the council on December 12.

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