SVA’s first HQ honours Trump family

PUBLISHED: 06:50 12 January 2018

Handell Bennett at the official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4348. Picture: Terry Ife

Handell Bennett at the official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4348. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

The first property Britain’s oldest civic society has owned in its 171-year history has been officially opened.

The official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4357. Picture: Terry IfeThe official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4357. Picture: Terry Ife

The Sid Vale Association (SVA) has owned land for decades, but the acquisition of the flat above what was Trumps – itself an historic building – for its headquarters is a significant milestone.

Derelict two years ago, it has been carefully restored to host the association’s extensive archive, which had Sidmouth Museum ‘bursting at the seams’, research facilities and a meeting room.

Gavin Manton, a descendant of the Trump family, was the special guest at the opening ceremony on Wednesday along with sister Deirdre Lennox and said his mother – who will celebrate her 100th birthday in May – would be ‘delighted’ by its restoration.

SVA president the Reverend Handel Bennett said: “Whilst the association has for many years owned land, we have never before owned property. The incorporation of this brick building into our assets is another remarkable first for the association. The choice of the name ‘Trump’ for this building links together 200 years of Sidmouth history with 170 years of faithful voluntary action by SVA members who have generously given their time 
and talents, and continue to do so.

The official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4342. Picture: Terry IfeThe official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4342. Picture: Terry Ife

“The SVA stands at the start of a new year and a new challenge: to serve all who live in, or visit, the Sid Valley.

“I am therefore proud to unveil this plaque and to declare the Trump building officially open.”

The SVA opened its first museum in Woolcombe House, now the town council offices, in 1950, when annual visitor numbers were counted in hundreds. The move to its current premises in Hope Cottage in the 1970s saw those numbers rise to 5,000, and then with the introduction of free admission up to 15,000. The museum’s collection also saw ‘massive’ growth and the premises struggled to cope.

SVA chairman Alan Darrant said the museum’s late former curator Bob Symes was constantly flagging up the need for more space, and Ed Harrison finally found a solution.

Handell Bennett at the official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4359. Picture: Terry IfeHandell Bennett at the official opening of The SVA Headquarters in Sidmouth. Ref shs 02 18TI 4359. Picture: Terry Ife

He added: “This building has been transformed, under the watchful eyes of Richard Thurlow and Ed, from its derelict state two years ago to its current condition, with enviable museum storage and research facilities, the SVA’s offices and a meeting room.”

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