Ottery museum damage propmts calls for permanent home

PUBLISHED: 12:54 16 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:57 18 June 2010

EXHIBITION equipment used to showcase a thousand years of Ottery s history has been damaged by torrential rain, heightening calls for a permanent museum for the town.

EXHIBITION equipment used to showcase a thousand years of Ottery's history has been damaged by torrential rain, heightening calls for a permanent museum for the town.

The chairman of Ottery's Heritage Society this week moved to reassure residents the town's valuable collection of historic artefacts are safe, and under "lock and key".

However, the infrastructure of the town's museum, boxed up since early 2008, has been hit by water damage after a marine container in which it is kept sprung a leak due recent wet weather.

The damage has come as a blow to the town's Heritage Society, which is funded purely by donations and the generosity of its members, as it looks for a permanent home to display a century's worth of history.

Chairman Robert Neal said: "This does emphasise the need for a permanent museum premises.

"What is important to stress is Ottery's history and treasures are safe. The Heritage Society receives, stores and holds all kinds of artefacts, collectables and family heirlooms, passed over for safe-keeping.

"Those kind of things are not kept in our museum containers. Anything of value or historic importance is stored under lock and key elsewhere.

"What is in the two large marine containers, kindly donated to the society, is the infrastructure of the museum, exhibition kit such as display panels, show cases, enlarged pictures and photographs and copies of valuable information.

"Because of the abnormal torrential weather we've had, somewhere the container sprung a leak, water was coming up through the floor."

The Salston Manor Hotel had acted as the home of Ottery's history for four years before its closure in January 2008.

Since then the Heritage society has enquired about a spot in town's vacant factory site, and earlier this year launched a £200,000 fundraising bid to buy a building in the grounds of the Old Convent only to lose out to Devon County Council.

Mr Neal said: "It's fairly well known within the town we've wanted a museum for decades. Areas have been identified and passed over for various reasons.

"We have a thousand years of recorded history and a tremendous lot to display. We didn't have room for it all in the Salston and could occupy quite a big premises, the Ottery public deserves that.

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