‘Dream come true’ £616,000 grant for repairs to historic museum building
Dating from 1846-7, the museum was designed by architect George Buckler, who used Classical Greek architectural features in his design, including a symmetrical front elevation with decorative cornices and a central stone portico.
As one of the first purpose-built museums designed in the country, this building is of exceptional significance.
Original period details can be seen inside the museum, particularly in its cornices, doors and fireplaces. The original bookcases and display cases all survive and it is thought that the gallery and staircase of the main display hall may also be original. Recent paint layers have peeled off in places, due to leaks, which has revealed historic paintwork and wallpaper. These leaks are also causing some cracking and loss of plaster.
The poor and declining condition of the building in Wisbech led to it being added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2018.
The grant of £616,000 from Historic England will enable long-term roof repairs to begin in spring 2021.
Tony Calladine, Regional Director for Historic England in the East of England said: “We’re delighted to support the urgently needed repair of Wisbech and Fenland Museum with this grant. As one of the first purpose-built museum buildings in the country, it is of national significance and also hugely important to its local community. We’re pleased to play our part in repairing this important building and ensuring that it continues to delight visitors with the fascinating collections for which it was created.”
The museum is run by an independent charity committed to keeping the museum collection in the historic building for which it was designed.
They are fundraising for the match funding required to complete the project.
David Ball, Vice-Chairman of the Wisbech and Fenland Trustee Company Ltd said: “This grant is a dream come true for all of us at the Museum. The condition of the building has been a concern of previous trustees for generations and we are on the brink, at last, of repairing and restoring the external fabric of the building to a condition that might be recognised by the original builders but will not have been seen since Victorian times. We simply could not do this without Historic England and are most grateful to everyone there, for their guidance during the whole process of the last three years and now for the financial support contained in this grant.”