Marton Museum pays a visit
Written by Bobbie Bolam
Seven Museum Volunteers paid a very informative visit on 18 June to see the Chedham’s Yard collection and to talk to the team responsible for managing the collection. You may recall that Chedham’s Yard, in Wellesbourne, won “BBC Restoration Village” in 2006 after featuring in the series that year. It consists of a blacksmith’s and wheelwright’s workshop, the buildings untouched for many, many years, and all its contents (believed to be about 5000 items).
The actual workshops are currently being restored and meanwhile the artefacts are being stored in a large barn a few miles away (after having spent some time in Birmingham University’s large freezers in order to deal with woodworm). It was there that we visited and it proved to be very fascinating, both to see the items and to be able to talk to the team about their problems and plans, many of which are very relevant to our own Marton collection. The main difference between the two collections lies in the fact that Chedham’s Yard is a working Museum and the buildings themselves form part of the whole thing – possibly the most important part, whereas our own collection stands alone but consists of a very wide variety of items. The costs currently being incurred by Chedham’s Yard in renovating and restoring their buildings are enormous – in excess of a million pounds. In addition to their winnings from the BBC (which form the bulk of the money) they have also received a Heritage Lottery grant of about £50,000, as indeed we hope to do. They are employing specialist conservation builders who are making the old buildings safe, repairing existing damage and arresting further damage but who are leaving them in the same broad condition as they were found. For example, if a window did not fit properly it will not fit when the work is completed. This is very different from our own building plans which aim to provide a modern, well lit and temperature controlled space in which to display our collection without any further damage occurring to it and allowing visitors to see the items in comfort. While the building work at Wellesbourne is being carried out the team is spending its Saturdays in marking every single item with a number in white pen. This is the third classification exercise they have undertaken: the first was very similar to our own current task using acid free card labels; the second was for the purposes of photographic records (every single item has been photographed); and this third and hopefully final one is to mark the actual items. All their information is held on a large database. It is now fiive years since they won the BBC award and three since work started in earnest. All this was a salutary lesson to us as to just how long things take and how much preparatory work (and money) is required in order to achieve one’s vision. The Yard hopes to open to the public next spring and will be open for about 50 days a year, visits by appointment only. For further information visit their website on http://www.chedhamsyard.org.uk. A return visit by some of the Chedham’s team to see our own collection is planned and it is also hoped that one of their representatives will come and give a talk to our Local History Group. Meanwhile, our own classification process is continuing, with several sessions being planned.
Don't forget to come and visit us at the Village Sports Day on Saturday 2 July when the Museum will be open to all and our stall will have lots of other exciting things to see!