Surrey Heath Museum Exhibition: Don’t Take Chances – Go to Francis

Surrey Heath Borough Council announced, yesterday, that the latest exhibition at Surrey Heath Museum is an insight into the work of celebrated local photographer Ron Francis.

This is the last exhibition in Surrey Heath Museum until March 2018. So it’s your opportunity to show support for the museum.

Surrey Heath Museum Issues No1: Council fail to offer a sensible vision for its future

Surrey Heath Borough Council seem fully prepared to invest over a £100 million in Camberley town centre regeneration. In a press release about the acquisition of 45-51 Park Street, the leader of the Council said,

Cllr Moira Gibson, Leader of Surrey Heath Borough Council, said: “This latest purchase is further evidence of the Council’s commitment to invest in Camberley, and gain control of strategically important assets to drive regeneration of the town centre.”

A fine statement indeed. The Council’s vision for Camberley town centre is public and openly discussed, and to the extent that regeneration work has begun. The vision for Camberley town centre is about maintaining retail vitality and additional town centre housing. The vision fails to recognise the cultural aspects of the Borough.

I encourage you to read the council paper on the future of the museum, entitled Surrey Heath Heritage Service.  It was approved by the Council Executive Committee in July. The word museum doesn’t appear in the paper, surely a sign of intent. The Council announced the changes in March, Here’s a summary of what is proposed, and that the museum will host no exhibitions from September 2nd onwards,

The purpose of the review is to make heritage artefacts and services more accessible to the community. The re-focus therefore includes options around:

  • Hidden Histories – placing info boards at suitable locations for people to understand local history
  • Places to Pause – place displays at locations where people naturally wait
  • Pop-Up locations – identify locations where pop-up exhibitions can roll around the borough.
  • On-line accessibility – the collection will be documented, photographed and put on line
  • Service review – working with the contact centre on research appointments

Next, I’ll give my views, and those of some councillors, and I’ll end with my proposals for the museum

Does Surrey Heath Council value its Museum?

Surrey Heath Museum is under threat. Sad but true. Click on image to find out more.

At the recent Camberley Society meeting in the Surrey Heath Council Chamber in June, ably reported on by David Chesneau in The Camberley Eye blog articles, Camberley Regeneration, and Monday’s Meeting Part II where David wrote,

What is the future of the museum? Answer – a museum service will be maintained for the foreseeable future, though the nature of this service has not been decided. The council’s wish, though, is for a “more modern facing” museum.  The council executive will be considering whether to carry out a consultation on the subject  next month.

There’s a strong belief in the value of heritage and history in Surrey Heath, evidenced by the Surrey Heath Museum and its support groups, the Heritage Gallery in the Camberley Mall, Chobham Museum, Windlesham and Camberley Camera Club, Camberley Natural History Society, and numerous other groups,

An issue that concerns the Council is Surrey Heath Museum’s low visitors numbers. Many factors contribute to this, its location in the Council Offices along with it’s difficult access, long term lack of council investment or interest in the museum.

At the Council’s Executive Meeting on 11th July the following paper was presented, and agreed. One thing to notice in the paper, is that the word MUSEUM isn’t mentioned.  A sure sign of the Council’s focus. I’ll write more in the coming days on this topic.

Take Ten – new Surrey Heath Museum exhibition celebrates borough’s rich cultural make-up

Surrey Heath Bough Council announce, Take Ten – an exhibition celebrating the rich cultural make-up of the Surrey Heath area. [Click on image to expand]

The upcoming exhibition at Surrey Heath Museum features 10 people who originate from different countries and have made Surrey Heath their home. Our area has long attracted people to the area for work and family reasons, many of whom have come from abroad.

Settling into a different culture, climate and community is difficult.  However, the people featured have well and truly made the area their home.  The countries covered are Switzerland, Spain, Japan, France, India, Nepal, Barbados, New Zealand and Portugal.  Not forgetting two people who come from other areas in the UK and have settled here!

We look into where people grew up, why they moved here, what they miss and how the area has become their home. The exhibition features objects from their country, food, craft and cultural differences.  It is a true celebration of the area’s rich cultural make-up.

We are holding a special viewing on Saturday 24 May for all those who have taken part.  Members of the press are welcome to attend.

The exhibition runs from 20 May until 2 September 2017.  For more info email museum@surreyheath.gov.uk/ Gillian.Barnes-riding@surreyheath.gov.uk

Surrey Heath Museum heritage walks, a great way to learn about local history

Surrey Heath Museum organise regular heritage walks in the borough. They’re a great way a learning about local history of places, people, and things.

One walk I thoroughly recommend is The RMA Monuments and Memorials Walk, having taken it. In my article on the walk – see HERE – I don’t give too much away, as there’s so much fascinating history, which I only touch on.

Camberley Milestone replica installed with due ceremony

I the previous article I apologised for my embarrassing incompetence with technology. The short video below hopefully recovers some credibility. I was so lucky that Gillian Barnes-Riding spoke clearly, and the traffic noise while she spoke was not as intrusive as when the Mayor spoke. Had my audio been successful this would’ve been no problem. Ah, well. At least you’ve Gillian’s heartfelt thanks for those involved in the restoration. Below the video, I’ve posted the Mayor’s address.

 

Cllr John Winterton, Mayor of Surrey Heath, – address at the unveiling of the renovated milestone.

Thank you all for coming here today to celebrate the restoration of the London Road milestone. The original stone was removed for structural reasons in 2015. After much public support and funding from the Milestone Society, Surrey Heath Local History Club, Surrey Built Heritage Trust, Camberley Glass, and some private donors, we are able to be here today and acknowledge this ‘past signpost to the past.

The original milestone stood here from the mid 1700’s, when a ‘mile stone’ indicated to passing stagecoaches how many miles there were left to Bagshot of Hartford Bridge, depending on which direction they were travelling. Both places have changed significantly since that time, one has grown immensely, while the other has an airport. The road – now the A30 – was a toll road of the Great West Turnpike Road running from London to Exeter. People paid a fee to travel along the road. The Toll House – where you paid your fee – was near the entrance to Laundry Lane on the other side of London Road,

Behind this milestone a time capsule has been inserted into one of the bricks with information on the stagecoach industry locally, a new style £5 note, historic photos of York Town, a memory sticks of the journals offrom the Surrey Heath Local History Society, and press coverage of the removal of the stone, and the successful ‘hug-a-milestone campaign run by Surrey Heath Museum last year. There is also information on Camberley Glass and Windows, and Alfred Elliott, greengrocer, fruiterer and florist who ran a shop on the other side of the entrance to Camberley Glass from 1920s to 1980s.

Thank you all who have been involved in the milestone re-creation, including Rob Predgen from Camberley Glass, Peter Greatbatch, Tim Steggles, and Haven memorials.

Camberley Glass have kindly organised light refreshments in their showroom, following the blessing by the Vicar of St Michael’s Church, the Rev Bruce Nicole.