Part of our children's birthright

WHATEVER has happened to Weston-super-Mare? - a town with an extra special name.

WHATEVER has happened to Weston-super-Mare? - a town with an extra special name. How can the councillors be talking of the closure of its museum?

The collections built up over almost a century and a half reflect its place in history, from prehistoric finds at Uphill of national importance to recent social history. Treasured objects have been given to the museum in good faith, confident of public safe-keeping for the benefit of future generations.

There have been challenges in the past. When local government was re-organised in 1974, the new district council had the vision, with some persuading from then librarian/curator Geoff Rye, to buy the old Gaslight Company's Stores in Burlington Street.

I was privileged to take forward that initiative, moving the museum into its new home, a quirky building whose links with days of horse-drawn traffic prompted a smile from Princess Anne. Launched with passion and affection by a dedicated team, museum and building went on to win various awards for the council, carrying forward the hope of a long life giving enjoyment and inspiration to residents and visitors alike.

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Museums are not something of the moment, to be taken up and cast down on a whim. Objects are the essence. They need a home where they can be properly looked after and where visitors can see the real thing, get a sense of its solidity, make their own discoveries. Children exclaim in wonder when they explore Clara's Cottage, a time-capsule of life as it was lived in that very house.

Now in 2010, when millions are being spent on re-furbishing museums across the country, the director of the British Museum has embarked on an epic BBC radio series, a History of the World through 100 objects. Local museums are following suit with their own selections, making connections, celebrating a shared heritage. How fortunate Weston is to have its area museum. It cannot afford to lose this part of our children's birthright.

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Through the Mercury I urge councillors to think again, keep faith with past and future generations and find a way to keep alive this corner of culture in North Somerset.


Museum Curator 1974-89

St Andrew St, Tiverton

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