Uncertain future for town's museum

AN HISTORIC building which attracts thousands of tourists to Axbridge now has an uncertain future.

AN HISTORIC building which attracts thousands of tourists to Axbridge now has an uncertain future.

King John's Hunting Lodge Museum in The Square has more than 7,500 visitors a year, but it is now in danger of closing after Sedgemoor District Council announced a grants funding cut of £64,000.

The Axbridge and District Museum Trust has now written letters to all district councillors, reminding them of the benefits the facility brings.

The district council used to run the museum but in 2001 the trust took over the running of the building with almost £18,000 from the authority.

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Trust member Kate Browne said: "Since we took over the running we have saved Sedgemoor about £100,000 as they had to pay extra staff and had overheads.

"We are a group of volunteers so we can run the museum for a lot less."

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A survey held last summer showed the majority of visitors to the museum also went on to visit shops, cafes and restaurants in the town. A quarter of visitors were National Trust members, who may not have otherwise visited the town.

Kate said: "Around 1,500 of our visitors are children and we have lots of school trips coming to the museum so we also provide a great educational tool.

"We have 60 volunteers and research in America shows if you do 100 hours of voluntary work, your life expectancy extends by five years.

"So there are health benefits and education benefits. We also run a section in the Town Hall where historians can do research, so we pay rent for that as well."

The museum is also featured in a display at Bristol International Airport, which promotes the medieval town.

Kate added: "If Sedgemoor decides to cut our funding we will be facing closure, but if they do, we definitely won't stand still."

The district council will be meeting in the next month to discuss grants and how much money organisations will be given.

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