Cash hope for Suffolk museum

A TOP Suffolk attraction is today set for a £1million cash injection in a move designed to attract thousands more visitors to the region.Stowmarket's Museum of East Anglian Life is currently in the final stages of negotiations to expand into the adjoining Abbots Hall.

A TOP Suffolk attraction is today set for a £1million cash injection in a move designed to attract thousands more visitors to the region.

Stowmarket's Museum of East Anglian Life is currently in the final stages of negotiations to expand into the adjoining Abbots Hall.

It is hoped the development will help promote the town as a tourist destination, providing a vital boost to the local economy.

Harry Barnett, operations manager of the museum, said: "We want this to be a centre-piece of Stowmarket.


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"We've got a great site set right in the middle of the town with great potential as an important visitor attraction for Suffolk itself and even East Anglia.

"At the moment we think it's under utilised. The 20,000 visitors we get per year is not enough but now there's a new injection of urgency to make this happen and make this a major attraction."

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The museum is applying to the heritage lottery fund for £1million it needs.

Problems with entering the 70-acre site, which includes 29 buildings, are also being addressed, with new access points being considered.

Mr Barnett said: "The main problem is the access though Asda's car park and I think it puts a lot of people off coming in. At the moment visitors have got to fight their way through the shoppers."

Promoting the museum has been identified as a top priority by both the town and district council.

A recent report into the future of Stowmarket town centre also identified the museum as a key element in any financial upturn.

The museum will not have to pay a fee to take over the 18th century building, but will spend around £1million on converting it.

Mr Barnett revealed this money will be used to transform the building into a museum with additional uses as an educational and conference centre.

He added: "Our challenge is to link the existing museum and gardens with Abbots Hall to ensure they're not seen as two separate entities.

"We want to make sure that whatever we do we do it sympathetically and maintain the historic features."

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