National recognition for museum

FELIXSTOWE'S museum has received national recognition – and is now officially what is set out to become more than 20 years ago.Thanks to the hard work of volunteers over many years, the museum – housed in the Ravelin Block at Landguard Fort – has at long last achieved full registered museum status.

FELIXSTOWE'S museum has received national recognition – and is now officially what is set out to become more than 20 years ago.

Thanks to the hard work of volunteers over many years, the museum – housed in the Ravelin Block at Landguard Fort – has at long last achieved full registered museum status.

The national award from Re:source , the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, means the museum has achieved national standards in management, collection care and public service.

It is also recognised as a suitable home for collections of artefacts and exhibits which are part of the country's heritage, and its work is worthy of receiving support from public sources, a great boost for its funding hopes.

It is a far cry from when the museum first began after volunteers searched for several years for suitable premises.

When the Felixstowe History and Museum Society took over the Ravelin Block in 1982 its rooms were filled with old rubbish, it had no power and needed complete refurbishment and redecoration.

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Gradually, volunteers have restored each room, turning the fort annexe into a museum charting the town's 2,000 year history and containing important collections and a research library.

Archivist Sue Tod said everyone involved with the museum was thrilled with the national award.

"It really is quite an achievement and has involved a considerable amount of hard work by the volunteers over the last seven years," she said.

The certificate of registration was presented by Alex Hayward, head of culture for Suffolk for archives, museums and libraries, a great friend of the museum and who, in his previous role as county museums officer, guided the group through the maze of paperwork involved in getting the award.

The museum now has 12 rooms, packed with local history artefacts and displays, and only one room left to complete.

This will be an education room with traditional desks for school parties, and will also feature an exquisite 1914-built cabinet and shelves which once had pride of place in Burts grocery store, Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, WH Smith today.

New attractions at the museum this summer include an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary east coast floods disaster – the museum's building was under several feet of floodwater in 1953 and red tape is being used to mark the level.

Also on show for the first time are top-quality additions to the model room, including large scale models of a Schnellboote S217 German E-boat and a British ML442.

The exhibits were originally remote-controlled working models and were built by Harry Tomlinson, who served on the ML442 at HMS Beehive at Felixstowe during the second world war.

n Felixstowe Museum is open Sundays until October, and also Wednesday afternoons until September. Adults £1, children 50p. Refreshments available.

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