Government grant will help repair roof and central heating

Ilfracombe Museum has been awarded £50,000 to help preserve its collection of Victorian curiosities and turn the museum it into a tourist hotspot.

Trustees of the museum on Wilder Road will be able to carry out essential roof repairs after winning a share of £700,000 government cash awarded to help restore Great British coastal landmarks to their former glory.

It is one of 15 projects to benefit from the latest round of Coastal Revival funding announced by Communities Minister Mark Francois today (Monday).

In December, the Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall Exhibition received £50,000 to carry out modernisation work.

Mr Francois said he hoped that the work would encourage a wave of enthusiasm for trips to much-loved seaside areas – and help boost the £4billion that tourism generates for coastal communities every year.

He said: “Across our Great British Coast we've got heritage hooks to be proud of, but some of these places need some tender, loving, care.

“That's why over the past year we've invested £3.7million to get them back into ship-shape and now Ilfracombe Museum and 14 more brilliant British attractions will be buoyed up by work to restore them to their former glory.

“This country has sight-seeing gems that are a match for anywhere in the world and I'd urge people to take a trip down to the seaside to discover them.”

Housed in the old laundry of the Ilfracombe Hotel, the museum attracts around 14,000 visitors each year.

One highlight of the collection is a natural history section – thousands of insects and butterflies, taxidermy, and even pickled bats.

The exhibits are sensitive to poor environmental conditions but the new funding will pay for roof repairs and central heating, as well as a general spruce up.

Museum trustee Sue Garwood said the money would also go a long way to preserving the Victorian kitchen exhibition.

She added: “We are absolutely delighted at getting this grant and thank all those who have worked so hard to put it all together.

“Visitors are already aware of our eclectic collection, the bats and the 2-head kitten among them!

“What many people might not know is that we also have an extensive archive which is used by local researchers, TV and radio companies and people from all over the world who come to in search of their roots.

“We aren't a 'rich' Museum, we don't get any funding for the everyday costs. Our money comes from entrance fees, room hire, lectures, our shop and local charities who generously donate money to us when we have special projects.

“Although we maintain the building within our very restricted budget, this grant means that the roof, for example, can have a good overhaul and we can cancel the order for more buckets to catch the drips next winter.

“Obtaining this grant is wonderful and welcome news for the museum but we cannot take our eye off the ball and trustees will continue to work and look for grants to make further improvements to provide more facilities, increase our visitor numbers and therefore our revenue to help to sustain the museum.

“We know that this much loved Museum is an important part of Ilfracombe and North Devon as a whole, to locals and to visitors alike and we will continue to do all that we can to preserve the past for future generations.”