Barnstaple’s museum is a step closer to reopening, with builders closing in on finishing its £2million extension.

The new Long Bridge Wing of the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon. Picture: Tony GussinThe new Long Bridge Wing of the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon. Picture: Tony Gussin

Devon Contractors are set to complete their work on the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon's Long Bridge Wing and hand back to North Devon Council next week.

The exterior of the new wing has been constructed using brick and slate to remain in keeping with the museum's aesthetic, and striking copper finishing is inspired by Shapland and Petter furniture.

The wing has increased the space inside the museum by 70 per cent and inside there will be a new social history gallery, two high-quality exhibition rooms, a learning room and a new shop.

With building work just about finished, the museum team will be spending the next six weeks putting the displays together.

Museum volunteer Janet Berwick and manager Alison Mills in the new Long Bridge Wing.Museum volunteer Janet Berwick and manager Alison Mills in the new Long Bridge Wing.

Museum manager Alison Mills said the new additions will make a 'massive difference' to the bigger and brighter museum, which she hopes will open in October.

"We are champing at the bit to get into these spaces and get set up," she said.

"We are a couple of months behind schedule, but you can't rush it too much, and we are still on budget."

Ms Mills said the museum's front of house would have to close for a period while work took place.

Sam Bevan and Sadie Green have been working on the former Brannam Pottery machines.Sam Bevan and Sadie Green have been working on the former Brannam Pottery machines.

"We have tried really hard to keep the front of house going," she said.

"There comes a point where you need to batten down the hatches and get on with it and get it open again."

Already earmarked for the social history gallery are machines used by Brannam Pottery.

The expanded exhibition space means it is only now possible for the machines to be displayed at the museum after being acquired back in 2007.

The museum is now calling for people who may have used the machines, which include the jigger and jolly, fettling wheel and the Peter Brannam-patented flower pot making machine.

Work began on the Long Bridge Wing in June 2018. It was supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Coastal Communities Fund, North Devon Council and the Art Council, as well as Fullabrook CIC, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Foyle Foundation.

The museum is also looking for designers and craftspeople to supply products to sell in the new shop, and plans to stock locally made products.

If you have a product that would appeal to the museum's varied audience, email trudy.weston@northdevon.gov.uk