Ambitious Plans for Whitstable Community Museum Revealed

The Whitstable Community Museum & Gallery Charity is excited to reveal its ambitious plans to return the Invicta Steam Locomotive to its true home in Whitstable. We will properly protect and display Invicta with a detailed commentary outlining its history and the story of the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway using our existing extensive resources which include photographs, maps and engravings.

Our vision is to revitalise the museum by greatly improving its visibility and access from the main road. The plans involve making a large opening in the rear wall of the shop area that fronts Oxford Street so that the passer-by can see into the museum. We will open up and develop the hidden courtyard between the shop and the main museum building and provide foot and wheelchair access into the main museum.

The Full Plan

Our full plan is to install Invicta in the ‘hidden courtyard’. A glazed roof will provide both natural light and suitable environmental protection for this major piece of Whitstable’s heritage. The Whelk boat Floreat, which we are currently restoring after having been left under cover for several years, will also be displayed in this new exhibition space.

The Invicta is owned by the Transport Trust and currently is housed in the Canterbury Heritage Museum.  Recent changes to the Canterbury museums mean that a new location is being sought for this locally and nationally important locomotive, the first in the world to provide a regular steam-drawn passenger service.

We understand that other locations being considered include The Beaney and Whitstable Harbour and we believe that a decision will be made in January.

We are pleased to note that on the 5th February 2015, the CCC Executive approved an earlier recommendation of the Overview Committee, that subject to Transport Trust approval and sufficient independent funding being available, support should be given to the Invicta being moved to The Whitstable Museum & Gallery.

 Two-Stage Plan

Cost estimates produce a ‘ball park’ figure in the region of £300k depending on options and reports. The full plan therefore is likely to require an application for a HLF grant which could take some time. With this in mind, our plan would be completed in 2 stages.

Stage 1:  Move the Invicta to Whitstable, initially displaying it in the existing museum building. This part of the project would involve creating an opening between the main hall and the courtyard as described above.  Stage one estimates total between £65k and £90k depending on options and on a detailed report from a structural engineer.

  • Move of Invicta to Whitstable
  • Hire of crane and local works
  • Building works
  • Changes to electrical services, intruder alarm and internal roof
  • Contingency

Stage 2:  Work could then start on the final stage of the full project which would totally reshape the museum and allow us to overcome the access, space and environmental issues that we currently face in our commitment to protect, preserve and display the collection.

Funding

The Whitstable Community Museum and Gallery charity has already raised £30k towards the costs involved.  In addition, we will continue to raise funds locally and we have applied for a ‘Ready to Borrow’ Grant, which if we are successful would fund some of the work required.

Associated Issues

We also urgently need to finalise our management agreement and building lease terms with Canterbury City Council. We have been working hard with support from our professional museum advisors and legal team to negotiate lease and management agreement terms that don’t conflict with each other. It is of course vital to provide security for the huge investment of time and money made by the volunteers and supporters.  The terms of the lease must also be acceptable to any grant bodies to which we may apply in the future.

What has been Achieved

Whitstable Community Museum and Gallery (WCMG) is a charitable organisation supported and run entirely by volunteers and members.  WCMG has operated the Museum in partnership with CCC since 2015 and we are proud of what we have achieved.  In short we have revitalised Whitstable Museum while saving CCC a great deal of money.

 

72 local artists created this mural as part of the Museum’s involvement in Fun Palace

We have:

  • Built and trained a team of 60 volunteers
  • Recruited over 120 members
  • Curated and held 3 major Exhibitions
  • Received professional advice and applied for Arts Council Accreditation
  • More than tripled visitor numbers in under 2 years
  • Started restoring the traditional Whitstable whelk boat ‘Floreat’
  • Created many hands-on activities for children.
  • Spent £15.5k on decoration, replacement LED lighting, new exhibits and improving access to the collection.
  • Installed a phone line and broadband to improve research facilities
  • Exceeded all the key performance indicators proposed by CCC
  • Started an education programme working with local schools.

However, there is still much to do, and we would welcome your comments and support to help us achieve our ambitions to re-build a thriving and successful museum for Whitstable and its visitors from the UK and around the world.

We Need YOUR Help

We need CCC Councillors and Officers to support our exciting plans.

We need more volunteers with varying skill sets to grow our team.

We need more members who provide both core support and some income to help us achieve our goals.

We need the Community to celebrate our successes to date, to visit the museum and spread the word about the museum and our future plans.