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The Ashford Museum Conservation Annexe officially opens

Published: 03/01/2023
Museum trustees and ABC staff at Museum Annexe opening

On Monday 5 December 2022, members and supporters of the Ashford Museum were welcomed into their new Conservation Annexe on the High Street to celebrate its opening and all of the hard work that the dedicated team have accomplished in creating this new space.

Chair of the Trustees, Christine Drury invited fellow trustees, members of the council and volunteers to gather in the Annexe which had on display panels of Peter Green’s railway photos from the 1950s which were assembled for the recent Ashford180 event organised by AIMREC, as well artefacts from the Museum so that those in attendance could see how the space will be used to exhibit and look after the Museum’s ever-growing collections.

The Museum’s President, Sir George Jessel DL Leader of the Council, Cllr Gerry Clarkson CBE and the Mayor, Cllr Jenny Webb officially opened the annexe with a ribbon cutting and a series of speeches about the journey the team has experienced in creating the Conservation Annexe. A photo opportunity then allowed all of the trustees and volunteers to further celebrate their accomplishments. All present then participated in refreshments while they and were able to enjoy more of the collections and examine the display of the museum’s recording and conservation process set out in the secure storage area.

Christine Drury said: “This is the start of a journey for the Ashford Museum Conservation team who record and care for the museum’s collections and have been working in a cramped upstairs corner of the museum. This Annexe will enable them to look after the museum artefacts and enable the museum to bring out and display items that have not been seen for a long time. Bringing the work of the museum more into the public domain will hopefully encourage new volunteers and make the collections much more accessible to all. At No 57 High Street the Annexe is conveniently close to the Museum which is in the Churchyard.  “

The Annexe has been able to be delivered thanks to the Borough Council’s Empty Property Grant scheme that was launched last year. The grants were developed to facilitate and support the occupation of vacant commercial units within the priority areas of the town centre. The scheme has also supported the opening of five other vacant premises in the town.

Cllr Jenny Webb said: “The aim of the (Empty Property) scheme was to bring empty properties back into use and breathe new life and vitality into the town centre.  The concept of the Conservation Annexe seems to me to be the perfect fit for this type of project.  Not only will it help to animate this part of the town centre, drawing interest from passers-by as it tells Ashford’s Story, it will also be a much needed, visible working space for the museum.”

This particular project has come to fruition due to the involvement of organisations and businesses such as Ashford Borough Council, Stafford Perkins, Direct Structures , Kingsford Solicitors, Mascalls Flooring, Lancasters Builders, Medash Signs , Kingsnorth Electrical and ANP Security to name but a few.