Proposed Funding Cut to Royal Cornwall Museum: A Sign of Things to Come in the Industrial Heritage Museum Sector?

The proposed withdrawal of core funding from Cornwall Council, announced in the summer of 2022, could threaten the future of the Royal Cornwall Museum. The museum, founded in 1818, holds a wide range of collections spanning 4,000 years of Cornwall’s history, including material and displays relating to the area’s rich mining heritage. Such a proposed cut from a key funder may be a sign of the potential impact of local authority cuts within the industrial heritage museum sector (and beyond), as councils battle rising inflation against tight budgets and legal requirements to support key services.

However, in an encouraging statement on the RCM’s website their Chief Executive Jonathan Morton stated that: “We are grateful to the delegation of senior officers from Cornwall Council for coming to the museum and allowing us to outline our situation, and to put forward our proposals for both a short term fix and a longer term solution. This meeting also allowed us to highlight the progress the museum has made over recent years and to reinforce the importance of the museum and its collections to the people of Cornwall.

We’ve been really encouraged by the response from Cornwall Council following the meeting, and both RCM and Cornwall Council have committed to continue to explore options, along with other partner organisations, to address the short and long term future of the museum, and will be undertaking further discussions in the coming days.”

You can help the museum by visiting, or making a donation and joining as a member by following this link:

Funding Opportunity: Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund supports a range of projects that bring collections closer to people. They award the fund on behalf of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to projects that demonstrate the significance, distinctiveness, and power of collections to people. The fund has awarded over £11m to 170 projects since it launched in 2011.

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund supports museums to use their collections to become relevant and sustainable organisations that are connected to, and valued by, their communities. All applications to the fund must focus on existing collections, typically held by an Accredited museum or partnership of museums and other organisations. The funded work must engage and involve audiences to achieve public benefit. In 2022 they have simplified the grants offered, recognising the challenge of the pandemic and seeking ways to build on the great work undertaken in the last two years. This year they are offering grants of up to £90k over two years for museums to test new, ambitious, creative collections engagement that has a social impact. These grants are for museums to innovate, kick-start, or develop their collections engagement practice where there is a strong link between a relevant collection and audience.

The last expression of interest deadline this year is 14 September 2022 for awards in December, following a two-stage process. In total £1.3m will be awarded in 2022 across an anticipated seven to ten projects in each funding round. All applicants will meet a set of essential requirements relating to using existing collections to engage, involve and inspire audiences. You can find out more about what they want to see in their guidance for applicants.

For more information and download applicant information packs, please click here to visit their website.

Industrial Museums Receive £7 Million as Part of £50 Million CDF Support

Galleries, museums, libraries, and cultural venues across the country are to benefit from almost £50 million of funding which will improve people’s access to the arts, safeguard cultural assets for future generations, and power economic growth through culture. This support comes from the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) strand of the funding and £6,943,759 of this fund will be spent on seven industrial heritage museums in England.

Barnsley Museums have been awarded a grant of £3.93 million by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England. The significant funding will transform Elsecar Heritage Centre, creating new creative studios in derelict historic spaces, maker and museum galleries and stunning new indoor and outdoor areas for events and cultural activity. Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust received £1,064,348 for repairs from the MEND strand of the funding which will enable the Trust to carry out vital infrastructure and essential maintenance work at Blists Hill Victorian Town.

In addition, Leeds Industrial Museum received £653,000, Brooklands Museum Trust were granted £488,000, Bletchley Park received £468,393, the London Transport Museum was granted £277,093, and Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum was granted £62,925 to repair its historic fabric.

Pithead colliery gear, Blists Hill, Ironbridge

Claverton Pumping Station Appeals for Funding Support

Claverton Pumping Station is preparing for more flooding over the coming winter months and is appealing for funds. The volunteer-run museum lies just outside Bath, where a group maintains the Grade I listed pumping station, dating from 1813.

Using a water-wheel, the station pumps 100,000 gallons of water an hour into the Kennet & Avon Canal to keep it topped up from the nearby River Avon. Unfortunately, as the pumping station is built next to the river the site floods on a yearly basis. From October-March, the lowest floor needs to be cleared to minimise any flood damage. With little space in the pumphouse itself the group relies on an outbuilding to store signs, benches, and parts of machines for the winter. The outbuildings are up the bank from the pumphouse, thus getting them away from all but the worst floods. However, their largest outbuilding has all but collapsed. They are looking to raise £2,500 towards helping the group to build a strong raised outbuilding that can survive even the worst floods. This new winter storage will help keep the pumping station preserved for future generations.

Details on how to donate can be found here:

Claverton pumping engine.

Forncett Industrial Steam Museum Appeal Success

In the summer of 2021 the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum launched an urgent funding appeal. This was for £14,000 to cover the cost of replacing the old steam pipework feeding some of the 18 full-sized steam engines on display, and getting this new system certificated.

The IHN East of England member launched an on-line appeal in June 2021 and this has now (October 2021) reached its target, with support coming from the friends of the museum and various other supporters. These funds will allow the steam pipeline system to be replaced over the winter, giving time for it to be certificated for full steaming in Spring 2022.

Hick Hargreaves engine, manufacture din Bolton, on display the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum.

Culture Recovery Fund For Heritage Round 2 Now Open

A second round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is now open. This fund is part of the rescue package announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across England from the continuing economic impact of COVID-19.

This latest round of funding looks forward to next spring and early summer when it is expected that cultural organisations will be able to operate with fewer restrictions. Over £300 million of grants will be available, covering the period April-June 2021, to support cultural organisations with the costs they will face as they welcome back visitors and customers.

Historic England are working in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund to distribute £36 million of this Government funding to organisations in England, based on criteria set by DCMS. This second round will offer grants of between £10,000 and £3 million to support organisations to make the transition towards full reopening. The fund will be open for applications from Thursday 7 January 2021 and organisations can apply any time from then until Tuesday 26 January 2021. 

Follow the link here for application details: Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage: Second Round | The National Lottery Heritage Fund