1: The Builders have arrived!

It’s only Week 3 and I am already behind on the blogging.  I intended to try to update every week – what’s happening to the building, what’s happening at the museum and what I am up to too.  So to begin with this is a bit of a catch up.


Meet Clive, our site manager.  Clive arrived on June 25th and moved into our back office as a temporary site office, just until his proper cabin arrives.  He started organising the fencing for our site, and sorting out all the million pieces of paper involved in a building project – who knew builders had so much paperwork to do?

The other really exciting thing that happened on 25th was the arrival of our model railway layout.


This amazing working model, based on Barnstaple Junction in the 1930s, is the life’s work of David Knight from Shrewsbury, a retired architect.  Our designer Jeff and I went to see it last year (a lovely lazy railway journey via Wales, which is much the cheapest way to go) and we were astonished by its detail and accuracy.  David and his friends and family has rented a village hall to lay it out and show us, and we were blown away by his skill and the generosity of his donation.  When the museum reopens a new generation of small boys will be able to learn about our illustrious railway history.  Part of the model is now on display in our Pop-Up museum in Bridge Chambers.

Despite the beginnings of the project, I spent a lot of the week in meetings – a regional Museum Development catch up, Volunteer Bureau meeting in Barnstaple to see how we can all work together better to improve the wellbeing of people in Barnstaple, and the Braunton Museum AGM.  It’s great to see Braunton making big strides in their fund-raising, and their improved signage and plans for a new entrance should make a valuable difference to their viability.  I look forward to seeing how the plans progress and helping if I can.

The Saturday of this week was the Barnstaple Festival of Ceramics in the Pannier Market, organised by Tracey Benton.  We had a stall, with both excavated North Devon Pottery and some of our Art Pottery on display.  It was great to meet some ex-Brannams Pottery workers – we are gathering their stories about the firm to help interpret the great pottery and machinery collections that will be in our new Social History Gallery when we reopen next year.

Moving machines 39 Nov 20th 2017.jpg

This, for example is the semi-automated flower pot making machine that Peter Brannam patented in 1946 – terracotta flower pots for the likes of B&Q were a mainstay of the pottery’s production for many years until plastic pots took over.

July 1st was a busy day, with Theatrefest in full swing (we contributed to Courage Copse Creatives’ production with Forches School – The Boat that Flew) and the NHS part at the hospital too – we sent some memories from NHS retirees who are being really helpful as we gather stories for the new gallery.  And so Week 1 came to an end.

I will catch up with Weeks 2 & 3 next week!



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