A journey to reopening: From there to here.
Market Lavington museum is an 1846 building beginning to show its age. In 2019 it became obvious that there were structural problems with the museum. The upper floor was beginning to sag and the back wall of the museum, which is the garden wall of the Old House in Parsonage Lane had developed a large crack. A structural survey indicated the need for RSJs (huge metal beams used to reinforce the entire building) through the middle of the museum and a suggestion that the heavy contents of the upstairs storage room were moved downstairs.
Anyone familiar with the museum will understand the formidable task of packing everything up and reorganising it all within such a confined space.
The whole process has involved two years of playing sliding block puzzles as museum artefacts were moved and moved again, and walls were moved (due to limited storage options the museum contents could not be relocated during renovations). But the first obstacle to overcome was transporting 6 RSJs to the museum. If you have been to the museum you will know that it has no vehicle access.
The RSJs were manoeuvered by dumper truck up through the churchyard before they were placed and boxed in. This work was done by Kevin Preen.
Once the RSJs were in place, the downstairs rooms needed new ceilings and the building needed rewiring.
This work was done by Peachey builders and Adam Heath. With admirable patience they were prepared to play sliding block puzzles as trustees moved artefacts and painted new ceilings….. sometimes before they were ready.
To move the contents from the storeroom upstairs, as suggested by the structural survey, another major difficulty had to be solved. The original storeroom upstairs was spacious, light, and airy. It had room to house the wealth of artefacts and allowed the curator and archivist to work whilst gazing fondly at the changing seasons in the churchyard. The new storeroom downstairs is much smaller. Another puzzle had to be solved. At a site meeting measurements were taken, a plan drawn and Steve Cheetham fitted an amazing amount of shelving into a very small space.
Virtually every cubic metre of the new storeroom contains shelves allowing the archivist to organise and store the multitude of artefacts in a very small space.
As each room was completed our amazing curator and archivist Sue Frost, unpacked the displays and put them back on show. The old store room is still light and airy, and you can still gaze at the churchyard. Now it has a new carpet and houses the contents of a sitting room.
As the building came together the trustees turned their minds and their bodies to the playground outside. Always a shaded area, two years of neglect had allowed a moss carpet several inches deep to develop and numerous weeds had found a home. One sunny day in April a team of volunteers pitched up and cleared the area.
There aren’t many organisations which have an 80 year age gap between their volunteers.
Then the gardeners amongst us decided to plant a border and there are more gardening plans afoot for the yard.
The museum reopens to the public on June 4th 2022. It has been a mammoth task and the number of hours volunteers have dedicated to the project is a testament to the value of the museum to our community. There is still much to do as we welcome new visitors and take the museum into the digital age. If you can volunteer we would love to have you in our team!