Fareham museum to open on Mondays and change to trust

OPENING Westbury Manor Museum
OPENING Westbury Manor Museum
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A MUSEUM is to reopen on Mondays as it gears up for a busy year.

For the past two years, Westbury Manor Museum has been closed on a Monday.

This prompted criticism from residents, who say it is the busiest day because it is market day in the town.

Now, after studies into footfall, a committee decided the museum will open on a Monday and shut on Wednesday – its quietest day.

It was debated whether the museum could open six days a week by closing an hour earlier every day, but this was ruled out because they did not know how much utility bills such heating and lighting would cost.

Fareham Museum joint management committee chairwoman Cllr Connie Hockley said: ‘Opening on a Monday is what we’ve wanted for a long time. It’s good news for the museum and for Fareham.’

Curator Tom de Wit said: ‘We’re excited about opening on a Monday again. The town comes alive on a Monday, there’s also a historical thread as Fareham has been a market town for hundreds of years. It is an important part of Fareham’s history.’

The opening hours will be reviewed after six months and visitor numbers analysed after a year to see if it is working.

The new opening hours are expected to be introduced at the start of next year.

The museum is in the process of being turned into a trust, which was decided by the culture, community and rural affairs select committee at Hampshire County Council.

The Hampshire Solent Cultural Trust is being set up with Winchester City Council to provide museums and art services. It is expected in five years, it will save the council £463,000.

The committee also heard a presentation on the success of the past year’s exhibitions, which has boosted footfall to more than 1,000 higher than the same time last year.

Mr de Wit told the committee about the increasing work of volunteers and how the research work they do is invaluable for bringing local history to the museum.

He said the museum was preparing for a bumper year next year, with exhibitions to commemorate the beginning of the First World War.

Mr de Wit said: ‘These are exciting times. It’s all about delivering the most exciting exhibitions and projects which are valued by local people.’