NEW MUSEUM PROJECT – UPDATE MARCH 2018
Introduction. The last six months have seen both setbacks to building work and useful refinements to the approach. Good headway is being maintained; momentum is gathering. The theme of my last report was the ever-present need to balance available money with ensuring we keep a focus on achieving the best possible museum. This report therefore focuses upon Developments and Plans.
Developments. As anticipated, structural work is back underway. Since Nov 17 most work has been the continued strip-out of 1TM. As with any building of its age, this has revealed some unwelcome surprises which have had to be attended to. In essence, the builders have taken all internal walls back to bare brick, repaired and replaced some of that brickwork and then applied a watertight plaster to it. The additional cost has been addressed though it is, in effect, an investment for the mid-to-long-term future of the building as a museum and I assess that we no longer face more remedial structural work and that none of any significance will be required in the next two decades; good news! This structural work has also included scheduled covering of ‘blind’ windows, chemical treatment of timbers, emplacement of additional beams and a first fit of electrics including emergency equipment.
As a vignette – and to demonstrate why some progress is at times unavoidably slow – we currently face a problem with the staircase which has been designed by an external contractor. They appear to have miscalculated the current design to the extent that even a medium height person would strike their head on a beam when mounting step 6. It is likely that a staircase support beam will have to move some 4 feet. This is a new beam added to the building since we acquired it specifically to facilitate access to the first floor by those with limited mobility. This has a knock-on effect on the planned Stannah ‘stair riser’ which takes a wheelchair, and which is likely now to be replaced with a ‘stair lift’ (takes a person on seat but not a wheelchair). The part of Stannah Group which has generously offered us a heavily discounted stair riser is a completely different business entity to that which sells stair lifts so a new approach is required to source new equipment. It seems increasingly likely that an opening date in 2018 may not be practicable.
Plans. Again, as forecast in my last report, Vertigo, our likely design contractors, presented to Trustees at the end of 2017. However, after close consideration by the Collection Trustees and Museum Project Team a new contractor has been briefed and the Collection Trustees will receive a fresh brief from PLB Projects Ltd on 12 Apr. Light Dragoons ‘Charge!’ Museum, the National Army Museum and The Cumbria Museum of Military Life are among clients. The firm is bigger, better-established and, we hope, better-able to deliver the top quality result we seek.
Other. We are following up on contact made with Chartwell at the International Churchill Society Dinner by the Commanding Officer before Christmas with a view to possible loans by the National Trust to any Churchill-centered display. Early days but I hope that NT will agree that we both seek to record and celebrate aspects of the Great Man’s life.
So please support your Museum in whatever way you can. More information can be found on the QRH Museum site.