Monkwearmouth Station Museum under threat of closure

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sprinterguy

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The museum located within the 1848 former terminus of the Brandling Junction Railway at Monkwearmouth in Sunderland, is currently facing closure by Sunderland City Council:
Sunderland museum may close due to budget cuts
Monday 15 February 2016


One of Wearside’s best-loved tourist attractions could shut - despite a bid to bring coveted City of Culture status to Sunderland.

Alternative options for the future of the Grade II* listed building are to be investigated.

“This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, but it is one of the really difficult choices we are having to look at because of government cuts,” said councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture.

Although a final decision has yet to be taken, the Friends of Sunderland Museums (FOSUMS) condemned the idea.

“We are extremely alarmed about this. Even a “temporary closure” poses real danger to the museum and its exhibits,” said Neil Sinclair, vice-chairman of FOSUMS.

“Fulwell Mill was temporarily closed and, as a result, the building deteriorated with water coming in and a lot of extra money had to be spent on making it weather-tight again. Also, what sort of message does this send about the City of Culture bid?”

Monkwearmouth Railway Station was commissioned by the “Railway King” George Hudson, designed by leading architect Thomas Moore and opened on June 19, 1848.It closed to travellers in 1967 and all railway use ended in 1970.

Sunderland Corporation stepped in to save the building from dereliction and it was re-opened as a museum by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1973. Several revamps have followed.

But, according to Councillor Kelly, the grand old building has seen a “steady decline in visitor numbers” over the past few years.

“We need to look at how we can continue to preserve and maintain the building at the same time as protecting the museum’s collection and historical past,” he said.

“At the forefront of our thinking will be looking at new and innovative ways to protect the future of Monkwearmouth Station Museum in the longer term.”

Members of FOSUMS are ‘alarmed’, however, that councillors are pressing ahead with funding plans for other heritage projects while the museum could close.

“We hope that the closure is indeed only temporary, but we very much fear once the council’s contribution is removed from its budget, it will never reappear,” said Neil.

“The council justify the possible closure because of falling visitor numbers, but numbers are roughly the same as the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, which costs more to run.

“We realise that the council is having to make cuts as a result of budget cuts, and that the Museums Service would have to make further savings, but we find the closure inexplicable.

“We need to start fighting for the very survival of our museums. We are sure that we will receive widespread support from the people of Sunderland who love their museums.”

Read more: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/histo...se-due-to-budget-cuts-1-7732967#ixzz41dybA1sb
The museum is desperately in need of updating if it is to stand any chance of attracting additional patronage and in its' current format it is not surprising that visitor numbers have been declining, but all the same it would be a shame to lose public access to such a historically significant example of early Victorian passenger railway development.

There's a petition that can be signed in an attempt to avert any plans for closure:
https://www.change.org/p/sunderland...n-museum-25004548-a322-4095-9bb8-07e400f5304d
 
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DarloRich

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Darlington has somehow managed to keep its Railway Museum open, despite loosing all manner of public services including all Libraries. Hopefully Sunderland can do the same.

I haven't been for many years but remember going as a child quite regularly.
 

theironroad

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As a bit off an aside, another museum closure isn't good for the area as Bede's museum has just closed too.
 

sprinterguy

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As a bit off an aside, another museum closure isn't good for the area as Bede's museum has just closed too.
Yes, I was greatly disappointed to here about the closure of Bede's World. It was an excellent resource to have, and was hardly a great age as an attraction.
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I haven't been for many years but remember going as a child quite regularly.
I'm exactly the same. It's never been updated to any great extent to entice me back in, and to be fair whenever I am back in the north east I've always got more pressing and appealing demands on my time.
 

sprinterguy

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Would it be possible to get metro trains to stop at the museum?
That would help surely?
The purpose built St Peters Metro station, all of about fifty yards away, renders such a move entirely superfluous. Which is before you even consider the cost of bringing the platforms, and possibly other features such as the building itself, up to Metro standard.
 

EbbwJunction1

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The purpose built St Peters Metro station, all of about fifty yards away, renders such a move entirely superfluous. Which is before you even consider the cost of bringing the platforms, and possibly other features such as the building itself, up to Metro standard.

That's how I travelled when I visited the museum.

I can't remember how long ago it was, mind you - sometime in the 2000s, probably. I do remember thinking, though, "that's one that I won't have to go to again as I've seen everything they've got".

That must be a problem with small museums - there can't be many repeat visits as things don't change very much. For example, I always go to the NRM when I'm in York because things change, but there's other (non railway) museums in the city that I've been to once only, because there's nothing new to see.
 

nanstallon

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It is sad that in times of economic difficulty, public amenities are the first to go.
 
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