Agenda and minutes

Venue: Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, Gressenhall

No. Item



To elect the Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing year.



Mr P Duigan was elected as Chairman for the forthcoming year.




To elect the Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing year.



Mr M Kiddle-Morris was elected as Vice-Chairman for the forthcoming year.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 February 2010


The Minutes of the meeting held on 12 February 2010 were agreed as a correct record.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Mr M Fanthorpe, Mr R Kybird, Mrs D Irving and Mr D Blackburn.



Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman welcomed Stuart Dunn, Chairman of the Norfolk Joint Museums and Archaeology Committee. Members were invited to join a tour of the site after the meeting which would include viewing the improvements to the Chapel and the new display in the Roots building.



Urgent Business

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act, 1972.





Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests which they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.


Mr M Kiddle-Morris and Mrs C Walters declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 17 (Gressenhall) as members of the Friends of Gressenhall.



Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life pdf icon PDF 503 KB

Report by Oliver Bone


Oliver Bone presented his report covering the period between February to May 2010.


The number of visitors has continued to rise during the period and the total had exceeded the previous year. This was partly due to the increase in the number of school children visiting, March having been a particularly good month with school attendance topping 2000. Overall attendance by school parties was very pleasing and amounted to 20% of the total visitors.


The Moving Stories exhibition of the population growth in the Thetford area since Neanderthal times had been very successful and attracted new schools that had not previously visited. Mr Bone expressed gratitude to the team of volunteers, freelancers and staff particularly Learning Officer, Melissa Hawker, who had managed and co-ordinated the project.


The Museum had encouraged interest from the under 5’s by setting up a monthly Mini Museum Club, which attracted 25 children at the last event. Each child was given a tool kit to use to explore the museum and make interesting discoveries.


Other events organised by the museum included:-

  • An Easter event which included making and decorating traditional pulpware eggs had been popular.
  • A programme of activities around textiles, which had been an active industry in Thetford since Saxon times, provided a change for visitors. The event included spinning taster sessions, knitting, tie dying, felt making and embroidery
  • Afternoon Talks had been popular and had included one about Norfolk Workhouses
  • House Alive event included stories and demonstrations of how Victorian servants lived and worked. Also offered participation in preparing food, which was cooked on the kitchen range.


The textile day also gave the museum the opportunity to gather post code information from visitors to be used to monitor visitors and change the programme to encourage repeat business.


Future plans included an exhibition in June 2010 featuring Maharajah Duleep Singh, which hopefully would include his portrait. A book about the Maharajah would be on sale, part of the income would go towards Museum’s funds.


A Museum cleaning conservation programme was ongoing, advised by Sarah Norcross-Robinson, to encourage good house-keeping and environmental control. This would help keep up to date the collection care programme and included Insect traps as part of the pest management and control plan.


There had been active sharing of expertise with other museums e.g. Oliver had advised the Museum of Technology in Cambridge and officers from Bishop Bonner Cottage had visited Gressenhall to get ideas about lighting.


Commissioning had been received from the Thetford Area Partnership to set up a History Club for young people. The Museum was also looking at ways to contribute to the healthy living agenda such as heritage walking trails and encouraging cooking skills using the museum kitchen.


Oliver responded to Members questions regarding the recording of recent living history of Thetford such as the changes resulting from London overspill and the influx of Portuguese inhabitants, and agreed that it was important to collect memories and key objects. He gave the example of the recent oral record made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Report by Robin Hanley.



Robin Hanley presented his report on activities at Gressenhall for the period February to May 2010. Visitor attendance had suffered as a result of bad weather during the first quarter of the year. The snow during the February half term had had a big impact with numbers down 800 from the previous year.


Other events held were:

·              An Easter fair, which had attracted more visitors than the previous year with a variety of activities including an impressive parade of Easter bonnets.

·              A Food & Farming Day on the early May bank holiday was similarly hit by bad weather but attendance was boosted by a large rally of classic cars.

·              A History Fair on the late May bank holiday, which was also hit by bad weather but received good feedback from visitors and stall holders.


Future plans included holding smaller event days focussed on the farm which would require less staff and would be aimed at attracting in the region of 600 visitors rather than the usual 2000 to 2500. These events received the same marketing as the bigger events and would offer an expanded range of events but with a reduced budget and would be working towards a fully sustainable event programme. It was planned to produce a targeted visitor evaluation to see if marketing was effective and how staff coped with reduced levels.


Planned events around the farming year included Big Boys Toys on Fathers Day with lots of big farm equipment. A Village at War event with the theme of Glitz in the Blitz was planned for the August bank holiday. Ongoing craft demonstrations were arranged during event days in the Learning Courtyard featuring the Produced in Norfolk theme.


Work had been progressing on the new Women’s Land Army Gallery, which was due to open in 2011. Funding of £50,000 from the Wolfson Foundation/DCMS and continued fund raising from the Friends of Gressenhall had been gratefully received. Other improvement and redecoration work had taken place at Cherry Tree Cottage and in the Farmhouse.  A new display had been set up in the Roots building on the history of the farm, rare breeds and horses, which was a very positive development. Work had continued in the adventure playground and consideration would need to be given to replacing some of the equipment in the future.


Funding from the County Council’s Carbon Energy Reduction Fund had enabled the installation of roof insulation and draught-proofing on historic windows. It was hoped to see a reduction in heating bills as a result of this. Consideration was being given to improving the equipment in the café and to the installation of a biomass boiler to provide all the heating for the site.


The Chapel had been converted to provide a flexible flat floor space by using removable sectional inserts to level off the floor, which had increased its suitability for the use of exhibitions and performance events such as dance. Improvements had been made to the Training Room where it was planned to have wireless  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Next meeting

To agree date for the next meeting.



The next meeting would be held on 10 September 2010 at 10am at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum.