Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse
Report of the Western Area Manager.
Mr Robin Hanley presented highlights from the report which covered the period between March to June 2014.
The Museum continued to deliver a broad range of events. The format of the Main Event days and the Days with a Difference were well established and could be tailored so that each event ran efficiently.
Funding from Arts Council England continued to support the costs of delivering and marketing the Gressenhall event programme. Norfolk Museum Service had been successful in renewing the application for 2015-18 funding.
Gressenhall were delighted to be hosting and working in partnership with Breckland District Council for the Festival on the Farm event scheduled for 26 July 2014.
The Spring Fair event took place and featured a broad range of fun activities for families and saw guest heavy horses working on the farm. This event used the new ticketing building which had been well received.
An event, ‘History Alive – The workhouse experience’ had been piloted and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the development work for Voices from the Workhouse project.
Gressenhall supported the national programme of Open Farm Sunday which included free admission into the farm and reduced admission to the remainder of the site.
Copies of a leaflet displaying summer holiday events was presented and Members were informed that these would be circulated to all primary and secondary schools in the Litcham and Dereham clusters. It included a special offer voucher which could be tracked for future marketing purposes.
Two temporary exhibitions opened at Gressenhall. Letters from the Workhouse ran from 9 March to 1 June and featured the extraordinary stitched letters created by an inmate of the Lunatic Ward at Great Yarmouth Workhouse.
The second exhibition had featured a range of collections and stories from heavy horse expert Ray Hubbard which would be displayed throughout the 2014 season.
The ‘Rediscover Gressenhall’ marketing campaign aimed to recruit repeat local visitors to the site. The offer ran during April 2014 and saw a total of 639 vouchers which admitted a total of 2446 visitors, representing 20% of the total visitors during April 2014.
Gressenhall continued to maintain its strong social networking presence with active and growing profiles on Twitter and Facebook. It had recently been awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from the Trip Advisor website.
Keppel’s Lodge, the new traditional oak-framed building had been completed. The building would be used for ticketing on major event days and had been first used for this purpose on Easter Bank Holiday Monday.
Gressenhall continued to develop a range of commercial activities as a means of generating new income.
Mr Hanley informed Members that Friends continued to support a range of activities across the site including the purchase of a new harness for the Suffolk Punch horses.
Members were informed that the BBC ‘The One Show’ had requested the Panhard car to appear on the programme at very short notice. A team of volunteers had dealt with the demand and the car would be appearing on the show on Friday 11 July.
Gressenhall had recently hosted in partnership with Norfolk County Council Children’s Services a day for foster families to enjoy activities at the museum.
The Learning Team continued to be very busy with core schools programme and school visitor numbers remained strong. The team had developed a new school session entitled ‘Annie’s War’ aimed specifically at Key Stage 2 children which looked to explore the impact of the First World War through a child’s eyes.
The Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future training project continued to run at Gressenhall in partnership with the Museum of East Anglian Life.
Gressenhall were delivering and evaluating a new programme of eight short courses aimed at adults. The first two courses had been very successful and well received.
Members were informed that visitor figures to date were slightly down by 4% compared to the same time last year, however the awful weather during May Half-term had impacted on this.
Councillor Joyce thanked the Museum for the Sunday which was held for Foster families and said it had been a very enjoyable day.
Councillor Canham asked if there was a broad admission rate for groups of people.
Mr Hanley said that Norfolk Schools admission remained free and local groups could visit the Museum at a discounted rate.
Councillor Humphrey asked if parents could buy season tickets as the Summer Holiday events leaflet did not mention this option.
Mr Hanley said there were two options in which the public could purchase a season ticket for the museum. One option was to become a Friend of the Museum if they were only visiting the Gressenhall Museum. The second option would be to purchase a museum pass which would allow access to all Museums across Norfolk.
Councillor Humphrey asked for more information on the adult leisure learning offer.
Mr Hanley informed Members that Gressenhall had been liaising with Norfolk Adult Education in delivering and evaluating a new programme of eight short courses aimed at adults. Courses included screen printing, doll making and discovering the workhouse.
Mr Hanley shared the initial design concepts and plans for the new displays for the Voices from the Workhouse project as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund project.
The Chairman thanked Mr Hanley for his comprehensive report and for sharing with Members the draft exhibition designs.