Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse
Report of Western Area Manager.
Dr Robin Hanley presented the report which covered the period from October 2014 to January 2015, and noted that although the Museum had only opened for the February Half-Term in 2015 it had already seen strong visitor numbers.
Dr Hanley distributed the new leaflet which had been produced that provided details of all events that would be held during the 2015 season. This included special events and Days with a Difference, and the Museum looked forward to a strong year despite the re-development work going on.
The final event of the 2014 season had been Apple Day which had seen over 3000 visitors to the event. Positive feedback had been received and it had been encouraging to see the new Kettles Lodge being used to its full potential.
Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse was pleased to see that visitor numbers had increased to 18,866 to the events programme alone and were pleased to see numbers had increased over the years.
The temporary exhibition running during the 2015 season would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Institute in Norfolk. Both the exhibition and the accompanying events programme were being developed in partnership with Members of the WI.
Gressenhall continued to run a strong events programme with the addition of three new Days with a Difference. These were Gressenhall goes Wild, The Wedding Fair and Summer Story Festival.
A modest additional charge for visitors attending the Main Event days would be applied during the 2015 season, however, this would not affect those with Museum Passes or Friends of the Museum.
The Voices from the Workhouse project was well underway with painters, decorators and electricians currently working on Phase 1 of the project. Display areas had been cleared which already gave a different feel to the Workhouse. It was hoped that works would be completed by the end of March, and the Museum would be opened as planned, even though many areas would be empty. In the summer new displays would be introduced and projections would be tested with visitors before the final stage at the end of the season. All match funding had been secured and the Museum had been successful with their Round 2 Heritage Grant Application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The HLF were very happy with the start of the project and would continue to hold project meetings with Gressenhall to monitor progress.
Gressenhall had been nominated as a finalist at the 2014 Norfolk Tourism Awards which was very pleasing considering the museum was on the cusp of major re-development.
The Museum continued to maintain its strong social networking presence with active and growing profiles on Twitter and Facebook. Stakeholders and funders also used this facility so it was important that this was maintained.
Gressenhall continued to actively look at commercial activities and had just launched a new bespoke wedding packing, following the licensing of the former Workhouse Chapel and Boardroom for Civil ceremonies. The hosting of the Wedding Fair in July would raise awareness of marketing of the new packages. Six people had already expressed an interest in using this bespoke service.
Norfolk County Council ratified at a recent meeting that winter charges would apply at Ancient House and Car park charges would be implemented at Gressenhall. A review on how to introduce this was under way and staff were liaising with other services to ensure that the right choices were made.
Around 120 volunteers continued to be active on the Gressenhall site, however a number of new volunteers would be recruited and trained as part of the Voices from the Workhouse project.
The Gressenhall Learning team continued to deliver a broad and varied programme to children and young people at pre-school, KS1-3 and secondary level. It was anticipated that around 11,000 school children would have visited the site during 2014-15.
During 2015 Gressenhall would be hosting two new traineeship posts delivered as part of the Norfolk Museum Service Teaching Museum Programme. They would be salaried posts and funded as part of the HLF Voices from the Workhouse Project.
Gressenhall continued to be registered with Norfolk County Council as a care farm which offered work-based placements to a number of adults with learning difficulties.
Visitor numbers had been circulated and it was reported that Gressenhall was continuing to perform strongly.
Councillor Humphrey asked for more information about being a care farm. Dr Hanley said the programme was going really well, and that people who took part in this were either in a small group or individuals. Staff and Volunteers were sensitive to the needs of individuals and had received positive feedback. The museum received funding to cover additional costs with this project.
The Chairman asked if Gressenhall were doing anything to encourage the hard to reach groups to visit the Museum.
Dr Hanley said they were mindful that the target audience of the museum was based around families and were looking at how to broaden this to groups that would not normally visit the museum.
Dr Robinson asked if the venue could be used for Adult Education Programmes. Dr Hanley said that there were plans in place to run some extended courses in conjunction with Norfolk County Council; however no dates had been set.
The Chairman thanked Dr Hanley for his report.