Agenda item

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse report



Hannah Jackson the Operations Manager for Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse  presented the report


The Farm and Workhouse had opened for February half term with a “Spring Cleaning” event, through the week there were 936 visitors which was slightly lower than previous years but was potentially due to the poor weather.


The main season had begun with a “Welcome to the workhouse” event, this involved all those who were involved with the Voices from the workhouse project and players of the National Lottery 228 visitors attended.


The first full public day of the new season was mother’s day and was supported by the “Women Reaching Women” partnership which attracted 614 visitors. 

The “Gressenhall goes wild” event held on Easter Monday had 232 visitors. They wished to grow this event as it was a great way for visitors to explore site

She confirmed all the event days attracted museum pass sales.


The Chairman queried what soroptimists were. Cllr Jermy confirmed they were a Global volunteer movement to change the lives of women and girls and had been present on Mother’s Day with the “ Women reaching Women” partnership.


Voices from the workhouse. The latter stages of the project was launched on 10th March. Evaluation of the project and spaces used was now being done.


David Blackburn queried if the project had given the opportunity to network with other workhouses.


It was confirmed that Gressenhall had founded a workhouse forum, working with other workhouses in the country who were looking at getting heritage funding. They were not all workhouse buildings but museums that had workhouse collections.


The temporary exhibition was “beer and brewing”. The team had worked with local pubs to tell their stories as they moved into community ownership and how they diversified themselves to fit into modern life.


Collaborate programme - An inspiration day had been held in March. This day involved sharing the collections and stories and enabled people to get involved and understand it. Attendees were encouraged to decorate beer mats to show their local pub showcasing them as community hubs where people met and socialised and played sports.


Megan Dennis Curator had been to Minnesota to spend time at the Humanities forum in Carleton College. She had worked with students to generate some digital output for the Museum iPads. Using the Darwin programming she had added to the project and the workhouse were looking to expand this.


Councillor Ward queried if the digital output would be available to people on their own devices.


It was confirmed that there was a version visitors could download but currently it was a fixed offer, and the Museum would need to look at funding to update that. At present it was available on museum in house iPads, the Museum could update their devices but not the app.


Councillor Kiddle-Morris asked how the college in Minnesota became involved with creating a 3d model of the Workhouse.


The Operations Manager advised their course tutor was interested in workhouses and houses of industry and it was borne from a like minded dream from both sides to create the workhouse in a digital format.


Three further Autism Anglia Earlybird sessions were booked for the year to allow visitors to explore the site with the projections switched off.


Mother’s day had been very successful and the Collections centre saw 81 visitors taking part in their printing activity.


Social media. The Museum was very active on Facebook and Twitter. There was a  blog for the Voices from the Workhouse project.


Farmer’s foundry engine boiler the Museum was waiting for the result of a funding application to enable the engine to be restored.


Volunteers - over the first three months of 2018 volunteers had contributed over 800 hours on site. During 2017 volunteers gave just over 10,000 hours to the Museum.

The Chairman asked how other workhouses utilised their volunteers.

The Operations Manager advised the nearest comparison Workhouse was in Southwell which was run by the National trust that used volunteers. A Workhouse in Wales was run by volunteers.


David Blackburn advised SHARE Museums East, which supported Museum Development in the East of England,worked across the region, and one activity was to support volunteer groups and gave annual awards. Megan Dennis was heavily involved with them.

The Chairman believed it was good to recognise volunteers and repeat visitors.

Councillor Ward queried if Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse held an event to recognise volunteers.

The Operations Manager advised that at the end of summer there was a social event and the held a “thank you” event at Christmas.


School visits - over the last financial year over 10,600 children had visited the site.

The Learning team were working in partnership with NCC to devise days for different groups.


A discussion was had regarding School visits and the struggle some Schools faced not with the cost of entry to the Museum but the coach to get them to the site. There was a degree of flexibility in the amount of activities each school booked for and free resources were available to teachers to use at the school with no fee. There were travel bursaries available to schools to assist them with the cost of travel.


Visitor numbers of 66021 for the year 2017-2018 had been recorded which was almost 5000 up on the previous year.


It was requested that the visitor figures be attached to the minutes.

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