Museum to close to make way for Town Centre Library

Supporters dismayed at decision - vowing "the fight is not over"


Wandsworth Museum threatened with closure

Labour Speak Out on Museum Closure Issue

Cllr Lister & the future of Wandsworth Museum

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On Wednesday evening councillors voted to close not only Wandsworth Museum but also two further assets the West Hill Library and the Alvering library.

An unprecedented number of supporters of the Museum turned up to voice their concerns at such levels that the leisure and environment overview and scrutiny committee meeting had to be moved into the full council chamber.

John Horrocks of the Putney Society said, " The turnout of concerned Wandsworth residents at this town hall Committee meeting was unprecedented.  It was a clear demonstration of the anger the proposal to close the Museum has generated across the whole community."

The meeting of debate lasted over three and half hours before the committee voted to close the Museum which they claim the Council cannot afford to run the Museum and that their plans are to use the building to provide a library in the centre of the borough. 

Executive member for environment and leisure Malcolm Grimston said,“All the evidence shows that the most successful libraries are sited in busy town centres where they are easily accessible to large numbers of people. By investing in a new library in the heart of Wandsworth the council is reaffirming its commitment to the continued revitalisation of this area."

“I understand why museum users find it difficult to support the council’s plans today. I am sure that the new library that will emerge from this building in 2009 will quickly become a source of great pride to people from throughout Wandsworth.”

On the forum many members have proposed alternative means of funding the museum from Corporate sponsorship to "Friends of the Wandsworth Museum" and we understand that an in dependant body is trying to establish a way forward to keep the artifacts under one roof.

Cedric Peachy a local resident and campaigner to keep the Museum compared visitor figures with other borough based museums:

Bromley Museum: 16,800
The Cuming Museum (Southwark):  12,300
Gunnersbury Park Museum (Ealing & Hounslow):  21,100
Museum of Croydon:  33,700
Redbridge Museum:  18,800
Kingston Museum:  19,900

If we move to specialised museums that pull in visitors from
across and outside London, we find the following:

Kew Bridge Steam Museum:  18-20,000 visitors per year plus
1,000 schoolchildren.  Open six days a week.

Museum of Garden History, Lambeth:  15-20,000 visitors per year.
Open seven days a week.  

Fulham Palace Museum:  prior to recent closure and refurbishment,
12,000 visitors per year.

John Horrocks continued, "When has there ever, before, been an issue which has united all the local amenity societies across the whole borough in opposition to a proposal coming, as this one does, from just one Councillor? It was especially disappointing to see our Putney Councillors, despite all the concerns expressed by their constituents, voting in the way they had clearly been told to do.  I had hoped they would have done better for Putney than this." 

"The fight to save the Museum is not yet over.  There are further meetings at the town hall to be held on the issue - wiser voices may yet prevail."

February 20, 2007