Council agrees to pursue plan to set up a local history museum for Newmarket
Councillors have joined forces with members of Newmarket Local History Society and residents in a bid to establish a local history museum for the town. And they are pressing West Suffolk Council to allow use of the Coach House, in Palace Street, for the project.
A museum chronicling the non-racing history of the town is one of the community actions proposed in the Newmarket Neighbourhood Plan, which was formally adopted earlier this year and suggested such a museum could be combined with a tourist information centre and creative arts centre complementing the neighbouring National Horseracing Museum.
Members of the local history society have for years been desperate for a permanent home for the artefacts, historic documents and photographs they have which are currently stored at members’ homes, not available to the public and always in danger of being lost.
“We are keen that Newmarket’s own history should be told accurately, other than that of just its involvement with horse racing,” said society chair Sandra Easom. “The National Horseracing Museum has excellent presentations of this.”
And she has suggested a host of topics which could form displays at such a museum including Newmarket’s Bronze and Iron Age history, its mills, pubs and inns, and the arrival of the railway.
There could also be exhibitions linked to some of its famous residents including Second World War code breaker Bill Tutte and the town’s medical history.
Former town councillor, now racing museum trustee, Richard Fletcher, said the project would rely on West Suffolk Council offering the coach house premises, which were used by the town council some years ago when the memorial hall was being refurbished, on a peppercorn rent. It is currently being advertised for rent at £30,000 a year.
“The idea of Palace Street as a cultural quarter with the National Horseracing Museum and a town museum close to All Saints’ Church which is set to undergo a re-vamp and even the proximity of the Jockey Club with its marvellous art collection, is appealing,” he said.
A working group has now been formed by the town council to pursue the idea with members including Cllr Andrew Appleby, chairman of its neighbourhood plan, committee, Sandra Easom and Joan Shaw of the local history society, and Richard Fletcher.