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Newmarket history group suffers setback in bid for new museum



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Plans to set up a museum, to showcase the history of Newmarket, have received a setback after an offer to rent premises in Palace Street was rejected by the district council.

The offer came from the community museum working group set up by the town council to try to find a permanent home for historic artefacts, photographs and documents currently in possession of members of the Newmarket Local History Society (NLHS).

The group put together a business plan and offered to pay £7,500 a year to West Suffolk District Council to rent the Old Coach House, on which the authority had reportedly spent £110,000 renovating hoping to rent it for around £30,000 a year.

Plans to set up a museum, to showcase the history of Newmarket, have received a setback after an offer to rent premises in Palace Street was rejected by the district council. Picture Mark Westley
Plans to set up a museum, to showcase the history of Newmarket, have received a setback after an offer to rent premises in Palace Street was rejected by the district council. Picture Mark Westley

The council had identified a prospective tenant but when that fell through, the museum working group made its approach.

The aim of the museum would be to showcase the full story of the town’s community, including its archaeology and its medieval, wartime and Royal history.

At a meeting of the town council’s neighbourhood plan committee on Monday, working group member Richard Fletcher, who was also representing the trustees of the National Horseracing Museum, said the trustees supported the establishment of a community museum and, while the search for suitable premises went on, were prepared to offer space in Palace House to the NLHS for a limited exhibition to gauge interest in the concept of a community museum.

National Horseracing Museum, Palace Street
National Horseracing Museum, Palace Street

Cllr Andy Drummond questioned whether an offer should have been made to rent the Old Coach House as neither it, nor the working group’s business plan, had been brought to the full council for discussion and approval.

Town mayor Cllr Michael Jefferys said: “We could not bring it to the council until we found out what West Suffolk thought of that offer. We felt the figure we were able to offer was better than nothing and we are disappointed.”

The working group will continue the search for permanent premises for a museum.