New Museum faces another ‘rather frustrating’ delay
21st December 2016 – Crawley Observer
By Karen Dunn
The latest delay in the development of the town’s new museum has been described as “rather frustrating” by the curator.
Members of Crawley Museum Society had hoped building work at The Tree, on the corner of London Road and The Boulevard, would be completed in September, allowing them to start fitting out their new home.
In a letter to people who had volunteered to help out once the museum was open, Helen Poole said: “Unfortunately, as so often happens in projects of this size, the timescale has slipped.
“It is now almost certain that we shan’t be on site until next spring and only then can we start installing the next phase, which focuses on the displays.”
She told the volunteers: The upshot is that we can’t start the training until much later than we had originally planned, which is rather frustrating all round.”
The museum had been housed in tiny premises in Goffs Park House, Old Horsham Road, but a move to The Tree had been planned for a number of years.
The move was made possible thanks to a £1.15 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £763,000 from Crawley Borough Council. As for the work itself, the Grade II listed building is being refurbished by Crawley-based RDjW Architects, Stoneham Construction Ltd and historic buildings consultants Oxley Conservation.
They may not be able to move in just yet, but the museum team is not wasting any time, Artefacts are being carefully wrapped and boxed and some careful planning had to be done to ensure their prize exhibit a 1903 Rex Forecar – would fit into its new home.
Helen was assigned as curator on a two-year contract. That was eight years ago and her enthusiasm has not waned.
She said: “My hope is the museum will be very much part of people’s normal thinking about Crawley, the same way that The Hawth is. Our aim is to make something Crawley will be proud of.”
The Tree has stood in the centre of Crawley for more than 700 years and has seen generations of townsfolk come and go.
It has been used as a private home, office, rent office and many other things in between. Once the work is finished and the exhibits are in pace, the museum should be open each week from Wednesday to Sunday.
If you would like to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org