NORTH DEVON MUSEUM TRUST
Saturday 14th November 2020
at 11am via Zoom due to Covid-19 restrictions
(MG) Mike Guegan – Chairman of Committee
(PC) Peter Christie – Trustee
(DY) Diana Yendell – Committee Member
(FC) Fiona Cousins – Administrator
(MM) Mark Myers – Committee Member
(TD) Tom Downie – Committee Member
(GH) Geoff Humphrey – Committee Member
(CW) Chris Walke – Committee Member
(AG) Amanda Gratton – Committee Member
(JM) Jackie MacFarlane – Committee Member
Apologies: None Received
1. Welcome and Apologies
MG welcomed all. No apologies for absence were received. MG told all that last week the Museum had been made aware of the death of Keith Abraham, a Trustee and the Museum’s President. All were deeply saddened at his passing as he has been a strong supporter of the Museum since inception. Whilst it was too late for an article in this year’s Heritage, DY is due to write to the local papers with information regarding Keith and his involvement with the Museum.
2. Signing of the AGM Minutes of 16th November 2019
The Minutes were agreed and signed.
3. Matters Arising from the Minutes of 16th November 2019
No matters arising
4. Sub Committee Reports
MG said that his report is mostly contained in the written piece he provided to the Heritage Magazine. MG said it had been the strangest of years. Due to Covid-19 the opening of the Museum was delayed and then further cancelled for the remainder of the season. The Museum at present is hoping to open in April 2021 however this will be dependent upon government legislation and the practicalities of opening during a pandemic. However, MG said that during this year the Museum had not been quiet. The time had been used to update exhibits and carry out essential maintenance. MG thanked everyone who had stepped forward and helped. MG said that during the summer, although few were able to witness it, the garden looked splendid. MG said he was sorry to hear that the Museum had lost volunteers this year and was personally shocked at the death of Andrea. MG mentioned the shipyard and said that it had been purchased by Infrastrata. There had been some movement with areas being painted and this morning a barge was moored off the Newquay Yard.
MG thanked the volunteers for their continued support. MG voiced his concern regarding next season and whether there would be gaps in the Rota as some volunteers may decide to retire. However, MG said that this would be dealt with next year.
MG said that he was going into the Museum later as there had been an issue with the Remembrance Day Flag and both he and Tom needed to detangle it.
CW presented the 2019-2020 account and said that he hoped many of the volunteers had studied them. CW explained that this year the accounts had been published on the website and in the Heritage Magazine. CW summarized the financial position and asked at the end if those present would approve the accounts through the online poll. CW showed various slides.
Slide 1 – Slide 1 showed income totaling £29884, which included a grant of £10k from the Bideford Bridge Trust. Expenditure was £14706, giving a surplus for the year of £15178.
Slide 2 – CW said the total balances at the end of the financial year came to £84833. This did include unspent grant monies of around £18k, but included the £10K as discussed above. CW said that at this point the Museum are in a fairly healthy financial position.
Slide 3 – As a result of comments received last year requesting up to date figures CW produced a further slide that showed the figures for the first half of the current year. CW explained that the Museum had not been open at all this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic. This has meant a significant drop in revenue, while many expenses have continued to accrue. Up to the end of September 2020, the Museum has spent £4374, whilst income has only been £2358. However, CW said that a government Covid19 Support Grant of £25k had been received which means that as of end of September 2020 there is a surplus of £22984. CW stressed that these monies will have to see the Museum through the rest of the year as expenditure continues.
Slide 4 – CW said that part of the AGM includes the confirmation of the continued appointment of the Museum’s auditor, Grenville Ford. However, Grenville has notified the Museum recently that he is to retire. As of yet a replacement has not been found but all will be notified when the Museum does so. Grenville was thanked for the valuable work he has undertaken over the years.
CW then handed over to AG to conduct the vote for the agreement of the accounts.
CW proposed – All agreed via the virtual poll
A volunteer asked if the grants were time limited. It was confirmed that they were not but that most had some expenditure but were not exhausted.
PC then spoke on behalf of the Bideford Bridge Trust and said that although the grant application in 2020 had not been successful, the BBT had tentatively set aside £30k against which the Museum could bid for a specific time-limited project. This refers to a potential boat display building. It was agreed that some detailed planning and consultation work needed to be in progress before such a grant could be applied for.
Museum and Exhibit Renovations
AG said that the decision not to open this year had given everyone the opportunity to spend some time refreshing and re-thinking the Museum exhibits.
AG provided some photos to show all at the AGM the works that had been carried out to date in the Museum.
AG said that room 1 needed a rethink and work had since been carried out to the exhibits and the labelling, that hasn’t aged well, in that room. The Grenville case was now a navigational display and the ship’s wheel had been moved alongside. Benson’s ship had been moved into the hallway, so that the Newfoundland display can be seen, and replaced with the custom house chest. The hallway would also display paintings from the collection in the archive rooms.
Initially little work was to be done to the kitchen – however once the kitchen wall was removed a lot of space was revealed. TD has restored the mantle-piece and maintained various other areas. This room will now be used as a visual audio room.
Appledore Quay and Richmond Dock – the glass to the cabinets for these displays had been renovated with the unsightly joining strip removed so that the view is not obstructed. Appledore Quay has had an additional vessel “The Kathleen and May” added. Shelves have been put up by Richmond Dock exhibit and these will house in-house Museum books as well as other publications.
Room 4 – MG had carried out extensive work in this room and the right-hand wall by the window has been prepared ready for an exhibit on HMS Bideford.
AG said that the Museum in 2021 will reflect “The Last Gasp of Sail” and exhibits in this regard will be placed all around the staircase. A large map will be put on the wall depicting the trade routes of the last sailing vessels in the Bristol Channel and there will be further explanatory boards as you go up the staircase. AM said that this was a work in progress and there was plenty to keep those volunteering to help busy. Additional practical help may be required in the future.
MG said that the off-white figurehead will be lifted off the floor and set up roughly at the angle it would have been on a vessel. MG explained that this figurehead was the one placed on the stairs and donated by Vernon Boyle.
TD said that the Anderson Shelter had now gone up to Appledore School.
TD said due to the second lockdown work on the kitchen was a little behind but TD would catch up. A new cupboard will be installed to house the large model of the Bideford Steam Ship which was recently brought back to the Museum from the Bideford Art Gallery. Lighting for the kitchen will also have to be discussed.
5. Management Committee and Trustees:-
After 3 years service as members of the Management Committee, the following offer themselves for re-election:
MC proposed – All agreed via the virtual poll
It was noted at the AGM that Mark Myers who had been up for re-election was in fact re-elected last year, 2019.
FC said that whilst the Museum hoped to open in April, prior to that taking place, the Museum would work on plans to keep all of the volunteers safe. Whilst the museum presently has Covid-19 risk assessment in place these would be looked at more fully nearer to the time of opening.
Judith Byrne asked whether the Museum had any links with the latest owners of Richmond Dock – MG said no and that any plans for its opening were through a private venture. MG said that he was concerned regarding its viability due to a study that was carried out a number of years ago. The study flagged up the issues with car parking as it would seem impossible to provide parking for the proposed 50,000 new visitors to Appledore. Further, MG said that the costs to open would be excessive as no electricity was presently on site.
However, MG said its opening would hopefully bring a further footfall to the Museum. Keith Edwards said that that a way forward may be to look at the management of Charlestown which too suffered from minimal parking but still catered for large amounts of visitors.
Jane Swindail said that she would be donating the money for Andrea to Chemo Heroes shortly and asked that if anyone had any monies they wished to donate to contact her after the meeting. So far the amount stood at £160.
MG said that there had been no offers for the role of volunteers’ rep. It was noted that DY would carry out the work for the following year but then it would be good for a further volunteer to step forward.
MG thanked everyone for coming onto Zoom and said it was a shame that there could be no tea and cakes and that hopefully next year all would return to a “new” normal.
Meeting ended 11.34 am