Museums in Ludlow threatened as cut backs favour Shrewsbury

Ludlow has one of the finest heritage resource centres in the country. The Ludlow Museum Resource Centre is now under threat as Shropshire Council makes staff redundant and fails to put a plan in place for long term maintenance and access to the collections.

The Museum Resource Centre has excellent historical and archaeological collections, and a nationally important geological collection. It currently has three staff that curate the collections, provide expertise on geology and palaeontology, support researchers, and organise education and outreach activities. This is not just a facility for Ludlow, it is a county resource and the collections are studied by researchers from across the country (more details of the collections).

Almost all of this is set to come to an end. The three posts at the Ludlow Museum Resource Centre are to go. They are to be replaced with a half-time post based in Shrewsbury.

In the short term, we are worried about the impact the cuts will have on the Buttercross project. Before Christmas, Paul Draper the Mayor of Ludlow said:

Ludlow Town Council is very concerned that Ludlow will lose all of its museum expertise when the town council are working to create the Buttercross Heritage Interpretation Centre and Museum. Ludlow Resource Centre is the conservation laboratory of the county, and the Town Council has been impressed by the wealth of knowledge held by the Resource Centre’s staff. However, it now seems that the Resource Centre will be mothballed and the local expertise that has supported the Buttercross Museum will be lost.

The Buttercross project was always seen as partnership with Shropshire Council which relied on expertise of the staff at the Museum Resource Centre. Regrettably, Shropshire Council has proved to be an unreliable partner, first withdrawing agreed funding, then giving it back and now making redundant the expertise that would have supported the Buttercross project during its early years.

In the long term, we are worried about how the collections in Ludlow will be maintained and conserved, and how researchers will gain access to them.

Times are hard. Cut have to be made. The best way to manage cuts is to have a strategy in place. But Shropshire Council doesn’t have a heritage strategy. It doesn’t have a plan for maintaining its collections and sustaining expertise in a time of cuts. It is only concerned with saving money, not with saving a past that is so much part of this county’s and this town’s future.

The Shropshire councillors overseeing heritage have been dazzled by the new Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery at the Music Hall. It’s a fine place and I am sure will be a great success. But we still need to invest in curating collections, giving researchers access and educating people about this county’s fantastic heritage, including here in Ludlow.

Ludlow is a heritage town. We need our Museum Resource Centre.

The Friends of the Museum are holding a public meeting 11.00am, this Thursday 22 January at Oscars in the Assembly Rooms. I hope you can be there.

Read more about the Museum Resource Centre in the latest edition of the Ludlow Ledger.