Hear about the positive impact that our Small Grants Scheme has had for our members in their own words.
Essex Fire Museum
The Essex Police Museum applied for a grant for £380 to help with the preservation and care of our paper collection in storage. Our original storage boxes were just standard office boxes, they were overfilled, heavy and a health and safety risk to the team.
We spent the £380 on 32 new acid free storage boxes. They are smaller in height than the previous boxes, so they contain less material, making them lighter to carry which is a huge improvement for the museum staff. This also benefits the documents, giving them less room to move and fewer items stacked within the box, therefore preventing any damage.
Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome
We were awarded a Small Grant from Museums Essex to clean and restore a sword belonging to one of the Pilots that was based at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome in 1916. The sword and the scabbard will be displayed in our Claude Ridley room, which tells the fascinating story of Ridley’s time in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force.
We purchased a mount cutter and mounting board with our Small Grant. We have a museum assistant who is trained in mount cutting and he has put it to immediate use. Since then we have been able to mount new acquisitions and older items that we were not previously able to mount. The result being that the items are better preserved and presented. Mounted items have included social history posters, works of art on paper and items from the Essex Regiment Museum collection.
Mersea Island Museum
The museum has a collection of maps and plans including old ordnance survey maps, local tithe maps, maritime charts and some very interesting speculative plans from the early 1900s when some developers hoped to turn West Mersea into a fashionable seaside resort. They were kept in a map chest in an upstairs store, due to lack of suitable space elsewhere. This made it difficult to carry items down without subjecting them to excessive handling. Since the building of our Resource Centre four years ago we have seen a considerable increase in the number of people wanting to use the facilities for research and one popular request is to see our map collection. In order to facilitate this, the museum applied for a grant from the Museums Essex Small Grants Scheme to purchase acid-free folders to store and transport the maps. Thanks for the grant, we were able to use these maps in our summer exhibition titled ‘Mersea in 1914 – the end of an era’.
The outbreak of war put an end to the rather grandiose plans, previously mentioned, to develop a resort with large areas of housing, tennis courts, concert halls and a light railway from Colchester to connect with a pier and steamers to Bradwell and Tollesbury. Some of the most interesting and colourful of these schemes were displayed to illustrate how Mersea could have looked if the plans had come to fruition.
Little Baddow History Centre
Our sound archive covering several decades of our villagers speaking about their memories of our village past was originally recorded on tape cassettes. This format was difficult to use and not very accessible. Thanks to the benefit of the Small Grant they have all been rerecorded.
We decided that the most effective way for visitors to access the archive was to arrange our centre so that our visitors can enjoy listening to our sound archive and DVD collection in a dedicated corner with seating. All the titles together with subtitles have now been loaded onto an Ipad enabling the visitor to search the archive. We have also purchased a DVD player which enables easy access for listening to them together with sets of earphones that can be purchased cheaply should they prefer to listen privately.
We now have a volunteer who is transcribing the CDs so that we can load these details onto our computer for a more detailed search of the subjects covered.
This has proved very popular and has given the Centre a further facility, which we feel gives our visitors more value and interest to their visit.