Lotto cash, not worms, keeps rain out

PUBLISHED: 13:36 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:22 15 June 2010

BEFORE Allhallows Museum benefited from a £45,000 Heritage Lottery grant, volunteer Trevor Hitchcock used to say part of the building's roof was being held up by woodworms holding hands".

BEFORE Allhallows Museum benefited from a £45,000 Heritage Lottery grant, volunteer Trevor Hitchcock used to say part of the building's roof was being held up by "woodworms holding hands".Two years and 11,480 volunteer hours later, Honiton's oldest building is standing proud, boasting state-of-the art conservation storage, a modern archive section and even a ground floor study room that serves as a Devon Record Office service point.More than 300 people marked the completion of the project, attending an open day."The grant was awarded to replace the roof on part of the building and make everything more accessible to the public," explains museum archivist and curator Margaret Lewis."We have replaced the attic floor. The space has had a new floor every hundred years for the past three centuries. Some 300-year-old, hand-made nails were discovered during the work."The attic is now home to the museum's costume collection, which is stored in conservation grade boxes on specialist shelving units."Everything has got a proper place now," said Margaret. "We can find things in minutes, not days."An expert told us the roof was in the worst state he had ever seen."Trevor Hitchcock said it was only woodworms holding hands that kept it up."Work on the roof has improved the temperature and humidity inside the museum, aiding volunteers' efforts to preserve Honiton's past.The A Future for Our Past project enabled the museum to invest in a modern archive system for old photographs, which have all been scanned and indexed."If anybody comes in now and says they want to buy an old photograph of Honiton Railway Station we can find a picture in about a minute-and-a-half, because everything is on a database," said Margaret.The Heritage Lottery grant has also allowed the museum to buy a projector and other equipment, which means volunteers can give presentations in the community.Allhallows' study room has been damp-proofed and is proving a magnet for those researching family history. It has been the source of numerous reunions.Reflecting on the improvements made, Margaret told the Herald: "The museum is now secure for a considerable time. However, because it is the oldest building in the town, there will always be some work to do!


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