Rocks By Rail in Cottesmore, Rutland, has announced that they have taken the decision to not reopen in 2020.
The issues surrounding Covid19 and its impact on the small museum has lead to Rocks By Rail taking this decision.
Plenty of work will be completed behind the scenes by socially-distanced volunteers during the off-season.
Rocks By Rail has released the following statement regarding their closure:
“Our museum is wholly run by volunteers and the majority of our committed workers fall within the COVID -19 pandemics “vulnerable” category, largely due to age. The health and well-being of our museum members, together with our visitors, is naturally our primary concern.”
“At the time of the introduction of the government restrictions the museum volunteers were engaged on a major rail track re-building project together with improvements to our visitor reception building and works to address deficiencies in provision for disabled visitors noted at an earlier Audit. Upon the implementation of the restrictions on non -essential travel the majority of our museum workforce stayed at home, with a number shielding. Only a small group of local members subsequently visited the site for security and maintenance, whilst only slow progress was possible on the construction of the track re-build. The track project has been thus subject to an unavoidable major delay and significant work is still needed to re-connect the tracks before steam hauled visitor trains can operate again on Open Days.”
“Work on the visitor reception building ceased during the restrictions with further work to ceiling and wiring still needed. At the present time it is not possible to offer contactless payments to visitors upon entry.”
“Work on the disabled access improvements have yet to fully commence. A Grant had been offered just prior to lockdown for these works and the Visitor Reception Building will need to be taken out of service to allow volunteers to treat to the floor surfaces, whilst other works need to be undertaken around other museum buildings.
“The Museum has noted the changed government advice on the potential re-opening of heritage sites and Museums together with the steps necessary to maintain two metre social distancing and other mitigation, including use of PPE and face coverings on train trips.
“In line with government advice the Museum has taken soundings from within its own volunteer workforce and scoped out a COVID 19 Risk Assessment. The results of these two initiatives confirm the nature and scope of the very significant changes that would be necessary to the way the museum currently operates when open. The Museum prides itself on providing a friendly welcome and informative volunteers to explain the heritage behind the museum to visitors. The introduction of two metre social distancing clearly compromises this objective and adversely affects what the museum can offer to visitors to a significant degree.
“Having recently met and taking all these considerations into account the Museum’s Trustee Board have come to the conclusion, with some sadness, that the museum should not re-open to the general public until Easter 2021.
“However socially distanced volunteering at the museum will continue over the autumn and winter to complete the outstanding delayed projects, implement new initiatives and prepare to welcome visitors back to a full programme of events next year. The majority of Exhibitions planned for 2020 will now take place in 2021. This will include commemoration of the anniversary of the liberation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPOW) in WW2 at the end of August where we hope to complement the activities of other FEPOW organisations who have postponed their commemorations of the anniversary of VJ Day this August until next year due to coronavirus pandemic considerations on mass gatherings.
“The Trustee Board fully appreciate that this decision will cause some sadness amongst potential visitors and the decision has not been lightly taken. The pandemic has caused clearly significant dislocation to museum activities and finances but we look forward to better times ahead as confidence slowly returns.
“Whilst the museum will remain closed to visitors until Easter 2021 anybody who would like to support the continuing work of the museum can send donations by post to Mr A Salmon, RbR Treasurer, 4 Main Street, Stanford on Soar, Loughborough LE12 5PY. Cheques should be made payable to “Rutland Railway Museum”
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