Expansion plan for Welwyn Hatfield museums

THE Welwyn Hatfield Museum service wants to expand its HQ, despite attendance figures shrinking by 30 per cent.

The Mill Green Museum along with the Welwyn Roman Baths, welcomed nearly 19,000 visitors in 2011-2012, a significant decrease from the 2010-2011 figure of 27,344.

Caroline Rawle, director of the museum service, said this was due to the introduction of an adult entrance fee in April 2011 to balance borough council spending cuts of 26 per cent.

It was also decided to close the museums on Fridays and Saturdays – the least busy days – to stop staff redundancies.

But, despite the drop in visitor numbers income generated by admission fees hit �7,000, and educational school visits are currently fully booked until December this year.

Now Ms Rawle is looking to continue this success by looking to expand facilities at Mill Green Museum.

The plan is to try to seek lottery funding and then open up the old stable block into a visitor area and extend the current kitchen and run cooking and baking displays and courses.

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She said: “It’s very much in the early planning stages and we’ve not had a proper conversation with the lottery people yet.

“But we are looking at ways to expand and we would welcome anyone to get in contact with us if they have any ideas.

“Another potential idea is an interctive gallery with displays about milling and baking at the mill.”

Ms Rawle added that part of the success was down to the help of the 60 to 90 volunteers who worked at the museums every week.

She said: “They help with everything from digitalising the photographs and documents in the archives, updating the website and making cream teas.

“I am very grateful for their support.”