BEAMINSTER MUSEUM EXPANSION PROJECT BLOG
31.3.2021 The volunteer painters are now working 3-4 mornings each week – still guided by the Covid-19 risk assessment.
12.3.2021 The Essential Work Team report good progress with the recovery tasks in the kitchen and toilet, plus tanking. Fittings for the new rooms are placed on order.
11.3.2021 A committee meeting is called to review the unexpected verdict by the SW Fed officer respon sible for volunteering that volunteers officially have parity with workers for the purposes of the roadmap. In other words their status as workers overrides the constraints placed on other members of the public. This arguably legitimises non-essential work from 29th March upwards. It is resolved nevertheless not to schedule Operation Restart from that date, but to wait for wider vaccination coverage.
26.2.2021 Extensive electrical work is being undertaken by professional electrician.
22.2.2021 The Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ announcement reveals a pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel. The exact ramifications for the remainder of the Expansion Project, including Operation Restart, come under careful scrutiny. Much honest interpretation will clearly be required.
19.2.2021 CPG check for pests, and fortunately find none.
8.2.2021 Essential work commences under Covid-secure conditions to complete Phase I without the builders.
5.2.2021 The builders leave.
1.2.2021 Progress continues to be made with the oral history activity. The transcription exercise is well under way, and feelers are being put out to find potential interviewees in our satellite parishes.
28.1.2021 Ninth and final report in: Final plasterwork in progress; scaffolding being removed; remaining jobs relate to drainage and landscaping outside; carpets, walls, dust levels, etc, and all are probably better than feared, but the 25.10.2020 storm damage left its mark in the kitchen and toilet – the broken toilet and flooring have been replaced, but the room needs redecorating, and the kitchen cabinets need attention.
20.1.2021 Storm Christoph helps test the watertightness of the extension, and leads to the roofers being called back in to plug a hole. Better now than later!
14.1.2021 Eighth report in: The windows are in; the roof is almost completed; the inside is dry and the walls are being plastered; there is still more plastering and plasterboard ceilings to be completed, followed by the outside work of surrounding the whole building with gravel; completion date being set for 5th February.
5.1.2021 Electrician starts the work necessary to allow the builders to finish and depart.
4.1.2021 Entire country placed under Covid-19 blanket lockdown, probably until mid-February at the earliest. Given the basic stay-at-home message, this effectively rules out an Easter re-opening, because Operation Restart will take at least seven weeks to accomplish and isn’t ‘essential’ in lockdown terms.
30.12.2020 Beaminster upgraded to Covid Tier 3. It shouldn’t make that much difference in itself, but serves to make volunteers even more wary about offering their services for Operation Restart.
23.12.2020 Builders depart for their festive break, which should give the extension chance to dry out a bit.
17.12.2020 Seventh report in: The zinc roof is almost complete and the building is ‘virtually watertight’. One issue is the national shortage of glass which prevents completion of the windows. The Chairman adds that we are still within budget.
7.12.2020 Committee meeting concludes that a long stay in Tier 2 will endanger Operation Restart as well as any actual re-opening to the public – and that the situation may get worse before it gets better.
26.11.2020 Government announcement that Dorset will be in Tier 2 of Covid-19 restrictions puts Operation Restart under even more pressure. Clarifications urgently sought.
18.11.2020 Sixth report in:Builders, citing ‘difficulties at the beginning’, announce an irretrievable slippage of at least one week, which immediately scuppers Operation Restart; roof steelwork imminent, to be followed by timbering for pitched roof and zinc cladding for glass section; electrician engaged for Phase II work.
17.11.2020 Operation Restart, the plan for rebuilding the museum ready for 2021 opening, is launched. If the builders depart as planned by the end of January, we can just about be ready for Good Friday.
5.11.2020 Fifth report in:Ground floor walls completed; floor and beams of upper level in place; door to gallery extension created; ‘large army of bricklayers’ brought in to make up for lost time; second payment made to builders, making half-way point.
31.10.2020 Second major lockdown is announced. Fortunately the builders saw it coming and stocked up as best they could. Consequently every available square metre of floor space has been given over to storage of bulky items like bags of insulation and some ‘corridors’ no longer exist as such.
30.10.2020 Some unexpected readings on the environmental monitors – very difficult to interpret, but it is clear that we must beware of the potential for high humidity. Heaters to be turned up.
25.10.2020 Bad weather, and the temporary roof over the annexe comes adrift of its moorings, causing a flood in the kitchen. Weather like this obviously exacerbates the previous slippage in the schedule.
16.10.2020 Fourth report in:The big step of pouring the concrete foundations was done a week last Tuesday; depending on the weather, which has not been too kind, the walls should start growing quite quickly; meanwhile details of the glass tunnel between old and new are being discussed; roofing details are being decided, electrics are well in hand and the carpentry items are out for tender; the programme has slipped a week or two, but there is every hope that that can be made up in the next two months.
1.10.2020 Third report in:The digger has gone, the site levelled and blinded with a weak concrete mix, all shuttered up, ready for the pumping in of the concrete; the annexe is now without a back wall or chimney; the kitchen is increased in size by the removal of the chimney, and the kitchen and toilet now have a cosy look with their lower ceilings, giving the museum a large area for storage above them; the annexe walls have been extended, ready for the glazed link between the old and new building; the electrical installation has now been detailed, with us working with a local electrician to get the power into the building when O’Briens have finished; we are about to send out our joinery work (a short staircase, balustrade and door) to tender.
16.9.2020 Second report in: the stone walls of the annexe are being built up to make the first floor of the building; more then half of the 100 tons of spoil have been removed from the site by wheelbarrow and it will soon be time to lay the concrete foundations; wall agreements have been successfully completed, and the contract signed; the site has had its first visit from the building inspector; there is no need for underpinning of the garden wall, but we have found the annexe roof contained many asbestos tiles which required expensive specialist removal.
1.9.2020 First report in: wall in former Education Room demolished; annexe roof demolished; kitchen/toilet ceiling removed; surface stone in yard mostly removed; excavation begun. In a change of plan, kitchen chimney breast behind sink to be demolished and wall rebuilt – mainly for weightbearing reasons, but will also expand kitchen slightly (and require reconstruction of sink cabinet).
28.8.2020 Bank Holiday rush is met with Beaminster’s unofficial traffic calming measures: a pick-up truck parked outside the emergency doors and a plank across the pavement for rubble-bearing wheelbarrows.
19.8.2020 Construction work begins in earnest.
17.8.2020 Builders arrive, block the entrance with their signboard and promptly disappear again.
7.8.2020 Preliminary meeting with builders is held on site.
31.7.2020 Preparation of the building in terms of clearance and protection is completed on schedule.
28.7.2020 Our own volunteer builders start work in earnest to ensure that the contractors (who won’t be looking after the electrical aspect) have minimal opportunity to damage our existing supply within the building. Their initial drilling into concrete causes an unforeseen dust storm and triggers the smoke alarm, just to remind us what we can expect when the contractors arrive!
18.7.2020 It is agreed that the builders will start work on August 17, a month earlier than the previous schedule – this is an indirect result of the earlier decision not to open to the public at all in 2020.
12.7.2020 One of our number, actively involved in the protection work, tests positive for Covid-19. All contacts are identified and informed. A second test is negative, so nobody has to self-isolate after all.
3.7.2020 The chairman’s attempt to free up storage space by disposing of our rationalised mannequins flounders when (a) his car full of naked ladies breaks down while illegally parked outside the museum, and (b) he’s turned away from the tip. Black comedy!
1.7.2020 Preparation plans are thrown into some disarray by the discovery of a moth infestation in the Agriculture section. Steps will be taken to eradicate as swiftly as possible.
28.6.2020 Plan B regarding preparation for the construction phase is released in its first draft.
17.6.2020 The sheds in the yard have now been emptied and dismantled. The storage dilemma has officially begun!
16.6.2020 A reply is received at last to our query seeking best advice for artefact protection.
13.6.2020 Volunteers are requested to confirm their availability for socially distanced work in the museum to prepare for the construction phase.
12.6.2020 The momentous decision is taken not to re-open the museum in 2020. The main reason is Covid-19, but there are clear implications for the Expansion Project, the least the definitive realisation that the memory café and school holiday pilots will have to be deferred until after the construction phase.
3.6.2020 The SHG plan is further refined, despite there still being no indication that we’ll be able to host the activity days this summer because of Covid-19 restrictions.
27.5.2020 The LGOG plan for maintaining necessary operations and offering fundraising events through the winter is completed.
24.5.2020 The plan for improving our oral history collection and its accessibility is agreed.
23.5.2020 Draft SHG & LGOG project plans are issued for review and completion.
22.5.2020 A productive Zoom meeting is held by SCG with Matthew, their technology advisor. There are plans to use the Expansion Project as a springboard for further exciting initiatives.
17.5.2020 The museum receives a donation from a funeral collection specifically towards the ‘Memory Café’.
14.5.2020 After much soul-searching it is resolved that we cannot be ready for an earlier-than-planned start by the builders without breaching government guidelines on self-isolation and social distancing.
7.5.2020 Dilemma! Out of the blue, the builders offer to start work on 15.6, less than six weeks from now. Some say go for it; some say that the preparation work is impossible during ‘lockdown’.
6.5.2020 The assumptions list is returned to CPG, demonstrating that some assumptions were mistaken. So it was clearly a useful exercise.
3.5.2020 FCG is completed with the addition of two further members.
2.5.2020 The eighth activity group leader is agreed. One to go!
30.4.2020 Volunteers are asked to join MSG.
29.4.2020 An assumptions list is completed by CPG to be checked by PSG. This is designed to give CPG a better idea of what needs to be protected and what space will be available for storage.
26.4.2020 SCG create a high-level plan for their remit, including enhcancing our Oral History offering.
24.4.2020 A reply from the local Dementia Champions seems to indicate we have a basis for creating the memory café, even though there are issues to resolve on both sides. Advice is sought from our museum mentor regarding artefact protection.
23.4.2020 Volunteers are asked to join the LGOG and ITG.
20.4.2020 A seventh activity group leader is agreed. Two to go!
16.4.2020 An exploratory letter is sent to the local Dementia Champions, suggesting a partnership to run the memory café pilot.
14.4.2020 Recruitment to the CPG is completed. An ‘initial thoughts’ document, including a draft set of assumptions is sent out to members for information.
7.4.2020 We’re informed by the builders that there’s no reason to assume that the construction phase will be delayed by the backlog resulting from the coronavirus crisis.
6.4.2020 Alec is announced as Contract Administrator. He will work with the Project Steering Group and PCRM to focus on the success of the first construction phase.
4.4.2020 … and a sixth leader is identified. Three to go!
2.4.2020 A fifth activity group leader position is filled. Four to go!
1.4.2020 Our press release starts to show up in local publications. The first appearance is in the coronavirus-enforced electronic version of the Marshwood Vale magazine.
31.3.2020 We commence recruiting for the Collections Protection Group (CPG), whose job it will be to ensure maximum protection with minimum disruption when the builders move in. There are, naturally enough, different views as to the extent of, and best approach to, the task.
26.3.2020 Four of the activity group leader positions are filled. The vacant positions are re-advertised for a further week.
25.3.2020 We hear that the first (50%) instalment of our funding is on the way. There are no immediate bills to pay, but it means we can press on with confidence.
23.3.2020 HMG’s latest pronouncements regarding coronavirus undoubtedly make life even more difficult. Advice regarding self-isolation and social distancing is totally at odds with the spirit of volunteer engagement in the project.
19.3.2020 We’ve advertised for activity group leaders in the weekly volunteers’ newletter. Much of any early work required will clearly have to be done without physically meeting.
17.3.2020 Two mad, mad days as the coronavirus crisis deepens. We’ve gradually had all our events for the first half of the summer cancelled, have announced that the season’s opening will be delayed until June 20 at the earliest, and have decided to suspend volunteer mornings. By adhering to government advice as we interpret it, this puts in serious doubt some of the plans we had for delivering the Approved Purposes for which the NLHF grant was awarded. Our funders have been made aware of the general issue, but we need to come up with revised timescale proposals as soon as we can.
15.3.2020 We’ve been hit amidships by the latest coronavirus developments. If, as seems likely, the over-70s are going to be asked to stay at home for a long period of time, then our volunteer resources will be decimated. But we don’t know the details yet.
14.3.2020 The Project Plan is launched to cover all aspects of the months ahead. It divides the bulk of the effort required between nine activity groups, each with a specific focus. The first task is for the PSG (Project Steering Group) is to appoint a leader for each activity group.
13.3.2020 Friday the thirteenth, and we’re off! We learn we have ‘permission to start’ and can begin the project in earnest. Bid has notified the local press accordingly.
CG (Courses Group)
CPG (Collection Protection Group)
FCG (Festival / Community Group)
ITG (IT Group)
LGOG (Life Goes On Group)
MCG (Memory Café Group)
SCG (Support Collection Group)
SHG (School Holidays Group)