Empire Museum collection given to Bristol

The vast collection will be taken over by Bristol City Council and put on show at the City Museum, the trustees said yesterday

British Empire and Commonwealth Museum

British Empire and Commonwealth Museum

The vast collection of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum (BECM) will be taken over by Bristol City Council and put on show at the City Museum, the trustees said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the site of the museum, which closed to the public in 2008, at Temple Meads station could become a rail platform for fast trains to London.

The museum’s trustees had planned to move the collection to a new site in London, but financial constraints have meant they have finally decided against the move.

Following talks with Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archive Service, part of Bristol City Council, collections will be transferred by Deed of Gift to the City - a signed document that voluntarily and without recompense transfers ownership of real, personal, or intellectual property.

Plans for Brunel’s Old Station building could also see part of the building return to its original design purpose – a platform extension to support Network Rail’s ambitions for a fast mainline link from Bristol to London.

The building will be purchased by Bristol City Council and could form an integral part of their plans for Bristol’s Enterprise Zone nearby.

Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of the trustees of BECM, said: “BECM’s Trustees have been dedicated to securing a good home for the museum’s outstanding collections and the agreement with the city enables the collections to stay together in the care of excellent new guardians and to form the basis for improved opportunities for access by the wider public as we had always aimed to deliver.

“We are also delighted that the Passenger Shed may once again be used for its original purpose. ”

Meanwhile, deputy council leader Simon Cook added: “We are delighted at the outcome of our discussions with British Empire and Commonwealth Museum.

“The collections will form an important and most appropriate addition to the city’s holdings and we look forward to making them available for study, through exhibitions and as a further enhancement of our educational programmes. We would anticipate that the collections will eventually be displayed in the City Museum.”

The Grade I listed BECM building has been bought by the Homes and Communities Agency (HAC) and ownership is due to be transferred to the council “to support the delivery of a new creative industries hub and improved transport links in the heart of the city”.

David Warburton, head of HAC, told the BBC it was “vital that Brunel’s Old Station is used to its full potential”.

“People will be aware that the electrification of the line happens in 2016. There’s the opportunity to use some of this building to further enhance that. That’s one possibility that we’re working through with the city council and Network Rail.”

A Network Rail spokeswoman said the company sees “there is the potential of restoring disused rail infrastructure that was removed previously”.

One Response to Empire Museum collection given to Bristol
  1. Tim
    March 30, 2012 | 9:43 am

    It's really nice to see that the museum's trustees have decided to gift the collection as a whole to the City. That way it stays together and in Bristol and could be hosted in its own place again in the future.

    The idea to use parts of those buildings for platforms for the future electric trains to London is also quite brilliant, though I wonder how realistic it is given train lengths etc. Still, I hope it works out.

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