Celebrations for Tourist Information Service

Staff from Tiverton’s Tourist Information Service joined leading businesses from across Devon on 22 November as 80 Dartington Crystal trophies were presented in the 2018 Devon Tourism Awards at a prestigious awards dinner in the Palazzo at Highbullen Hotel, Golf and Country Club.

Visitor Information Officers Carrie Thomas and Liz Brooks were delighted to collect their Bronze award for Visitor Information Service of the Year for the second year in a row. Carrie Thomas said: ‘We may be the ones picking up the award but it is really a reflection of the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of our wonderful volunteer team. We were commended this year on the warm welcome we offer to all our visitors and that really is down to them. Without their invaluable contribution the service wouldn’t be what it is and it’s so lovely to have recognition of that.’

The Information Service was up against Woolacombe & Mortehoe Tourism Information Centre, who picked up Silver and Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centres who bagged the Gold award. Carrie said: ‘It’s an honour to be able to compete against such strong, well-established services. We are always striving to improve and have big plans for next year, so watch this space!’


Museum converting from Charitable Trust to Charitable Incorporated Organisation

An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Trust will be held on Tuesday 20th November at Tiverton Museum at 5.30pm.

The meeting is being held for members to formally approve the conversion from the Museum Trust to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, including the approval of a new Constitution and to appoint Trustees to the new board.

To see a copy of the draft Constitution please click here. The Trustees have prepared a document to explain the decision process behind the new document, please click here. 


Preparing for winter at Tiverton Museum

Tiverton Museum is celebrating as the museum’s heating has been upgraded thanks to a grant from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through the Landfill Communities Fund.

The museum has been working closely with two local firms, NJT Plumbing and Heating Ltd who have replaced the museum’s obsolete boilers, and Colman Building Contractors who have installed insulation throughout the museum’s attics. This work will significantly reduce the museum’s carbon footprint by approximately 25%.

This project has been possible thanks to Viridor Credits, which contributed £17,795. Further donations from the Swire Charitable Trust, the Sir John and Lady Amory’s Charitable Trust and from a museum supporter meant that the full project costs were covered.

Pippa Griffith, Museum Director, says ‘This has been a vital project for the museum. We were very concerned that our obsolete boilers would fail and we would be forced to significantly reduce our winter opening hours. How, the museum will be a warmer, more pleasant environment benefitting our volunteers, visitors and the collections. Both Neil and his team and NJT Plumbing and Heating, and Ben and his team at Colman Building Contractors, have been incredibly helpful and efficient in delivering the work needed for this project. As a registered charity operating on very limited funds, we struggle to find the fund to maintain our Grade II listed building. Financial support such as this enables us to secure the future of the museum as a popular community resource and repository of local heritage.’


Tiverton Museum Earns 2018 TripAdviser Certificate of Excellence

Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. Now in its eighth year, the achievement celebrates businesses that have earned great traveller reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include attractions, restaurants and accomodations located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience. 

Pippa Griffith, Museum Director, said: ‘We’re very proud to have won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence once again. We’dlike to thank all of our visitors who take the time to review us on TripAdvisor. As the Certificate of Excellence is based on customer reviews, the accolade is a great vote of confidence to our volunteers and staff who work on the front desk.’

“TripAdvisor is excited to announce the recipients of the 2018 Certificate of Excellence, which celebrates experiences and other travel businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings on the world’s largest travel site,” said Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor. “This recognition allows us to publicly honour businesses that are actively engaging with customers and using feedback to help travellers identify and confidently book the perfect trip.”

The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

Museum Director Pippa Griffith and Carrie Thomas Visitor Information Officer with the recent award in the museum's transport gallery


Ship wrecked cloth seals on display at Tiverton Museum

Tiverton Museum has recently acquired 4 rare lead cloth seals which are now on display in the museum’s Wool Trade Gallery. They join the museum’s existing collection of 25 seals featuring a range of local merchants’ names and marks.From the late seventeenth century through most of the eighteenth century, there was a large export trade in serges from Tiverton through Topsham to Rotterdam or Amsterdam. The seals were attached to bolts of cloth and often discarded when all the lengths of cloth were sold. The seals are not often found in this country, but usually at market sites on the continent (especially in the Netherlands and in Germany) where Tiverton's cloth was sold.

Pippa Griffith, Director of Tiverton Museum says ‘These four seals are totally unique due to the conditions in which they were found. They were found by a metal detectorist on a beach amongst sand that was dredged from the sea bed in the Netherlands. It is quite possible that all four seals came from the ship wreck of the Anna Emerentia which sank in November 1775.The four seals represent merchants Benjamin Dickinson and Martin Dunsford. The port records show that Benjamin Dickinson loaded 185 bales of cloth on this ship, and Martin Dunsford loaded 11 bales. The fourth seal is difficult to read, but may contain a fictitious name (merchants sometimes put fictitious names on their seals, perhaps on cloth of lesser quality), and may have been dispatched by George Lewis who had 35 bales on the same ship. Benjamin Dickinson inherited Oliver Peard's business and was trading mainly between 1770 and 1790. He rebuilt his mansion was on Fore Street where Boots the Chemist is today. The Dunsford family had property on Bampton Street in the Eighteenth Century. Martin Dunsford Jnr (1744-1807) published a history of Tiverton in 1790.’

‘The fact that these seals may come from an identifiable shipwreck makes them extremely unusual as we can accurately date them. Cloth wasn’t transported over the winter and we don’t know of any other ship wreck that contained Tiverton cloth. The other seals that we have in the collection have also been found by metal detectorists in the Netherlands, but not in contexts which can be accurately dated. The museum is very grateful to Mr Reinders, the metal detectorist, who found the seals and who donated them to the museum.’

The seals about to be put on display by musuem Director, Pippa Griffith


Tiverton Museum unveils future plans

Tiverton Museum has been thinking about the future, as Trustees and staff agree that they want to provide an exciting, vibrant museum which inspires visitors as they explore the history and heritage of the Mid Devon area.

Proposed option for new museum entrance as seen from Beck’s Square

Pippa Griffith, Museum Director, says ‘there are a number of improvements we would like to make to the museum, including creating a more welcoming entrance that enables people to actually see into the museum; create a larger learning room which can be more easily used for school groups, family activities and events. We also want to maximise opportunities for income through letting and hire, and of course to provide even better care for the museum’s collections. All of this work will help the museum’s future financial sustainability. We are currently working on a project funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to investigate these ideas, and are delighted to reveal our first concept drawings by West Waddy architects. We are still in early stages of planning such a major project which will involve a lot of fundraising and take several years to achieve!’

‘The museum is very pleased to see that Mid Devon District Council is investigating options to regenerate the town centre. Some of these proposals tie in very well with our own plans. We are meeting with Councillors and Officers at MDDC to discuss this in more detail, but we are also asking for wider community support for the museum at the same time.’

‘We would like the new town centre plans to make more of the museum as a key cultural and tourism asset. The plans have missed the museum off the list of key cultural assets, but do state that the entrance and façade should be improved. We feel that we can offer a lot more than the current town plans suggest; it’s not just about what the building looks like, but what community events we offer inside as well. We are also concerned at the proposed change of use of Beck’s Square car park into residential use, as we feel that this will reduce the footfall at our end of the town, and know that many of our visitors use this popular, accessible, car park.’

The museum is asking its supporters to provide feedback to the town centre plans and ask that they make more of the museum as a cultural and tourism asset, and to emphasise the synchronicity between the museum’s ideas and the town centre plans. The consultation period on the Town Centre plans ends on 10th June.


View of proposed new museum entrance above, and existing building below.



Tiverton Museum acquires rare PoW newspaper

Staff at Tiverton Museum were intrigued to see a newspaper from Tiverton’s Prisoner of War camp come up for auction recently. The camp was located near to the site that Petroc and the High School occupy today. The weekly newspaper ‘Die Eule’ or ‘The Owl’ dates from September 1946 and features stories and articles, puzzles, jokes and reports of a football match between Tiverton and Silverton. Most of the paper is in German apart from a section about learning English. There was another camp near Cruwys Morchard which housed Italian prisoners of war. With a donation from a supporter, the museum was able to purchase the newspaper. 

Pippa Griffith, Director of Tiverton Museum says ‘We are absolutely delighted to have acquired this very rare item; we didn’t even know that the camp had produced a newspaper. We hold very little in the museum about the camp, just a couple of photographs so this is an important acquisition for this part of Tiverton’s history. We would love to hear from anyone who has photographs of the camp or of any people who stayed there, or even more copies of this newspaper!’

‘We know that prisoners of war were driven out to local farms to help out, especially at busy times such as potato harvesting. We would also love to hear from anyone who knows about prisoners of war who stayed on and made Mid Devon their home, perhaps marrying a local woman.’


Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon wins National Lottery support

The Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life has received (£58,700) from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project ‘Attracting Audiences, Securing our Future’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on essential work strengthening the museum to secure its future and achieve a balanced budget.The project will start in the New Year and run until March 2018.

The project will enable the museum to buy in support to review several areas of work ‘behind the scenes’. This includes reviewing the museum’s business model, strengthening the governance and staff structure, and creating a new raft of plans to support the musuem’s marketing to ensure that it attracts wide audiences from the local community. The project will develop volunteering opportunities at the museum, and trustees, staff and volunteers will all learn new skills as a result of this project.

Commenting on the award, (Pippa Griffith, Museum Director) said: “We are thrilled to have received support thanks to National Lottery players. This project will strengthen the museum behind the scenes and will help to ensure that we will continue to collect and display Mid Devon’s heritage, and provide all our services to the local community, for many years to come.”


Runner Up in Primary Times Awards

Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life is Runner Up in the Favourite Museum or Historical Attraction Category in the prestigious Primary Times Reader Star Awards 2017!

There were 8 different categories asking readers for their favourite: family attraction; family eating place; indoor play or activity centre; outdoor activity centre; museum or historical attraction; sports venue; party venue or entertainer; theatre or arts centre.

One tightly fought-after category was that of favourite Museum or Historical Attraction and it was certainly interesting to read the broad spectrum of answers. Yet, the interesting artefacts, exhibits, historical stories and various family events contributed to Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life securing the Runner Up place in the Museum and Historical Attraction group.

Pippa Griffith, Director of Tiverton Museum, says ‘Everyone at the museum is elated with this accolade. We are passionate about welcoming visitors of all ages to the museum, and are especially pleased that we have been nominated for this award by local families who enjoy visiting us.’

Linda Edwards, Publishing Editor at Primary Times said: “We are thrilled with the extraordinary response to this year’s Reader Star Award survey and we’d like to say a massive thank you to all the readers who took part. The results are sure to help other local families decide what to do and where to go. Each individual category winner and runner up deserves worthy recognition, as they are clearly offering something that our readers want.”


Toc H banner paraded on Remembrance Sunday

Tiverton Museum was delighted that the Toc H banner, which forms part of the museum’s collection, was paraded as part of the town’s Remembrance Sunday parade. The banner has been recently conserved as part of a regional project to conserve, interpret and display a range of banners from 10 museums across the South West.

Pippa Griffith, Director of Tiverton Museum says ‘We were pleased to take part in this community act of remembrance and have the banner seen by hundreds of local people. We would particularly like to thank the organisers of the parade at the British Legion for agreeing to let us join the parade, and to our volunteer and Trustee who did the parading.’

Toc His an international charity and membership movement that emerged from a soldiers' club in Poperinge, Belgium during World War I, with hundreds of branches opening across Britain in the 1920s. The Tiverton branch started in 1929 and continued until 1963 when it closed due to low membership. 


About the Raising the Standard banners project

The South West Museum Development Programme is working with 10 museums and heritage organisations across Devon and Cornwall has secured £67,500 from Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a £81,900 project to conserve, interpret and display 15 banners alongside a programme of community engagement and the development of an online schools resource.

The museums will work in partnership through the festivals, village fetes, special events and celebrations of local communities during summer/ autumn 2017 to engage local communities and schools in the vibrant social history and contemporary relevance of the banners of Devon and Cornwall. 


Tourist Information Service finalist in awards!

Tiverton’s Tourist Information Service, housed in Tiverton’s Museum of Mid Devon Life, is thrilled to have been chosen as a finalist in the Visitor Information Service of the Year category of the 2017 Devon Tourism Awards.

This year saw a record of 205 entries and an increase to 25 categories in the competition which is now in its 8th year following its launch in 2010.

Visitor Information Officers Carrie Thomas and Liz Brooks and the large team of front desk volunteers at the museum will be eagerly awaiting the prestigious Awards Ceremony on 23rd November to find out if they have won bronze, silver or gold. The event is taking place in Plymouth Guildhall and will be hosted by Britain's leading travel commentator, Simon Calder. 

Awards organizer Robin Barker of Services for Tourism commented: “This year’s Devon Tourism Awards have broken all records with 205 entries and our judges carrying out 120 business visits, most of them mystery visits. The competition has been tough and the standard outstanding. With tourism increasingly recognised as one of the UK’s and Devon’s most important industries, it is great to see so many exemplars of excellence across the county.”



Shining a light on Tiverton Museum

Tiverton Museum is celebrating as museum lighting has been upgraded thanks to a grant from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through the Landfill Communities Fund.

The museum has been working closely with a local firm, J.V.Lee Electrical to replace over 300 lights around the building – nearly all of which have now been upgraded to LEDs from halogen and fluorescent lamps. This will significantly reduce the museum’s carbon footprint by approximately 80%. The museum’s finances should see a positive impact as the project is anticipated to considerably reduce the museum’s energy bills. The LED lamps are also better for the objects on displayas they emit less ultra violet light and produce less heat.

This project has been possible thanks to Viridor Credits, which contributed over £15,400. A further £2000 was awarded from the South West Museum Development Programme, and £225 from Tiverton Lions Club.

Pippa Griffith, Museum Director, says ‘This has been a vital project for the museum. The funding from Viridor Credits has enabled us to transform the lighting throughout the museum reducing our carbon footprint and running costs. Julian and his team at J.V.Lee Electrical have been incredibly helpful. As a registered charity, we struggle to meet the ongoing maintenance for our listed building. Support such as this enables us to secure the future of the museum as a popular community resource and repository of local heritage.’

Gareth Williams, Operations Manager at Viridor Credits, said “small changes, funded by the Landfill Communities Fund, can make a big difference to organisations like Tiverton Museum. The new lighting will reduce overheads and allow them to channel funds to improving the visitor experience, as well as reducing the impact on the environment.”


More dementia friends at the museum

More of our staff and volunteers were delighted to become Dementia Friends today thanks to a session with Tiverton Dementia Action Alliance. 


Tiverton Museum all set for people with a visual impairment to visit

Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life has recently been working with Devon in Sight and Guide Dogs to ensure that visitors to the museum who have sight loss can enjoy the many and varied exhibits contained within the museum.

It all started last September when Devon in Sight organised a visit to the museum of local people who have a visual impairment accompanied by the volunteers who make up the Devon in Sight Volunteer Visiting Service.

Tiverton Museum’s Director, Pippa Griffith, said, “We were very pleased to welcome so many people with sight problems into the museum and it was the perfect opportunity to ask for feedback as to how we might make the museum experience more enjoyable and worthwhile for visually impaired people.” One of the most popular suggestions of the feedback and one that has been easy to remedy was that of training staff and volunteers to become Community Sighted Guides.

Sighted Guiding training taking place at Tiverton Museum

This is a nationally recognised half day course that raises awareness of visual impairment and also teaches the basic techniques of how best to guide someone safely who has significant sight loss. Devon in Sight is working in partnership with Rick Allbrook from Guide Dogs, who is able to offer this training locally. This partnership has worked well over the last couple of years and many people have benefitted from the training. Along with museum staff and volunteers, a staff member from the local Indoor Bowls Centre, staff and volunteers from Involve as well as Devon in Sight volunteer visitors have all been trained in the two recent sessions that have been hosted by the museum.

Sue Snell from Devon in Sight’s Volunteer Visiting Service commented that, “The museum has been incredibly positive and committed to improving their service to people with sight loss and has genuinely made the museum a much more accessible place for people with visual impairment to visit safely and to have an enjoyable and enriching experience.”

If you think your organisation or company would benefit from Community Sighted Guiding training for some staff members then get in touch with Sue (07580787308) to book places on the next course. 


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