Campaign keeps hands off history musum

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A MUSEUM in the City of Culture 2017 which campaigners have been trying to save will stay open on alternate Saturdays after thousands backed an online petition.

Hull Council - which has to make £48m savings in two years - was heavily criticised for restricting access to the Hands on History museum in the run up to City of Culture.

However the 11-th hour decision by the councillor in charge of culture and leisure, won’t be pain-free, with opening times at the city’s floating attraction, Spurn Lightship, slashed instead.

The decision to close the museum in Hull’s Old Town to passing visitors and keep it open only for pre-booked groups sparked a petition by Hull historian Mike Covell, which gained over 2,000 signatures in less than a month.

But now just days before it was to take effect, it has emerged that money from funds used to open the Spurn Lightship in the summer, will now be used to open the museum on 26 alternate Saturdays, from 12 noon to 4pm.

The lightship, which served for 48 years as a beacon for mariners off Spurn Point, and normally opens seven days a week through the summer, will only open on 13 Sunday afternoons. It is said to be the least visited attraction in the museums service.

Coun Terry Geraghty who made the decision, said they were “juggling” with the money they had, and were still able to save £150,000.

He said: “I don’t like cuts of any shape or form; if I can minimise them I will do anything I can.”

The attraction, which is housed in the former grammar school of William Wilberforce, the 18th-century anti-slavery campaigner, offers an interactive exploration of the city’s history and attracts around 30,000 visitors a year.

One of its draws is that it lives up to its name, refusing to put glass cases between its youngest visitors and the exhibits.

Regulars like the fact children can dress up and play with toys from the past, learning about history in a very immediate way.

Coun Geraghty said he’s also found money to open eight or nine small venues to replace the mobile library service which was also axed as part of cuts.

He said: “I’ve managed to squeeze another £40,000 out of the central pot to open sight satellite libraries, places like Victoria Dock school and the resource centre on Orchard Park.

“We will be employing a librarian which will be more efficient.”

Since beating Dundee, Swansea Bay and Leicester to the title, it’s reckoned Hull has benefitted from £7m of positive press coverage and according to council leaders, visitor numbers at many of museums and galleries are on the up.