Lift threat to museums, urge campaigners

A rally in support of the National Railway Museum, York. Picture by Gerard Binks
A rally in support of the National Railway Museum, York. Picture by Gerard Binks
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Campaigners gathered in York at the weekend to urge the Government not to go ahead with expected cuts to funding for national museums in the North.

One of those facing possible closure is York’s National Railway Museum and on Saturday protesters held aloft placards declaring: “The North Needs Museums Too” at a rally calling for a rethink of the proposals which they say will have a major impact on York.

The leaders of 11 local authorities across in the region have written a joint letter to Chancellor George Osborne expressing grave concern that cuts he is expected to announce in his spending review on June 26 could lead to the closure of one of the North’s most prestigious museums.

Bosses at the Science Museum Group have warned that either the National Media Museum in Bradford, the National Railway Museum in York or the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester “will shut” if it receives an expected 10 per cent funding cut in the spending review.

Yorkshire council leaders revealed last week they are “equally concerned” about the future of the National Coal Mining Museum near Wakefield, which receives funding through the same body.

On Saturday, residents and visitors were invited to join Coun James Alexander, the Labour leader of York Council, for a rally near the museum, to make clear their opposition to funding cuts for national museums in the north.

Coun Alexander, said: “The National Railway Museum has widespread support locally, nationally and internationally.

“The educational benefits and the role the museum plays within the wider York economy cannot be underestimated.

“Nor can its role in the advancement of science and technology both within the city and within a national economic context.

“Such is the mass appeal and varied benefits of this nationally important museum, any decision which resulted in its closure would haunt the Government for years to come.

“I hope it sees sense before it is too late and gets around a table with the Science Museum 
Group. A solution has to be found.”

Speakers at the weekend rally also included the York Central MP, Hugh Bayley.