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A drawing of a white man in eighteenth-century clothes and a grey wig, using a sextantThe Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum

High Street, Great Ayton

Towards a community museum

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given us £200,000 to enlarge and revitalize the museum. In the next few months we aim to incorporate the old antique shop on the ground floor (which the museum Trust already owns) with the existing museum upstairs, and there will be an internal stairway connecting the two. The room downstairs will become a reception area for visitors and school parties as well as an enlarged museum shop. The present exhibits upstairs are to be entirely redesigned, while retaining most of the material relating to Cook. There will be a new emphasis on the history of the village, using some of the research which the History society has built up during the last ten years. Visitors will also be able to borrow hand-held devices which will take them on a tour of the village, explaining about particular places when they get there.

As at present, the museum will be serviced by volunteers, probably working in pairs. We think the role of the new volunteers should be really varied and interesting. They will not only look after the shop and welcome visitors but also field enquiries about the village and its history. To take a made-up example, someone might say, “I am researching my family history and I was told by my mother that my great-grandfather, John Wilson, was a joiner who lived in Ayton. Can you help at all?” Needless to say, all volunteers will receive proper training. They will become experts in such topics as the early life of James Cook, how to use the History society's new website, and how to operate the till!

It is expected that the re-vamped museum might be ready to open next June, but we hope that volunteer training would start well before that. Initial enquiries at this stage would be welcome. If you would like to be included, please contact either me (723358), John Taylor (724842), Gary Readman (723605) or Christine Bianco (722170).

Dan O'Sullivan

November 2012

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