Bexhill Museum was officially opened by our patron, Eddie Izzard on Thursday 26 November
Eddie Izzard returned to the town of his childhood to render yet another service to a cause he holds dear.
Despite of the rain Eddie completed a half marathon from Eastbourne to cut the ribbon marking the formal re-opening of Bexhill Museum. He didn't pause for breath before launching into an inspirational speech, after which he entered the building to meet invited guests who included representatives of the funding organisations, designers and contractors who had been given a guided tour of the new-look museum by curator, Julian Porter.
The £2m-plus project has been made possible by a £900,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £700,000 from Rother District Council and £250,000 from the Society of Bexhill Museums plus other donations.
Since its “soft” opening in July the museum has been attracting record attendances.
The original display area has been refurbished as the Sargent Gallery - named in honour of veteran former curator Henry Sargent, who served the museum for more than 60 years.
The newly-built Costume Gallery houses the collection from the former Bexhill Museum of Costume and Social History and illustrates fashion through the ages.
The new Technology Collection is a gallery devoted to Bexhill’s motor heritage. It features three cars with three different forms of motive power but sharing a key place in the town’s history: a replica of the steam car with which M. Leon Serpollet won the 1902 Bexhill Motor Trials marks the first international motorsport event held in the UK; a locally-built 1958 Elva Mark III sports-racing car faithfully restored by veterans celebrates the former Bexhill company founded by local man Frank Nichols; the Volta electric car built by students of the town’s St Richard’s Catholic College under the leadership of craft design technology teacher Peter Fairhurst shows how in 1993 they gained a class world land speed record which still stands.
© Image copyright of Robin Thatcher photography
Eddie Izzard’s visit follows the comedian’s remarkable achievement in running 43 marathons in seven weeks on behalf of Sport Relief this summer..As Patron of the museum, he is generously giving up his time during a record-breaking sell-out UK tour.
Peter Fairhurst said: “For many years, Bexhill had a very good local museum in Egerton Road, a particularly fine Costume Museum in Old Town and an enviable motoring heritage as 'The birthplace of British Motor Racing. '“More than ten years ago a movement was started to get these three elements under one roof and, in the Summer of this year, 2009, and having spent over two million pounds, the results are there for all to see.
“With thanks to a dedicated team of hard working people, Bexhill now has one of the finest museums in the south of England. The refurbished Sargent Gallery is superb, the relocated Costume Gallery is stunning and the Motoring Gallery presents a unique collection of vehicles that are particularly significant to Bexhill.“
Bexhill’s museum is almost one hundred years old and will move into its second century confident that it offers, and will continue to offer an excellent facility to local residents and visitors alike.”