Campaign to save the Lighthouse Centre in Penzance scuppered

Sharon Heal, Issue 105/3, p6, March 2005
Campaigners have lost their battle to keep the Lighthouse Centre in Penzance open.

Trinity House, the lighthouse service for England and Wales, announced the closure last month. A statement from Trinity House said that the move came after three years of consultation and that the collection needed to be displayed at a large centre with greater public
access.

The museum, which gained Registration just last year, had loaned most of its collection from Trinity House, as well as leasing the Buoy House, where it is based, from the organisation. The loan agreement has now been terminated.

David Hooper, the company secretary of the Lighthouse Centre, said he was 'extremely disappointed' by the news. He told Museums Journal that the board had come up with a business plan to improve access to the collection and had made an initial submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the bid to keep the museum open.

He said that it had been hoped that the redevelopment of the museum would tie-in with the regeneration of the harbour area where the museum is located. The museum manager and the part-time assistant will be made redundant and are not being offered redeployment.

Hudson Smith, the chairman of the social, economic and environment committee at Penwith District Council, said he was saddened by the news. 'This is particularly difficult for the staff and volunteers of the museum who have looked after the collection for so many years.'

The museum was established in 1989 and has approximately 7,000 visitors a year. Smith said that he understood that Trinity House were looking for a bigger display centre with more passing trade but added that the loss was regrettable for the Penzance area.

It is understood that the collection will move to the Dome in Plymouth. A spokesman for Trinity House said they were 'appraising options' for a new venue for the collection but couldn't confirm when a decision would be made.

Sam Hunt, the chief executive of the South West Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, said that it was a sad decision but the collection would be going to a good site. 'It's not closing but relocating. Trinty House have made a business decision to relocate and invest in the collection, which is a good thing.'

The collection includes optics, keepers' uniforms and photographs.