InsideOUT, a sound and light project on the site of a former colliery at Snibston, Leicestershire, funded by Arts Council England in 2012

Concerns over the future of Snibston collections

Rebecca Atkinson, 25.08.2015
Friends group continues to challenge the council's decision to close the museum
Campaigners have urged Leicestershire County Council not to break up Snibston Discovery Museum's collections until after their application to appeal the decision to close the attraction has been considered by the high court.

The museum in Coalville, Leicestershire, closed to the public on 31 July after the Royal Courts of Justice in London dismissed a judicial review of plans to redevelop the site.

The Friends of Snibston group, which supported the judicial review, has applied to appeal the decision but will not hear whether this has been successful until next month. If it is, then a Court of Appeal hearing will take place at a later date. 

Leicestershire County Council is undertaking an audit of the collection but there are concerns that the collection will be broken up, with items on loan from organisations and individuals returned to their owners.

Brian Vollar, the chairman of the Friends of Snibston, said: “Our greatest concern is that what amounts to 80% of Leicestershire's museum items are no longer publicly accessible and there is no clear plan from the council as to what to do with them. Our fear is that many items may not find an alternative home for public display and will be disposed of.”

He added that the collection should be kept at Snibston while the legal challenge against the closure continues.

Christine Radford, a Conservative councillor for Shepshed West, told BBC Radio Leicester on Friday that a 19th-century horse-drawn fire pump should be returned to Shepshed West.

“I don’t think anyone objected to it being in Coalville because it was only a few miles away and with similar vehicles,” she said. “But now we can’t find out what [the council] is going to do with all these vehicles and we would like to have the vehicle that belongs to Shepshed back in Shepshed.”

A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council said that the accessioned collections at Snibston would be cared for by museum staff until it completes the audit review, which is likely to be at the end of the year or in early 2016.

“A number of items are on loan to the service from other organisations and individuals, and these items will be returned to their owners, in accordance with existing agreements,” he added. “[The audit] will establish how many items are at the site and the opportunities for relocation. We cannot provide detailed information until the audit is complete and decisions are made about future use.”

The council plans to sell the existing Snibston building to developers and create a smaller mining museum in the site’s adjoining colliery – a move that it says will save £580,000 annually. But this is subject to the outcome of the local government finance settlement later this year.


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21.10.2015, 12:50
I often wondered whether the County ever really understood. Anyway, more important is the collection at Snibston. By no means all of it was collected by Snibston but well predates Snibston Discovery Park. Some is indeed formerly part of the City Museum pre-1974. This needs to be discovered long before calls are made to return individual items to their villages or towns.
MA Member
26.08.2015, 15:44
Clearly county councillor Radford doesn't understand museums; but then neither sadly does the leading Tory group at Leicestershire County Council.