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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Leaking roof crisis at museum leads to salvage operation

* Tidy Town Team volunteers move boxes of exhibits from the museum to the old courthouse across Parade Street.

Volunteers from Llangollen Tidy Town team moved into to prevent priceless artefacts at the town’s museum being damaged by rainwater pouring in from a defective roof.  

The dozen-strong group carefully moved dozens of items, including some 4,000-year-old Bronze Age bones and a Bible dating back two centuries, to a safe temporary home in a storage area at the old courthouse just across Parade Street on Monday morning.

The salvage operation was necessary because the vaulted roof in the 50-year-old circular museum building is now in such a dire state of repair that worried trustees say completely replacing it has become the only option.

But to secure grant aid for the work they are first aiming to acquire the building from its present owners, Denbighshire County Council, from whom they have been renting the former Llangollen Library for the past 20 or so years   

Museum trustee David Crane said: “We’ve been having major problems with the roof for some time but things have recently become much worse due to all the heavy rain.

“Water has been building up on the roof and then pouring in through one of the skylights which surround the roof.

“A roofing expert who looked at it for us said the roof was like a swimming pool and would cost more to keep on repairing than having the whole thing replaced.

“Another problem with the way the place is designed is that the drains from the roof run inside the building rather than on the outside.”

He added: “We have had to look at a number of options, including moving out of this building. But finding somewhere else to go and then moving our entire collection would not be easy.

“We have therefore come up with a plan to buy the building from the county council and at the same time apply for grant aid to cover the cost of renewing the roof.

“We estimate that the purchase and roof renewal would cost in the region of £130,000-£150,000 in total.

“We are hopeful of being able to get external funding but if we aren’t successful the only thing left would be to close the museum, which means the town would lose a very valuable asset.”

The Tidy Town Team, led by David Davies, formed a human chain to move a large number of boxes containing valuable exhibits from two storerooms on the museum’s upper floor,  which are most at risk of water damage, just across the road to the old courthouse.     

Another museum trustee Suzanne Evans said, so far, none of these artefacts, including Bronze Age bones found in the hills near Llangollen, a 200-year-old family Bible and a rare map of properties on the Chirk Castle estate, had been damaged in any way but were being moved before the rainwater reached them.

Trustees say that, despite their ongoing battle with the roof, the museum, which is one of the largest independent and accredited ones of its type in the county, would hopefully be opening again to the public following its Christmas break early in February.       

Llangollen county councillor Karen Edwards, who helped the Tidy Town Team with the salvage operation, said: "Llangollen Museum is a major asset to the town of Llangollen, providing an invaluable service to our community. 

"It was heartening yesterday to see the community come together to help the museum temporarily relocate their collections in order to safeguard them for the future. 

"I wholeheartedly support their efforts to establish a safe space for the future of our town museum." 

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