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Experts urge end to Ludlow museum cuts

South Shropshire | News | Published:

Cuts to Ludlow's museum services would threaten the town's "world famous" reputation for geology, according to experts.

Making the three staff who look after artefacts at Ludlow Museum Resource Centre redundant would affect the town's ability to support international research, according to Ludlow-based geology professor Michael Rosenbaum.

His plea to spare the museum service from cuts was backed by Giles Miller, chairman of the national Geological Curators Group, who said: "It's like having a Ferrari in the garage, but saying the keys and the petrol are in Shrewsbury."

More than 150 people, including a host of eminent academics, packed into Ludlow Assembly Rooms yesterday to protest against Shropshire Council's plans.

Council bosses have said the artefacts, which include county-wide collections and items of national importance, will continue to be cared for and accessible despite "reduced curatorial provision" at the centre – but those at yesterday's meeting were not convinced.

So many turned out that it had to be moved from the Assembly Rooms' Oscars room, to the bigger Ballroom theatre.

No-one from Shropshire Council was at the meeting, which was hastily convened by Friends of Ludlow Museum to help protect staff who work at the resource centre and support the separate Ludlow Museum.

Professor Rosenbaum said the county would will lose far more than it saves if museum services were cut.

Collection

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He said the geology collection was world renowned and without the in-house expertise to back it up, it would affect researchers across the globe.

He said having full time experts in the town was also important for inspiring future generations, as it was a geology trip around Ludlow with former curator John Norton that set him on his career path.

He said: "The resource centre is the principal facility for the whole county museums service. The facilities support curation, education and research, not only for Shropshire but across the West Midlands."

He said the collections themselves were just "raw information" without staff to interpret them.

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Those assembled heard from an array of experts all opposing the cuts, including Sir Neil Cossons, former chairman of English Heritage, and Hugh Torrens, an emeritus professor of at Keele University who said Ludlow was "world famous to geologists".

Mr Miller, chair of the national Geological Curators Group, had travelled up from the Natural History Museum in London.

He said: "You have to make it clear to Shropshire Council that what you have here is a real gem. It's like having a Ferrari in the garage, but saying the keys and the petrol are in Shrewsbury."

A statement from MP Philip Dunne supporting the cause was also read out.

John Nash, chairman of Ludlow Civic Society, who was chairing the meeting, said it was expected a single part-time curator post, based in Shrewsbury, would replace the current three experts. He said that person could not possibly cover the range of activities.

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