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Spalding museums benefit new funding




A new grant will help a museum which is ‘Spalding’s best kept secret’ to share its treasures with a wider audience.

Spalding Gentlemen’s Society is hoping that its plans to create a virtual reading room will allow more people to enjoy its amazing collection of manuscripts and books.

Both the society and The Chain Bridge Forge have each received grants from the Arts Council’s £64m Emergency Relief Fund, which was announced in March.

Spalding Gentleman's Society (1980920)
Spalding Gentleman's Society (1980920)

The society, which is based in Broad Street, has received a grant of £17,994 to help digitise its collection of manuscripts and books along with providing help during the COVID crisis.

Librarian Dr Dustin Frazier Wood says work has already got underway to digitise books on the local area.

He said: “We sometimes joke that the society is Spalding’s best kept secret and we would dearly like to change that.

One of the manuscripts in Spalding Gentleman's Society. This is an a watercolour of the Orange Argus, a butterfly only found in the region around Spalding and discovered by the SGS's founder, Maurice Johnson, at Dozens Bank in 1749.(38081359)
One of the manuscripts in Spalding Gentleman's Society. This is an a watercolour of the Orange Argus, a butterfly only found in the region around Spalding and discovered by the SGS's founder, Maurice Johnson, at Dozens Bank in 1749.(38081359)

“We have an amazing collection in our library and archive that goes back to the 13th century. We have the life story of Spalding in our building and we want to make that story accessible.

“We are going to start with our historical printed books relating to Spalding and the surrounding area to make these things more accessible to people.”

The society has been able to purchase a camera and a professional digital system that is specificallydesigned for manuscripts and books.

Chain Bridge Forge Official Opening of ArtworkJudith Dodd, wife of blacksmith Geof Dodd by picture depicting him (11969993)
Chain Bridge Forge Official Opening of ArtworkJudith Dodd, wife of blacksmith Geof Dodd by picture depicting him (11969993)

It is hoped that some of the books will be available in the virtual reading room, which is hoped to attract interest from across the country and globe.

Dr Frazier Wood said: “We are really thrilled to have it. We can use it really to benefit the public rather than to benefit the people that come and use it already.”

President Tom Grimes said: “It is very exciting for us to be able to do this. It is bringing us up-to-date.

“As an education charity, our purpose in life is to make things available to the public.”

The society is also planning an exhibition of photographs from thelate 19th century and early 20th century.

The Chain Bridge Forge, in High Street, Spalding, has received £9,350 which will help the museum’s running costs during the coronavirus crisis.

Director of the Friends of Chain Bridge Forge Geoff Taylor is delighted to have received the grant.

He said: “This is a tremendous as it helps us keep the forge going. We had to lockdown the forge when coronavirus first came out and we had all the costs with no income coming in so that was quite worrying for us.”

The museum will also be using some of the money to work with Lee Mason on an augmented reality digital art project.

This project will allow people to see a work of art via their smartphones.

Mr Taylor said: “The Arts Council has given us a bit of money to demonstrate the concept.”

The museum is now running some of its blacksmith taster sessions which are socially distanced.

Three individuals from South Holland received a total £7,500 of in funding from the Arts Council. One person fromthecombined arts genre has received £2,500. While a further two visual artists were each awarded £2,500 .


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