SHERINGHAM AND DISTRICT SOCIETY
REPORT OF THE TRUSTEES
The Trustees present their annual report of the Society for the year ended 31 December 2015.
The Sheringham and District Society is a registered charity (No. 280951) formed in August 1979. It is governed by a constitution revised in May 2011 to reflect the Society’s name change from the previous Sheringham and District Preservation Society.
The main objectives of the Society, as defined by the constitution, are to preserve and improve features of historic interest, to promote high standards of planning and architecture and to stimulate interest in the area of benefit, which is the town of Sheringham and the parishes of Upper Sheringham and Beeston Regis. These aims are promoted by the Executive Committee, which normally meets monthly. All planning applications in the area are reviewed and comments referred to the Town / District Council where necessary. A newsletter is distributed to members three times a year, a website is maintained and social events are organised.
The Society is responsible for the upkeep and operation of the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre (incorporating the historic Henry Ramey Upcher Lifeboat) and the Peter Coke Shell Gallery. Both were opened for public viewing at Easter 2006 and remain open for as many hours as possible during the summer months each year, and during the Easter and Autumn school holidays.
An art exhibition has been organised annually from the earliest years of the Society’s existence. As well as providing an opportunity for local artists to show and sell their work, the exhibition is now a well-anticipated annual fixture for residents and visitors, as are the monthly coffee mornings.
Review of developments, activities and achievements during the year
The Society continues to put a large proportion of its energies into the operation of the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre and the Peter Coke Shell Gallery.
Visitor numbers to the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre in 2015 were 12,129 which is slightly down on the 12,323 we got last year – a wet August Bank Holiday when we couldn’t open probably contributed to the lower figure. We continue to remain open on most days because some volunteers very kindly continue to fill the gaps due to volunteer shortage. We had less visits from organised groups such as the brownies and schools – this year we had around 100 compared to 220 last year, although in 2014 the 220 figure did include one particularly large group visit of 125 from Holt Primary School. Comments in our Visitors Book remain positive, as well as on TripAdvisor: “We love you – Thank you” from Outwoods Edge Primary School in Loughborough.
We had around 112 overseas visitors sign the visitor’s book this year (103 last year) from 23 countries. We had most visitors from the USA and Germany.
A significant contribution to sales continues to come from gansey patterns. However, the Fridge Magnets showing a view of the Fishermen’s Slope and the new postcards we ordered last year are also selling well. We continue to have good links with Gresham’s Senior School CCF Naval Youth Cadets who helped to prepare the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre again for the winter.
2015 was another bumper year for the number of visitors to the Peter Coke Shell Gallery. Over 13,000 people visited the Gallery, a similar number to 2014, compared to 12,151 in 2013 and 8,250 in the year before. We continue to attract people of all ages to the Gallery and from many countries; also local people and holiday makers. ‘Oh, Wow’ – that’s the most common remark made by people as they enter the Gallery – followed by ‘not what we expected’.
The sale of shells continues to show a healthy position with sales of around £5,000 which is comparable to last year. Several new lines were introduced this year in the lower price range and these have sold well -also some of the larger more expensive items to shell collectors.
It is encouraging for our volunteers to read on TripAdvisor that they, as well as the exhibits, are appreciated. Once again thanks to all our volunteers- without them we could not function.
The small craft shop continues to be rented out for the sale of locally made craft goods and other items of interest.
Over seventy pictures were sold at the annual art exhibition and we had made a profit of £556 compared to £491 the previous year. The Society rounded up the profit made to £600 which was given to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, Quidenham.
The Society continues to monitor all planning applications and is represented at Town Council planning meetings. It has generally been a quiet year again as last year, although there continues to be plans afoot for more and more housing development in Sheringham and our concern remains over the ability of the existing infrastructure – transport, medics, police, schools etc. to cope with it all. The Society strongly supported the residents of Snaefell Park who objected to the fact that the major access to the new homes on the Hilbre site was through Snaefell Park and not from the Holway road which would have been far less disruptive. We also raised concerns over the proposed holiday chalet development in Beeston Regis next to the Grade 1 Listed Ancient Monument Priory .We felt it would mean the loss of another piece of green space in a sensitive area.
Three issues of the newsletter were issued during the year and the Society’s website continues to provide a useful source of information for members and non-members. The regular monthly coffee mornings remain very popular with ever increasing numbers attending. Many interesting speakers gave talks covering a wide range of topics.
Partnerships – The Society is represented when it can be at meetings of Maritime Heritage East (MHE). It supplies material for the MHE website which provides an information resource and promotes visitor attractions along the East Anglian coast. The Society is also a member of Museums Norfolk, the Association of Independent Museums (AIM), the Association of Historic Towns and Villages (ASHTAV) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The Society continues to develop relationships with the Mo Museum and participated again in the Crab and Lobster Festival.
Over the years the Society has contributed to a number of local projects which have improved and conserved the local environment. Towards the end of 2014 we felt that some of the lovely sea wall murals, which are popular with residents and visitors, had deteriorated with the blast of the North Sea. We therefore, in liaison with the Town Council and Colin Seal, decided to fund a re-fresh of the sea front mural underneath the Two Lifeboats Public House. This year the Society decided to fund a re-fresh of the sea wall mural on the East Promenade sea wall.
Membership at the end of 2015 was 195 compared to 203 in 2014. Of the 195 members 8 members were life members ie 90 years and over in age. The Society continues to rely on subscriptions, on donations and, importantly, the unpaid services of volunteers.
The Committee of Trustees believe the Society continues to make good progress and its affairs to be satisfactory. It would continue to benefit from having more members actively engaged in the running of the Society’s activities, although last year we did secure some more volunteer stewards to whom we are very grateful.
Chairman, on behalf of the Trustees