SHERINGHAM AND DISTRICT SOCIETY: REPORT OF THE TRUSTEES
The Trustees present their annual report of the Society for the year ended 31 December 2017.
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 has renewed the lease with the Town Council and also had a Health and Safety inspection carried out which did not throw up any major issues.
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 (10,169) to the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre saw a 23% decrease compared to the previous year (13,260). This included visitors from around 19 countries outside the UK, a few less than last year.
The weather wasn’t wonderful so we had 3 days when we were not open at all and delayed opening or closed early on 9 days. Although some volunteers put in 12 hours a week on occasion we still had 18 days when we could only open for one of the two sessions because we did not have a volunteer to cover. The lack of volunteers to open the FHC was the main reason we saw a drop in visitors.
No organised parties from schools or youth organisations visited us this year.
Many of the comments this year in the visitor’s book were on the heroism, commitment and strength of the Fisherman’s Lifeboat Crew.
Most popular items being sold continue to be postcards, fridge magnets and gansey patterns.
No work was undertaken on the lifeboat this year but new doors were fitted on the front of the lifeboat shed as the old doors were full of gaps letting in water and the hinges holding the doors in place had corroded badly, An internal PVC curtain was also installed that could be pulled over the doors to provide additional protection for the lifeboat from the winter weather. Sheringham Town Council kindly agreed to provide £5130 towards these repairs.
We also are grateful to Colin Seal for repainting the signage on the outside of the shed which had become very faded and adding one or two internal portraits of the old coxswains and crew inside the shed.
We continue to have good support from Gareth Burnell who has maintained his links with Gresham’s Senior School CCF Naval Youth Cadets but now has also established links with West Runton Scout Troop through his new teaching role at Beeston Hall School. He has provided teams from both groups to assist in covering the boat over winter and also provided the canvas tents from the scout group which have protected the lifeboat boat when we are closed over the winter.
The 2017 season in the Peter Coke Shell Galleryhas seen a slight reduction in visitor numbers – but, despite the period of austerity, sales increased. Once again the Gallery has had visitors from many different countries throughout the world.
The Gallery has become better known for a variety of reasons – more signs; leaflets in holiday venues; word of mouth and favourable comments on Trip Advisor. It is also encouraging for our volunteers to read on Trip Advisor that they, as well as the exhibits, are appreciated. Once again thanks to all our volunteers- without them we could not function. A thank you to all our volunteers who engaged with the visitors in 2017. Visitors totalled 14,243.
We continue to show a healthy position in regard to visitors and sales on all fronts.
The small craft shop next to thegallery continued to be rented out for the sale of locally made craft goods and other items of interest.
51 pictures were sold at the annual art exhibition, and we made a profit of £867 compared to £625 the previous year. The profit was shared equally between EACH and East Anglian Air Ambulances.
The Society continued to monitor all planning applicationsand is usually represented at Town Council planning meetings.The Burlington Hotel is still closed. A proposal has been put forward for a reuse and refurbishment and a planning application has been made. The Shannocks building opposite the Two Lifeboats pub has been derelict for quite a while. Two planning applications for a mixed development are currently active but nothing further appears to be happening but work on the Beaumaris Hotel site for housing (McCarthy and Stone) was started and is now proceeding apace. There is a proposal to redevelop the Splash complex with a grant from Sport Britain and it is hoped that a hotel chain night come forward to develop part of the site. The skate park would need to be resited.
Three issues of the newsletterwere 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 morningsremain very popular with ever increasing numbers attending. Many interesting speakers gave talks covering a wide range of topics. Two trips were organised. There was another outing on the Lucy Lavers lifeboat at Wells and a guided tour of Gresham School led by Simon Kinder.
Partnerships– The Society is a member of Maritime Heritage East (MHE) and supplies material for the MHE website which promotes visitor attractions along the East Anglian coast. The Society is also a member of Museums Norfolk, the Association of Independent Museums (AIM), the Historic Towns Forum (previously ASHTAV) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The Society continues to develop a good relationship with the Sheringham Museum and participated again in the Crab and Lobster Festival, creating a porthole artwork for the Art Trail.
Membershipat the end of 2017 was 182 compared to 196 in 2016. Of the 182 members 11 members were life members ie 90 years and over in age. TheSociety continues to rely on subscriptions, on donations and, importantly, the unpaid services of volunteers.
The Committee of Trustees believes the Society continues to make good progress and its affairs to be satisfactory. Like many other organisations though the Society does need more volunteers both for the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre and Shell Gallery, as well as on the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee consists of a number of members who have been in post for many years and an influx of younger members is urgently required.
Chairman, on behalf of the Trustees