Annual Report


The Trustees present their annual report of the Society for the year ended 31 December 2022.


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. A further change in April 2017 fixed the quorum at an AGM.

Principal activities

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 quarterly. All significant planning applications in the area are reviewed and comments referred to the Town or District Council where necessary.

The Society is responsible for the upkeep and operation of the Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum (home of the historic Henry Ramey Upcher Lifeboat) and the Peter Coke Shell Gallery. Both are opened for public viewing for as many hours as possible during the spring and summer months each year.

Monthly coffee mornings are held with speakers on topics of local and area interest. A newsletter is distributed to members several times a year, a website is maintained and social events are organised for volunteers.

The year saw a resumption of visitor activities at the venues though no Art Exhibition was held.

Executive Committee

Barry Blacklock joined the committee at the last AGM, elected to the position of Treasurer. With thanks to the outgoing Treasurer Barbara Emery, a successful handover has been achieved. The Society has been without a Chairman since the last AGM and, although the constitution provides for continuing operation in the event of such a loss, the work of the committee and the Society as a whole suffers.

Review of developments, activities and achievements during 2022


As reported by the Treasurer, the Society’s finances continue to be healthy and with the resumption of visitor activities, we have seen a resumption of sales and donations.

Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum and Peter Coke Shell Gallery

With the end of COVID-19 restrictions, the Society has put a large proportion of its energies into the operation of the Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum and the Peter Coke Shell Gallery.

The Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum saw a total of 7052 visitors in 2022. That is 8% down on pre-COVID numbers of 2019. The museum was open for a total of 184 sessions in 131 days (a session being a 2 hour volunteer shift). The 2022 season in the Peter Coke Shell Gallery saw a total of 10587 visitors which is a 10% reduction on pre-COVID 2019 numbers. The gallery was open for a total of 250 sessions in 138 days.

Thirteen new volunteers significantly strengthened the team organised by Sharon Hunt. Volunteers were primarily available during the main tourist season with few available for the October school’s half-term so we did not open then. Instead, private viewings for small groups were welcomed by prior arrangement outside the regular viewing times. There were two school parties that visited both the Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum and the Shell Gallery. An experiment in August adjusting the regular opening hours by bringing them earlier by an hour, seemed promising. Contactless payments are now accepted in both venues.

Many thanks go to all of the volunteers who make the venues a success: that over 17,000 visitors were welcomed during the year is a testament to their efforts.

The Buildings

The Society renewed the lease for the buildings with the Town Council, who own them.

The Society continues to maintain the fabric of the Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat shed and the former fishing sheds, together with the West Cliff garden at the entrance to the Shell Gallery. The garden has had new paving slabs installed to support one of the three benches there. No major structural repairs were carried out in the year. Continuous attention has been given during the year to the assets in the care of the Society: namely the Henry Ramey Upcher Lifeboat and the nearly 200 items of shell art given to the Society by Peter Coke.

The flow of visitors through the venues that was introduced during 2021 has been kept and the through passage between the Shell Gallery and the Lifeboat Museum has been very successful in encouraging visitors to both.

The small craft shop next to the gallery continued to be rented out for the sale of locally made craft goods.

Membership activities

Four issues of the newsletter were distributed to members during the year and the Society’s website continues to provide a useful source of information for members and non-members. An open event for members and the public was held in March and a “thank you” event was held in September for volunteers. The regular monthly coffee mornings were restarted and proved very popular with members and visitors attending, although attendance numbers did not reach pre-COVID levels. Many interesting speakers gave talks covering a wide range of topics of local interest.

Promotion and publicity

We continued to step up publicity: poster displays on Otterndorf Green were resumed and regular monthly press releases were placed in the local papers. As part of our publicity we commissioned videos of the Henry Ramey Upcher Lifeboat and the Lifeboat Museum, and a 360 degree virtual ‘walk round’ of the museum and gallery. The previously announced video about the Shell Gallery is still in production and was not available as hoped.

The Society can report on the success of the use of Instagram as a way of promoting awareness of the Shell Gallery. Alex Snell and Sharon Hunt have jointly maintained the photos on the @petercokeshellgallery account. New to Instagram is the Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat @hru_lifeboat_sheringham set up and maintained by Barry Blacklock.

Planning and Development

The Society continued to monitor planning applications and is usually represented at Town Council planning meetings. We do make comments at meetings when we think it is necessary and write to the Town Council if required on specific applications.

The Society was pleased to notice the completion of the Sheringham Playpark Revamp and the new equipment suitable for less able children that the Society had contributed to.


The Society is a member of Maritime Heritage East (MHE) which promotes visitor attractions along the East Anglian coast. The Society is also a member of Museums Norfolk, the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The Society continues to develop good relations with the Sheringham Museum at the Mo and had an exchange of ideas there that are expected to contribute to a new “Lifeboat Trail” in Sheringham.. The Society is a supporter of the relaunched Experience Sheringham.

Contact re-established with the Volunteer Hub in Cromer to list both the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre and the Shell Gallery.


At the end of 2022 there were 8 life members (90 years and over in age), 4 honorary members and 138 ordinary members. The Society continues to rely on subscriptions, on donations and, importantly, on the unpaid services of volunteers.

Looking Forward

The Trustees believe the Society has continued past a critical point in its history with activities being largely resumed after COVID-19 without the guidance of a Chairman, although our former Chairman has continued to serve for a limited period as Vice Chairman. The Trustees regard the affairs of the Society as satisfactory, but in order that the Society can continue its development into the future its Executive Committee needs more members and in particular the vacant Chair post must be filled.

On behalf of the Trustees

Peter Strudwick
Vice Chairman,
April 2023

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