Annual Report


The Trustees present their annual report of the Society for the year ended 31 December 2018.


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.

 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 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 who own the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre and the Shell Gallery buildings. This will be renewed again later this 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.

Total number of visitors was 9196 = 13% down on last year. This is the lowest figure since 2012.  This could have been due to the cold wet weather we had that year. However this did not put our valiant volunteers off as records show that on only 3 occasions the weather caused us to close early.

What has also been noticeable is the number of occasions when we have had to close due to lack of volunteers – it was 7 days this year against 2 days last year.  And on 38 occasions we have opened late or closed early because of a lack of volunteers. We could do with a couple of new volunteers. If interested contact Malcolm Peddar at peddar@clara.netor telephone 01263 824187.  We will open for Easter from 13thApril to 22ndApril and for the main season from 1stMay until 29thSeptember.

At £3054.34 donations were less this year but we still averaged 33p per visitor – our best day was Monday 4thJune when we took £46.69 which averaged out at 90p per visitor.  Our worst (excluding days with no donations) was Wednesday 2ndMay when we got 60p from 5 visitors which was 12p per visitor.

18% of visitors came on Sunday, 16% on Thursday, but only 9% on Friday.  However we often had only 1 volunteer session instead of two on Fridays. Busiest Day was Sunday 19thAugust  when we had 201 visitors.  Least busy was Friday 7thSeptember when no one turned up within 1 hour of opening

No school or organisation arranged visits this year but we did get unplanned visits from a party of 46 from 19thKings Lynn Brownies and 12 pupils from Broomgrove Junior School, Wivenhoe, Essex.

46 overseas visitors from 19 countries including Bermuda, Cambodia, El Salvador and Russia for first time.  We had 2 visitors from a sea-going yacht visiting Wells, 2 Ex-Fishermen, 4 from Lifeboat Families including a man active still on a Swedish Lifeboat, and 2 ex Navy personnel. 10 Family Connections to the Augusta and Henry Ramey Lifeboats as builders of the boats or crew of the boats were recorded this year.

We sold 348 postcards, 68 Fridge Magnets, and 82 Adult Gansey Patterns.   We sold 17 Town Maps. We sold a total of 90 sets or individual leaflets/magazines/booklets. 27 colouring books were sold. Thanks to Maureen Cooper for giving us prints of her picture – we sold 4 of these.

The 2018 season in the Peter Coke Shell Galleryhas seen a slight reduction in visitor numbers – but, despite the continuing 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..  Visitors totalled around 14,000 We continue to show a healthy position in regard to visitors and sales on all fronts.

Improvements to the layout of the gallery were made in the closed season.

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.

The dust has now settled after the Art Exhibitionand there has been time to assess it, and say that it has once more been a success with 55 paintings sold and by the time expenses were paid there was a profit of over £800  which was  divided between the Macmillan Nurses and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

This year we had 40 fewer paintings but there were more artists. Several came from much further afield than used to be the case which speaks well for the popularity of the exhibition.  It was a pleasure to sell some paintings by artists who have supported us over the years but sold nothing till this year.

The Society continued to monitor all planning applicationsand is usually represented at Town Council planning meetings.If you pass that way you will no doubt have seen that work is very much under way on the Splash site. Some demolition work has also taken place at the Burlington Hotel, but nothing has been done yet on the Shannocks hotel which was scheduled for demolition by this time.  Although not a planning matter as such, there is a proposal to demolish the brick bus shelter by the old Sheringham station and replace it with a plastic see-through structure. Some of our members have expressed disappointment about this and we have written to the town council asking them to reconsider this as the shelter, complete with its artwork, is very much a part of the town.

Three issues of the newsletterwere distributed to members 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. No trips were organised this year but it is hoped to organise something for 2019 the 40th anniversary of the Society.

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) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). It was decided we would have no further communication with the Historic Town Forum (ASHTAV) as we have not had any contact with them for some time.

The Society continues to develop a good relationship with the Sheringham Museum and participated again in the Crab and Lobster Festival, creating a lighthouse artwork for the Art Trail. The Society also actively supports the Sheringham Carnival.

Membership:at the end of 2018 there were 116 paid-up members comprising 26 paying by standing order 79 by cheque or cash and 11 life members.i.e. 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.

Peter Strudwick

Chairman, on behalf of the Trustees  

April 2019

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