By Liz Coates
Saturday, July 12, 2014
In the ten years since opening, at least a third of a million visitors have enjoyed Great Yarmouth’s Time and Tide Museum.
A decade ago the £4.8m attraction was tipped as the best way to promote the town’s heritage and reinvent its reputation. And after the initial gamble of buying the fire-damaged herring curing works for £54,000 the museum has more than delivered on its promise, gaining a national reputation and a host of accolades.
On Monday, dozens of dignitaries and people involved in the project from the beginning, will gather to mark the milestone and reflect on its success in a building that still smells of smoke from its herring curing days.
The museum tracing the history of Great Yarmouth since its origins occupies a converted and refurbished former fish factory which closed in 1989. It features among its main attractions a recreated Row and bustling fish wharf.
James Steward, eastern area manager for Norfolk Museums Service, said the museum had transformed the perception of Great Yarmouth as just a bucket and spade holiday destination.
He said: “It was something that was born out of a public desire to see the town’s heritage celebrated and its popularity has been sustained by the community’s pride.
“We have put on over 25 temporary exhibitions but the biggest achievement for the Time and Tide is that it has cemented a place in the hearts of the community and in the cultural landscape of the town.
“During that time we have seen a third of a million visitors. It is a key part of the school curriculum support and the pride of the borough.
“It has been a great success and is continually improving.”
The celebration on Monday coincides with the opening of a new reminiscence gallery.
The unique selling point of the museum is the building itself - the only large scale curing works to survive from the late Victorian heyday of herring curing. As such it is a building of regional significance and is Grade II listed.
The Time and Tide site is approximately 2,500 square metres, of which around half is for display.
The display fit out involved some unusual tasks including removing minute arsenic traces left from industrial quantities of oily fish.
The gallery displays feature around 2,000 artefacts.
Displays in the former smoke houses provide interpretation of the building and its curing processes, including how to tell the difference between the famous Yarmouth bloater, kipper and red herring - it’s all in the amount of additional salt and smoke.
On the first floor there are eight galleries that tell the story of Great Yarmouth over time helped by audio-visual elements, archive film, sound effects, animation and specially commissioned film.
A feasibility study focusing on the Tower Curing Works as a new and improved home for the seafront’s Maritime Museum was carried out as early as 1995. The project became official in 2002 and was the realisation of a 14-year dream for Stephen Earl who led the project and was made an MBE for his work elevating Yarmouth’s under-appreciated heritage.
To celebrate, the museum is opening to visitors for free on Monday from 4-7pm.