Norwich museum closer to re-opening

The long-awaited reopening of a much-loved Norwich museum has moved a step closer after it was revealed today that phase one of a �1.5m redevelopment project was completed.

As part of the refurbishment at the Bridewell Museum in Bridewell Alley, a new entrance has been created and lifts have been installed to make the building more accessible.

The museum, which has been closed for about three years, has also been rewired and redecorated, and additional improvements have been made to visitor facilities.

Meanwhile, a �2000 cheque was today presented by Lady Laurel Walpole of the Wolterton and Mannington Estate to fund the new displays at the museum that will showcase the collections of the famous Norwich hat maker – Rumsey Wells, who already has a pub named after him in the city, The Rumsey Wells, in St Andrew's Street.

The money was raised at the estate's costume and textile fair last year.

Rachel Kirk, Norwich museums' manager, said: 'We feel the development is going really well. The building is now essentially finished and next stage will start soon.'

Jenny Caynes, project officer at Bridewell Museum, said today's event was a chance for people to discover how the development was progressing. Displays at the museum, which is a grade II listed building that once served as a prison and a shoe factory, are also being refreshed to widen the focus from trades and industries to tell the story of Norwich, its people and their everyday lives.

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Earlier this year, it emerged that the reopening of the museum had been put back from autumn this year to next summer.

A county council report at the time suggested that the delay was linked to the need to find cuts within the department.

But it also emerged that work had been delayed following the discovery of asbestos on the site, and also contractual problems with the fitting of new display cabinets.

Work at the museum, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, began in April last year. The revised opening date for the museum is June 2012.