Havering Museum celebrates five years of bringing the community closer to its history
PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 June 2015
From the heartbreak and loss experienced on the Home Front in the First World War, to the history of Romford Market, Havering Museum connects the community with the rich heritage which is all around us.
But five years ago, Havering did not even have the attraction – and was the only borough not to have its own museum.
A 10-year battle to enable Havering to preserve its past was finally won by residents in 2010 and the museum, on the site of the former Romford Brewery, is now marking its milestone.
Chairman Peter Stewart said: “We are all very proud of what we have achieved.
“We have become, I think, a pretty important part of the local area.”
As part of the celebrations, the attraction, in High Street, Romford, has staged a play – Havering’s History in a Hurry.
As the title suggests, volunteers ran through almost 1,000 years of Havering, featuring William Shakespeare, rumoured to have stayed at the Golden Lion pub when it was owned by fellow playwright Francis Bacon, and Edward the Confessor, who built Havering-atte-Bower’s first royal palace in the 11th century.
Peter said: “The volunteers decided we had to do something special for our fifth anniversary and Havering is steeped in history.
“It took about six months for them to organise. We have a wonderful team of more than 60 volunteers who give up so much of their time.”
The museum was created by a group of residents who led the campaign, among them historian Brian Evans and former chairman Ian Wilkes.
Peter, who joined as a front of house volunteer before it opened, said: “Local historians and collectors who had collected artefacts through the years got together, called themselves the Friends of Havering Museum and campaigned.
“The council offered part of the old Romford Brewery building and we got a grant of almost £1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”
The museum now runs activities such as its Havering’s Hedgehogs club, reminiscence group and photographic group.
Its upcoming exhibitions include a display in September on Sutton’s Farm Aerodrome, in Hornchurch, which played a vital role in the world wars.
On the volunteers’ aspirations, Peter said: “We want to develop the collection as much as we can and encourage people to bring in their artefacts. We also want to develop our work in the community.
“We are making an effort to bring schools in, but we also want to go out to them and make people aware of just how much history and heritage this borough contains.”