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Topic: What future for Enfield's Museum and Archive Service?

What future for Enfield's Museum and Archive Service?
11 Jul 2020 20:17 #5426

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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[Original article]

Ever since the news slipped out in March that the museum and local studies service would be losing their current accommodation in the Dugdale Centre, the Enfield Society has been seeking information and reassurances about their future location and accessibility. A letter to the council leader has gone unanswered, and the Society is now asking members and other residents to write to the leader, council officers and local councillors.

"We pride ourselves on our events"

enfield local studies and archive sign

The Local Studies Centre is currently located in Thomas Hardy House (the Dugdale Centre), but its future address remains a mystery

Enfield Council is currently seeking to recruit a new Museum Officer, with a salary in the range £29,766 - £30,708. Advertisements for the post boast that

"Enfield Museum is a nationally accredited local authority funded museum based in the Dugdale Centre in the heart of Enfield Town.

"We have many years of successful partnership working and are well known for our work with community and educational groups. The large local and social history collections reflect the history of the borough and its people and we curate additions regularly to include new and diverse communities. We pride ourselves on a number of events which attract around 40K visitors a year to our exhibitions and activities."

The successful candidate will

"[...] be the Borough’s museum professional and take full responsibility for every aspect of the museum’s work, using your energy and skills to deliver for the future. Much of your time will be spent compiling and running our programme of major exhibitions and associated events and finding new ways to attract different audiences. You will also get the opportunity to work in partnership with our knowledgeable and enthusiastic residents and supportive colleagues such as our Local Studies Officer."

What the advert doesn't point out to candidates is that it there are some big question marks hanging over the future of the museum. How much longer will it remain "in the heart of Enfield Town"? Where will the museum be holding the "major exhibitions" that attract so many visitors? Will Local Studies continue to be co-located with the museum?

No room in the Dugdale

Enfield Life exhibition in the Dugdale Centre

The first floor area which houses the Enfield Life permanent exhibits will become part of the Children's & Families Hub

These questions arise because most of the accommodation currently occupied by the museum and local studies archives has been earmarked for a new Children's and Families Services Hub, which will co-locate services that are currently scattered around the borough while providing a better environment for users of the service. As things stand, it appears that the only space available to the museum will be on the ground floor (the area used for temporary exhibitions), while there will be no room at all for the archives.

Since March, when news broke about impending changes at Thomas Hardy House (the official name of the building housing the Dugdale Centre), the Enfield Society has been seeking information and reassurances about the fate of the museum and archives. A meeting between the Society and council leader Nesil Caliskan in May failed to provide any hard information or reassurances about their future. A letter sent to Cllr Caliskan on 26th June (read the text below) has so far gone unanswered, and the Society is now calling on its members and anyone else concerned about the fate of these services to write to the council leader, senior officers and their local councillors.

"Enfield 229"

The continuing uncertainty about their future comes less than five years after campaigners - among them a group called "Enfield 229" - succeeded in persuading the council to abandon a plan to remove the museum from the first floor and greatly restrict public access to the archives. Following the campaign, the museum and archives remained in situ, but cuts to the number of staff went ahead.

How a mammoths's tooth helped save the museum and local studies centre

Front page of Enfield 229 newsletter dated September 2015The name "Enfield 229" comes from the reference number of one of the oldest objects in the museum's collection:  Bd.229 - a 10,000 year old mammoth's tooth found in 1909 and displayed in Southgate Town Hall from 1914.  It was so popular that it inspired the creation of the borough's first museum.

The campaign, during 2015, was launched in response to a proposal by the council to take away the exhibition space on the ground floor of the Dugdale Centre and make access to the local studies centre and archives by appointment only.

A significant difference between the 2015 proposals and the bigger changes currently planned for the Dugdale Centre was that in 2015 the council ran a consultation with an online questionnaire. Currently, the council has given no clues whatever about its plans for the museum and archives.

The proposals and the eventual decisions were discussed by the council's overview and scrutiny committee in November 2015.

Is the headline used by Enfield 229 in 2015 just as relevant in 2020? Let's hope not, but it would certainly help to have some reassurance from the council.

Despite the downsizing, both services have subsequently celebrated notable successes. The museum mounted two exhibitions - Hidden Treasures: Revealing Broomfield House and Park (2018) and Enfield at War 1939-45 (2019). Both exhibitions were supplemented by an extensive programme of events and activities for residents, young and old. In 2018 the local studies services was awarded official accreditation by the UK Archive Service Accreditation Partnership. Regular Archives in Focus, Behind the Scenes, and The Museum of Enfield Presents events continued until Lockdown. Remarkable achievements, considering that, as pointed out in the Enfield Society letter, staffing levels in both museum and local studies have now been reduced to the absolute minimum.

A request from the Enfield Society

enfield society logo wide

We are asking our members and the general public to write to the Leader of Enfield Council (Cllr Nesil Caliskan, ), local councillors, the Chief Exec (Ian Davis, ) and the Director of Property (Mark Bradbury, ) asking the Council to consult with us over plans for the Museum, Local Studies Library and Archive.

At the end of June we wrote to the Leader but as of Friday 10th July have not had a reply. That letter has now been sent to all Councillors and the Chief Exec. Please send us a copy of any e-mail you send. You can reach us at .

Please consider using some of these points when writing to the Council:

  • Where is the Local Studies Library and Archive going to move to? Will it be accessible by public transport and accessible by those with disabilities?
  • During the move of the museum and archive they will be closed and inaccessible to the public.
  • Fragile museum objects and archival material could be damaged when moved threatening their stability and integrity.
  • There will be costs associated with employing a specialist removal firm to move the collections.
  • What will happen to the temporary exhibition space on the ground floor? This space is vital for a changing exhibition programme as it ensures items from the museum’s stores are seen by members of the public.
  • What will happen to the permanent exhibition space which showcases the history of the borough and used by school visits?
  • When are we going to be consulted on these changes?
  • Moving the museum could lead to loss of accreditation from the Arts Council (the Museum of Enfield is the only accredited museum in the borough), and for movement of the archive loss of accredited status with The National Archive.
  • Loss of accreditation will mean that the Museum and Archive are not eligible for grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, NLHF, and other bodies such as the London Museum Development team at the Museum of London.
  • The move of the archive and the museum will affect the ability to meet the ambitious but very commendable and worthwhile Heritage Strategy published by the Council in 2019 and the draft Local Plan.
  • The move of the archive from a central location will mean it is more difficult to address the report of the Enfield Town Consultative Group with its emphasis on heritage in Enfield Town.
  • Considerable costs were incurred by the council when the Local Studies Library and archive were moved from Palmers Green Library in 2008 providing reinforced floors for the purpose-built roller racking for the collections and air conditioning of 16-18c to comply with British Standard 5454.
  • The Museum’s permanent displays on the first floor—the Enfield Life Gallery and People and Places Picture gallery—were created on the first floor in 2012 with show cases containing bandit proof glass and high quality Abloy locks, also at substantial cost.
  • The council recently spent considerable amounts of public money refurbishing Charles Babbage House for Children and Youth Services which will now be sold off.
  • Why did the Council fail to inform affected staff at the Dugdale Centre when it announced the move by e-mail to the rest of Council staff?

Letter from the Enfield Society to the leader of Enfield Council, sent 26 June 2020

Councillor Nesil Caliskan
London Borough of Enfield Civic Centre
Silver Street
Enfield EN1 3XA

Dear Councillor Caliskan,


At our meeting on the 15th May we raised our concerns about the future of the Museum and the Local Studies Library and Archive. You were unable to provide us with any reassurance that a plan existed for these services when the space occupied on the first floor of the Dugdale Centre is taken over by the Children’s and Youth Services.

Since the meeting we have heard nothing more and continue to be extremely concerned about the fate of the Museum and Local Studies. It appears that plans to relocate the services are continuing apace without full consideration of the consequences of these moves and without any consultation with stakeholders in the borough.

We are aware that the decision to relocate the Children’s and Youth Service was agreed by Cabinet on 11th March this year. However, we feel that the decision did not give proper regard to the Council’s own strategy and planning. The Council’s Heritage Strategy and draft Local Plan, and the Report of the Enfield Town Study Group, all emphasise the importance of the Museum and the Local Studies Library and Archive in the Council’s plans for the Borough. We detail this in the Supporting Evidence attached.

Ii is hard to imagine how the ambitious but very worthwhile agenda set out in these documents can be delivered if the Museum and Local Studies are moved out of the first floor of the Dugdale Centre, unless similar space with comparable facilities can be provided in a central location. The remaining rooms on the ground floor of the Dugdale Centre are wholly inadequate for a display of the Museum’s permanent collection. Failure to provide adequate accommodation could result in a fragmented service across the borough—something which is particularly relevant when there is only one member of staff in Local Studies and one in the Museum.

Other salient points to consider:

  • The museum and archive staff have worked hard to retain their accredited archive and museum status. We have a real fear that accredited status could be lost if the service is forced to move to inadequate premises. This would mean they would no longer be eligible for grants from the lottery or other bodies.
  • The Museum of Enfield is the only accredited museum in the borough. It is hard to imagine how the museum and archive could promote itself and provide a service to users if no home for its permanent displays has even been identified.
  • It is clear that considerable costs have already been incurred by the Council to set up the existing Museum and Local Studies Library and Archive. The archive store at the Dugdale was purpose built with reinforced floors to take the specialist custom built roller racking for storing books and documents. This store also has air conditioning controlled to 16oC–18oC in line with British Standard BS 5454. The permanent displays—the Enfield Life Gallery and People and Places Picture Gallery—were created on the first floor in 2012 with bandit proof glass cases and high quality Abloy locks. Replacing these facilities and the use of specialist removers for the Museum and Archive will incur considerable further expense. At a time of extreme pressure on Council finances the Society must ask if this is a wise use of public money.

Could you please now advise us of the plans for the future of the Local Studies Library and Archive and the Museum Gallery and what consultation will be offered to stakeholders before any decision is taken.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Pointer
Joint President

Monica Smith MBE
Joint President

Dave Cockle

Approved by

Matthew Saunders MB
Vice President

Dr Leonard Will
Vice President


Local studies and archive: Please write to LBE (Enfield Society 10 July 2020)

Enfield Society writes to the Leader about the Museum and Archive Service (Enfield Society 1 July 2020)

Enfield Society letter to council leader: Supporting evidence

Petition launched opposing Dugdale Centre changes (Palmers Green Community 6 March 2020

Reports about the 2015 consultation

2015 consultation (Wayback Machine copy)

Discussion of the Local Studies and Museum Consultation by the Scrutiny & Overview Committee, November 2015

Enfield Archives and Local Studies - council consultation on service provision (Bowes & Bounds Connected September 2015)

Campaign launched to save Enfield Museum and Archive Services (Palmers Green Community 29 September 2015)

Council rethink on museum and archives service cuts (Palmers Green Community 25 November 2015)

Digital plans for Dugdale Centre revised after criticism (Enfield Independent 30 November 2015)

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What future for Enfield's Museum and Archive Service?
16 Jul 2020 00:24 #5427

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The Enfield Society's concerns about the museum and archives have been picked up by local democracy reporter Simon Allin. His report quotes a council spokesperson as saying

“The museum will remain at Thomas Hardy House with permanent displays relocated to the ground floor. We are working on a detailed design and will share proposals in due course.

“Options for the location of the archive are currently being reviewed. Accessibility will be a key consideration. We will again share proposals in due course.”

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What future for Enfield's Museum and Archive Service?
21 Jul 2020 20:42 #5440

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The Enfield Society posted an update on its website on 20th July.

Thanks to everyone who has written in the past few days to Cllr Caliskan, Ian Davis and Mark Bradbury, asking for the Council’s plans for the Museum and Local Studies Library and Archive which are being displaced at the Dugdale Centre.

We have now seen (several) e-mails from Mark Bradbury in reply. These make it clear that the permanent displays of the Museum, currently on level 1 of the Dugdale Centre, are to be moved to a “redesigned” ground floor. The Enfield Society remains to be convinced there is sufficient space and we are opposed to any loss of the current temporary exhibition space.

The e-mails admit there is no proposal (yet) for the Archive. This means it is now over four months since the decision was taken by Cabinet on 11th March when, clearly, there was no proposal for the location of the Archive presented at the same time.

You may like to sign the petition on change.org which, although does not mention either the Museum or the Archive, nonetheless relates to the decision to move the Children and Families Services into the building.

The proposal to create more council offices in the Dugdale Centre comes at a time when the “Civic Centre” is now only 50% occupied by the Council. Truly Alice-in-Wonderland stuff!

(Source: enfieldsociety.org.uk/2020/07/20/lbe-replies-to-e-mails-about-the-museum-and-archive/ )

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