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Lily Newton-Browne Weston Mercury May 10, 2021   

A number of museums across the region are preparing to reopen from May 18.  

Providing the Government’s four-step roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions in England goes to plan, indoor hospitality, cinemas, hotels, performances and sporting events also restart, with limitations on capacity, from May 17.

Weston Museum is now getting ready to open its doors to visitors next week. 

From May 18, the museum will open from 10am and to celebrate, a new exhibition in the William Mable gallery, Wild Hares and Hummingbirds, has been installed.  

People are being invited to discover more about the county’s animals, plants and birds at the exhibition, which is based on the book, ‘Wild Hares and Hummingbirds: The Natural History of an English Village’, by the naturalist Stephen Moss.

In collaboration with Weston Town Council, there will be a Facebook Live interview with Stephen Moss on Wednesday at 6pm. The event is free-of-charge and will be available to join on the town council Facebook page.

Matt Hardy, museum operations manager at Weston Museum, said: “The team have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure that we are ready to welcome everyone back as safely as possible. I wish to thank everyone for their continued support of the museum and we cannot wait to see you again.” 

The museum reopens Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am-4pm. Clara’s Café will also serve a range of drinks, homemade cakes and light lunches from 11am-3pm. 

People do not need to pre-book at Weston Museum, which will operate with a reduced capacity to aid social distancing. There will also be hand sanitiser stations across the museum and table service at the café. 

Oakham Treasures, at Portbury’s Oakham Farm in Portbury Lane, is one of the UK’s largest privately-owned museums of retail and farming history, which will also reopen on May 18. 

The owner, Keith Sherrell, is a 5th generation West Country Farmer and began collecting farm machinery in the 1960s, as well as steadily building up a varied museum of items from the old high street, including an old grocery store, haberdashery, hardware store, chemist, tobacconist, off licence, and sweet shop. 

A spokesman from Oakham Treasures said: “We’re eager to get back to welcoming visitors to Oakham Treasures on May 18, and, of course, our staff whom we haven’t see this year yet. 
“Not much has been happening behind the scenes in lockdown, but we have our dusters ready to get back in the swing of things from opening day. 

“Our café will be stocked and ready to go as well.” 

Oakham Treasures reopens on May 18 from 10am-5pm. The museum opens Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm, no booking is needed and Covid-secure measures will be in place.

The Helicopter Museum interior in 2019. – Credit: Archant

The Helicopter Museum, in Weston’s Locking Moor Road, is also looking forward to welcoming people back through its doors on May 19.

Chair of trustees, Elfan Ap Rees, said: “We are really looking forward to reopening on May 19 and getting back to normal with new displays and a new events calendar for the summer months.

“The lockdown has been tough on the museum, with no regular income and Government and local grants just sufficient to keep us ticking over.”

Mr Ap Rees added that volunteers have ‘come up trumps’ over the past six months, refreshing and building new displays, tidying up the outside areas and most recently carrying out a deep clean of aircraft and facilities to ensure it is Covid-safe.

He added: “Among that which has been done is the introduction of a new engine collection bay and updated interactive area, as well as the completion of a coffee shop and retail area, designed to facilitate local visitors who don’t necessarily want to keep visiting the main museum. 

“We hope this refresh of the main collection and a one-way system to provide social distancing will tempt all visitors to tour the whole collection, including the Weston Aviation Exhibition in the adjacent Pilots Block, which goes beyond helicopters with the history of RAF Locking, Bristol Aerojet, Westland and, of course, the airfield itself since it opened in 1936.”

Visitors do not need to pre-book and the museum is also offering a 30 per cent discount off the 2021 admission prices during the coming months to encourage the public to return.

The Helicopter Museum reopens on May 19 from 10am-5.30pm.