Repairs to Swindon museum and art gallery ‘no obstacle’ to reopening, supporters say
THE closed home of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery needs a new roof or the current leak repaired, its boilers repaired and a new fire alarm system.
But supporters who want the Old Town building to reopen as soon as possible say the list of necessary works is neither prohibitive nor insurmountable.
Apsley House, on the corner of Bath Road and Victoria Road, has been closed since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Although Swindon Borough Council agreed to consider reopening it, they said it was not suitable for long-term use and it would cost thousands of pounds and not be not profitable.
An official list of issues has been provided to Patrick Herring – the South Swindon Parish Councilor for Eastcott – by the Borough Council.
He lists seven problems caused by humidity in galleries – mainly mold or water stains on ceilings and walls, but also a vaulted ceiling over a hallway.
He indicates that the two boilers are broken, that a new fire alarm system is needed and that water is passing through the ceiling of the archeology gallery.
The report says, “The roofers said the roof needed to be repaired or replaced. ”
The issue has been forwarded to the council’s real estate team but has not been updated.
Coun Herring said: “In summary, there is a list of maintenance work that has been compiled by council building services, and it does not appear that quotes have been requested for the work.
“You can judge for yourself exactly how much of this work is important enough to prevent visitor access, or how much money that would represent. ”
Parish Councilor and President of the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Linda Kasmaty, agreed.
She said, “Patrick is right. This is not a major obstacle to the reopening of Apsley House.
“The council has put money aside for this, I don’t know why they don’t go ahead and spend it to open Apsley House.
“A town the size of Swindon needs a museum and an art gallery. I know that the town hall wants to open a new one in the cultural district, but we don’t know how long it will take.
“He should spend the money he has to fix these issues and reopen Apsley House.”
Robert Jandy, Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Recreation and City Center Experience, said: “The critical work described focuses only on the overdue maintenance that needs to be done on Apsley House .
“It does not take into account the considerable additional work that is required to improve accessibility so that anyone who wishes to access the collections can do so.
“We know from previous estimates that this work would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, but board officials have re-examined this in light of recent discussions I have had with representatives of the Friends of the Museum and the Swindon Art Gallery.
“A report examining options for presenting our fabulous art and museum collections to the greatest number and benefit is currently being drafted and will be presented to the Board of Directors for consideration.”