It was on this day last year, the 7th January 2019, that we were finally able to announce to the public that Ely Museum had been awarded a grant of £1.66 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to allow our project to unlock the potential of the Old Gaol to become a reality!

Our project is now in full swing with the builders on site and making excellent progress in making our vision for the new Ely Museum a reality!

This grant has been made possible thanks to money raised by The National Lottery players & alongside the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, we have also received support from a number of local and national trusts and foundations, East Cambridgeshire District Council and the City of Ely Council. We were also delighted to receive many generous donations and welcomed the enthusiasm of local people – your support has made this project possible – so THANK YOU!

We’ve welcomed new members of the team, lots of contractors and of course our brilliant team of volunteers, all of whom have been instrumental in the excellent start we’ve had to our project!

Here are just a few highlights from our year:

In January we were able to publicly announce our brilliant news & were overwhelmed with all the lovely messages of congratulations we received! You can read our post, which is our most liked ever, here: https://www.facebook.com/…/a.101509347293…/10156472799398876

In February we welcomed David & Simon from Simon Leach Design to visit the museum and were delighted to see their first drafts of designs for the new galleries! We’re still finalising these but can’t wait to see how the new museum will look!

March bought excellent news from East Cambridgeshire District Council – the museum had been awarded £165k of Community Infrastructure Level funding. This CIL money comes from a levy put on most new developments by the council and is then used to help with infrastructure of projects such as ours to help support their growth.

In April we were able to finalise our designs with HAT Projects, our architects, for the designs of the building – it is so exciting to see these plans and models coming to life now our builders are here!

We met with staff at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology in May to finalise some interesting object loans that will be displayed in our new galleries. These objects were found locally here in Ely so it will be great to have them on display

Emily was appointed as our Community Engagement Officer in June, having previously worked on the museum front desk and in managing our social media, her role includes looking after our volunteers, events and outreach programme during the project

We recruited for volunteers to help with our packing up of the museum in July and then spent all of August and September packing up both our stored and displayed collections! Did you know that 26 volunteers & museum staff spent over 700 hours packing up our collection this summer?! It was a big job with thousands of objects, while some objects were very straightforward, others left us scratching our heads on numerous occasions! You can read more about our packing up in our blog post HERE

By October the museum staff were settled into their new temporary offices but still enjoyed several sneak peaks into the Old Gaol! Thank you to all at R G Carter, our builders, who have allowed us onto site several times & even welcomed lots of you to our Hard Hat tours in November. Read more about our tour of the empty gaol in our blog post HERE

November also bought our first event at Ely Markets – we bought along some photos of the Cambridgeshire Regiment for identification, a story also picked up by the BBC too and gave Phil the opportunity to try out his new replica WW1 uniform! We love meeting you all at our events so do come and say hello if you see us about!

Finally we wrapped up 2019 with a visit from our much loved Father Christmas in December, this year he joined us in the Sessions House this year but will enjoy his visit back to the new Ely Museum next year

2020 will be another year full of excitement for the museum as we see our next building take shape, install our new exhibitions and then reopen to the public this autumn