The need for more space, and a permanent home
Park Hall was fitted out with the few cupboards which had been designed for our first home in the Caretaker’s Cottage and Harpenden Hall, supplemented by miscelleanweous shelving units, old filing cabinets, a wooden map chest and secure steel cupboards for important items. However, many of the artefacts were stored in the loft at 25 Overstone Road, home of our curator Les Casey.
We need a larger and centrally placed display and archive space to achieve our mission to showcase local history in Harpenden and the north of the District. We believe that such a facility should become a part of a wider ‘space’ devoted to celebrating the town’s heritage and culture. We estimate we need at least 900 square feet for a display and archive facility to house/display the collection as a whole, including those parts of the collection still stored in members’ homes.
The Society is currently at a crossroads. We know that space on the scale we would need to operate an effective display and archive centre would require considerable capital and revenue funding. With the acknowledgement that the Society cannot realistically be expected to acquire its own premises or finance a full blown museum operation, we are currently seeking support for space in a community based environment.
It is hoped that, with ongoing support from a combination of our partners in Hertfordshire County Council, St Albans District Council Museum Service and the Town Council, we can find such a space. Options which have been under consideration have included the Victoria Road Further Education site (since sold for redevelopment as Harpenden Free School) and the former Argos site in Lower High Street, where the library and Youth connexions services have been relocated. We have been allocated two display cabinets in the library for small temporary displays, but this does not ease access to our archives or provide the study area/store room exhibition space for larger displays.
We were actively involved in the ‘WeAre! Harpenden’ project which sought funding under the Government’s Our Place initiative to improve access to arts, culture and heritage in Harpenden, to raise the Society’s profile in community. However Harpenden Town Council’s bid was not successful.
We now hope that plans to develop Arts, Culture and Heritage facilities for Harpenden, including a museum, will come to fruition.