The building work is progressing steadily. The steel skeleton inside number 80 is now complete and the staircase is in place. The lift will be installed in early April. Once all the heavy work is complete the more delicate operations in number 78 can begin. Mary Schoeser and Allyson McDermott have been liaising with the architects and contractors about how they want each room left for when they come in July to do the decorative finishes. The specialist ironmongery is about to be ordered, including getting the fireback for the lounge-hall cast. The fabrics for the hall curtains and that for the guest bedroom have been ordered. Bridgend Joinery of Kendal have now started on the replication of the front door.
A graphic designer has been appointed for the project. He is Tim Driscoll, of Exhibition and Interiors, based in Wellingborough. Sarah Jackson, the architect, Perilla Kinchin, the researcher, and I are working with him on the design of the exhibition. He will also be designing the school packs as well as all the stationery we shall need.
Les Patterson, Secretary to the Trust, Rob Kendall, Chair of The Friends of 78, and I have had a meeting with the officers of the Bassett-Lowke Society. Both as a Society and individually they are very keen to help our project. They want to incorporate a clause into their constitution stating that if their Society folds up their collection of Bassett-Lowke material will pass to the Trust. We are negotiating the finer details of this arrangement, in line with our collection policy. They will lend us photographs to be used for the exhibition. Individually, a number of their members will probably lend us model trains and ships.
I am currently writing a ‘Collection Policy’ for the Trust. This will detail how the collections will be recorded and cared for and also set out the priorities for acquisitions. The main focus of our collection is the Mackintosh revamp of 78 Derngate and anything which relates to that is of prime importance. Other items relating to Mackintosh, Bassett-Lowke (man and business), the history of the house itself, will be of varying and lesser importance. Once the policy has been agreed with the Trustees an outline of this acquisition policy will be printed in the Friends’ Newsletter.
The many administrative systems which will be needed when we open are now occupying my time, and are not very exciting to write about in the Newsletter: These include marketing, booking systems, visitor flow, guide recruitment and training, and the setting up of a small shop. I am being helped with the shop by a steering committee, which includes Shirley Curtis of the Friends. There is a meeting for volunteers at 7pm on 14 May in the Jeffery Room at the Guildhall, Northampton. If any of you would like to help, either as a guide or in the shop, or in any other way, and have not yet come forward, please give me a ring or drop me an e-mail or write. Come October it will be all hands to the pump!
First published in April 2003 in The Friends of 78 Derngate Newsletter Issue 23.
Author: Dr Sylvia Pinches
Transcribed 2018: Barbara Floyer