Yorkshire Waterways Museum is part of a charity for vulnerable people. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Lack of funding tips Yorkshire Waterways Museum into insolvency

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 09.05.2019
Popular museum to close next week due to financial difficulties
A much-loved museum and charity for vulnerable people in East Yorkshire is to close next week, due the current economic climate and a “reduction in the available public funding” for charities. 

Founded in 1980, the Yorkshire Waterways Museum and the Sobriety Project is an independent charity that uses the environment of the Yorkshire waterways as a “resource for learning and education”. Located in Goole’s docklands by the River Ouse, the venue holds a wide collection of historic artefacts and archives related to waterways and boating, as well as local artwork. 

The museum is one arm of the Sobriety Project, which helps people in rehabilitation from drug or alcohol dependency, as well as other vulnerable adults and children. The organisation also runs boat trips, engineering and woodwork shops, and a range of community events. 

The charity has called in the insolvency firm Revive Business Recovery and is due to close on 15 May.

In a statement, Revive Business Recovery said: “Funding in the charities sector has shrunk and unfortunately this has had a negative impact on the museum.”

Acknowledging that news of the closure would be “upsetting for many”, the firm said the organisation was no longer able to cover its costs and had been facing a funding shortage month on month. 

It said: “Various cost-cutting exercises (and fund-building exercises) were explored by the trustees and staff, however a critical point has now been reached…  The trustees have taken steps to close [the charity] as they do not want the position to get any worse.”

The firm said that members of the public who had loaned exhibits to the museum would be contacted to collect them. It added that the firm’s appointed liquidator, Claire Foster, would deal with the charity’s assets “appropriately in accordance with the guidance of the Museums Association [MA] and the Insolvency Act and Laws”.

The firm said that Foster and her staff would be happy to discuss rescue options with any interested parties, but that suggestions “would need to move the charity to a sustainable position month on month”. Interested parties can contact Foster on 01302 695485.

The MA’s policy officer, Alistair Brown, said: “It’s really sad to hear the news that Yorkshire Waterways Museum is closing. It has played an important role as a guardian of local industrial heritage as well as being a champion for volunteers and vulnerable people in the community in Goole. Given that the organisation is now in the hands of the receivers, we are obviously very concerned about the future of the collection, which includes a number of vessels and archives that are historically significant. 

We have encouraged the museum to use the MA’s legal and ethical guidance for museums facing closure, and have written to the receivers with the hope of safeguarding the collection and keeping it in the local community. We will be watching carefully to see how the situation develops.”

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