Torquay Museum launches vital Crowdfunding campaign

Edward Vivian

Edward Vivian - Credit: Archant

Torquay Museum and the society that founded it have been fundraising from its very beginning in 1844.

Hydrofoil in the harbour in September, 1964 (PR7040)

Hydrofoil in the harbour in September, 1964 (PR7040) - Credit: Archant

One of its first acts was to organise a garden party to raise funds and, in many respects, little has changed in 175 years.

The person, the museum and the town must thank most is the society's first treasurer Edward Vivian. This local banker, magistrate, artist, and editor of the Torquay Directory, championed many local causes, creating the Vivian Institute for the education of young men in Fleet Street.

It was largely through Vivian's efforts that the current beautiful venetian gothic museum building in Babbacome Road was financed and it has been preserving the heritage of Torbay there since 1876.

Torquay Museum is an independent museum and has always been so. For the first 85 years, it survived on income generated by admissions, fundraising and legacies from its members. It was not until 1928 that it received any support from the local council.

The Paget-Blake collection on display in Torquay Museum

The Paget-Blake collection on display in Torquay Museum - Credit: Archant

In that year, the Paget-Blake Collection of more than 1,000 'curios' from around the world, which belonged to the town council and had been on show in the Baths Saloon, was moved to the museum. The council then began to support the museum in its upkeep and display.

This collection can still be seen in the museum in the 'Explorers Gallery' and although it was gifted to the museum in 2006, the council still supports the work of the museum through a vital grant of £37,000 per year.

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This is the only fixed income the museum has - the rest is still self-generated.

The museum needs to raise at least £170,000 per year, in addition to the council grant, to keep the doors open and the bills paid.

Hancock's Fair in Paignton, c1900 (PR16178)

Hancock's Fair in Paignton, c1900 (PR16178) - Credit: Archant

This is achieved through admissions tickets, shop and café sales, events and donations which is why the museum is a registered charity.

The Covid-19 pandemic will severely disrupt the museum's ability to raise these vital funds and could see the museum have to close for good. We are asking Torbay Weekly readers to help us initially raise £25,000 through our Crowdfunding campaign to get us through this difficult time.

Wherever we can, we will try and reward your generous donations in some way. Thank you for supporting us! To donate, search for Torquay Museum on crowdfunder.co.uk