Stockport’s town museum and Chadkirk Chapel are both under threat of permanent closure. Stockport’s remaining museums are to have reduced opening hours and increased admission prices.
Stockport Museum currently holds the very important findings from the archaeological community dig at Mellor’s Iron Age hilltop settlement, which took years to complete. Its other important collections feature artefacts from the Stone Age, Medieval, Civil War and Victorian times, as well as World War 2. These collections would no longer be on show to the public.
Chadkirk Chapel is in a country estate that includes the church, St Chad’s Well and a walled garden. The council is proposing to remove all funding from it in the hope that it could be run by volunteers. The Friends of Chadkirk Chapel have stated that they do not have the resources to do this.
Stockport Council hopes to save £150,000 by closing the two museums and reducing the opening hours of their other museums, namely The Hat Works Museum, Staircase House, Air Raid Shelters and Bramall Hall. They have launched a consultation on the matter (which is now closed) but have been criticised for failing to make the public fully aware of the consultation.
It seems short-sighted to close these venues for two reasons:
Firstly, Stockport Museum is a draw for people to visit the town. Standing next door to the Staircase House, people will often visit both venues. To close one means it is less likely people will come and visit the other. A town centre needs more than just shops (a sector that is having trouble of its own). If a town takes away leisure facilities and destinations that encourage people to visit and spend money, this will also impact on the retail business around such venues.
The other argument against closure is that culture and history in and of themselves are valuable. To constantly cut back, close and deny people access to these places is damaging to civil society. Our history matters, and to deprive people of the knowledge of such an important asset is wrong.
There is still time to make your voice heard. Although the consultation is over, Change.org has a petition that you can sign. You can also leave a comment on the website if you wish. Access the website here.