Story Museum could open next year

Plans for the Story Museum

Plans for the Story Museum

First published in Oxford The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Oxford Times Chief Reporter. Call me on 01865 425434

OXFORD’S Story Museum still needs to raise £8m for its eye-catching “cathedral of stories” development.

But the organisation has announced plans to open part of the £11.5m attraction as early as next year, two years earlier than originally planned.

The turreted museum with rooftop walkways to celebrate storytelling, was approved by Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee earlier this month. It was originally not expected to open before 2015.

But museum co-director Tish Francis said she plans to open up a third of the three-storey building by the end of 2013, while the fundraising continues.

So far £3.5m has been raised for the project, including an anonymous donation of £2.2m.

Now armed with planning approval, they will be bidding for funding from statutory and charitable bodies early in the New Year.

Ms Francis said: “The sooner we get the museum open and bringing money to cover some of our costs the better. The longer it is closed, the more money will have to be raised.”

The museum is currently housed in Rochester House, with parts of the building variously used as a pub, stables, post office sorting office and telephone exchange.

Ms Francis expects to open a large gallery on the first floor of the new development, along with a shop and cafe on the ground floor, facing out onto Pembroke Street.

The museum has been encouraged to open earlier by the enthusiastic response to exhibitions, storytelling events, tours and workshops, attracting 15,000 people to the building for one-off events. It would also establish its presence in the city centre in advance of extensive building work.

Museum co-director Kim Pickin said: “The endorsement by the council marks a new chapter in the museum’s progress from pauper to prince – and brings us another step closer to the palace. It will be the first museum of its kind in the world. “ The plans for the 20,000 sq ft site cover the refurbishment, repair and upgrade of three existing buildings and courtyard; new lift towers and a rooftop walkway leading to a story lookout tower with a viewing platform.

Plans were modified after concerns from English Heritage, with materials for two small turrets changed from timber to copper and a stone surround to the gated entrance now proposed.

The museum proposes to employ 26 full-time staff in addition to volunteers, with estimated annual visitor numbers put between 90,000 and 110,000.

Comments (3)

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1:40pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Myron Blatz says...

Just hope this won't be another 'white elephant' like The Oxford Story in Broad Street was, before it closed. Likewise, the former Oxford Jail development, which has consistently failed to attract tourist 'foot fall' to the various venues - especially a variety of markets which have been staged there. Given, the shortage of Prison accommodation in England, maybe it would have made more sense to have kept the Prison - or did it become an unwanted eyesore for tourism in the 'bigger picture' of Oxford - City of Dreaming Spires?
Just hope this won't be another 'white elephant' like The Oxford Story in Broad Street was, before it closed. Likewise, the former Oxford Jail development, which has consistently failed to attract tourist 'foot fall' to the various venues - especially a variety of markets which have been staged there. Given, the shortage of Prison accommodation in England, maybe it would have made more sense to have kept the Prison - or did it become an unwanted eyesore for tourism in the 'bigger picture' of Oxford - City of Dreaming Spires? Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

6:23pm Fri 28 Dec 12

carfax cabby ox1 says...

The Oxford Story was a very good and interesting attraction and was possibly only closed due to the owners wanting the building back after the lease ended. The Castle attraction on the other hand is rather boring, and a bit of a con as there is very little of the castle and a lot of the prison.
The Oxford Story was a very good and interesting attraction and was possibly only closed due to the owners wanting the building back after the lease ended. The Castle attraction on the other hand is rather boring, and a bit of a con as there is very little of the castle and a lot of the prison. carfax cabby ox1
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Myron Blatz says...

Apparently, CarfaxCabby, some tourists used to think The Oxford Story was actually part of the living, breathing University of Oxford - though for that, they should have visited Hertford college during the 1960s and '70s! As for the Oxford Castle Experience, according to one of the Prison's former inmates I met at one of the first fairs at the newly re-opened site "These fairs are real damp quids, and just seems amazing that people are daft enough to pay so much to stay at the hotel they now got, when the Government used to pay us to stay as guests of Her Majesty!" Wonder if the new hotel guests are expected to sew mailbags?
Apparently, CarfaxCabby, some tourists used to think The Oxford Story was actually part of the living, breathing University of Oxford - though for that, they should have visited Hertford college during the 1960s and '70s! As for the Oxford Castle Experience, according to one of the Prison's former inmates I met at one of the first fairs at the newly re-opened site "These fairs are real damp quids, and just seems amazing that people are daft enough to pay so much to stay at the hotel they now got, when the Government used to pay us to stay as guests of Her Majesty!" Wonder if the new hotel guests are expected to sew mailbags? Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

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