Vision for Sandfields
Sandfields in its current state offers very little in terms of development potential. In the current planning application there is only provision for a maximum 15 car parking spaces. The site is on the outskirts of the city, and while there is a potential to tie this site in with he possibility of restoring the Hatherton Canal, the realisation of this is a long term prospect. Therefore to develop this site as a museum, funding would have to be made available.
Museums have cost structures that differ significantly from other firms in the service industry. Museums in general operate with relatively high fixed costs; buildings, maintenance, insurance, lighting and heating etc and therefore cannot be changes in the short run. The operational costs of museums make them completely dependent on outputs, and with their variable costs constituting a low proportion of the total costs, along with the fact that a museums marginal costs are close to zero, even when setting up a specialised exhibitions etc, its operating costs will be independent of footfall. What we can conclude from this, is that this scheme will need financial support not only to enable it, but as an ongoing endeavour.
Options for Sandfields Pumping Station
1. If the existing foot print of the site has to remain as detailed in Job no AAA4729 drawing No 05, then Sandfields could be operated as a fully funded operation supporting a group of volunteers who would undertake the day to day maintenance of the building and contents with visitor open days at agreed times. All fixed costs and some variable costs would have to be funded.
2. The building and engine are offered to the Black Country Museum, who could carefully deconstruct it, remove it from site and rebuild it at their site in Dudley.
3. An initially funded enabling finance to support a long term plan to form a trust as an ongoing endeavour. The main goals of a trust developing a museum at the Sandfields site would be to restore and maintain the Grade 1 & 2 Listed buildings, the engines, the site and collections of artefacts, in order to preserve and interpret a unique part of Lichfield’s and Staffordshire’s industrial heritage for the enjoyment, appreciation and education of a wide public.
The trust should aim to achieve Registered Museum status, and it should strategically manage and conserve the collections and any archives according to recognised standards. It should also seek to maximize the educational and outreach potential of the site for a wide range of learners, educational institutions, historical societies and visitors.
It should aim to upgrade the exhibitions and displays to explore themes that are both relevant and accessible to a wide range of audiences so that Sandfields eventually became a popular and high profile heritage attraction.
It should integrate this with the heritage attractions of the area like the Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust, Lichfield Heritage Centre and the Darwin Trail and aim to provide a valuable resource and potentially a facility for the local community. The trust should seek to secure the growth and development of the Trust’s membership and volunteer body to develop the role of Sandfields in training for both future volunteers and for the local community. Alongside a continuing and central role for the volunteers, a board of Directors should aim to secure a sustainable business model for its operations.
In 3 to 5 years Sandfields should aim to be a vibrant and compelling heritage attraction that forms a key part of the tourism and heritage offer of Lichfield. The magnificent Grade 1 listed buildings should be fully restored and subject to an ongoing programme of care and maintenance, and the Trust should complete the restoration of the Cornish beam engine to be preserved and run on steam at selected times throughout the year.
Sandfields would celebrate a triumph of Victorian architecture and engineering, the remarkable achievement of John Snow, John McClean, Richard C. Chawner, Richard Dyott, Charles Forster, Richard Greene, Richard Jesson, E.B. Dimmack, S.H. Blackwell, James Solly, Thomas Walker and Sampson Lloyd.
With the help of the building itself, the great beam engine and a unique collection of artefacts, it would tell the story of clean water and how water bought about social changes to the industrialise areas of Staffordshire and the Black Country. These changes underpin the growth of the industrial revolution, the development of modern technology, welfare, housing and education.
Exhibitions would be able to explore the fascinating social history of Lichfield and a range of themes including steam engineering, public health, sanitation and hygiene, pollution, the environment and science. The exhibitions would comprise high quality displays and make use of a range of interpretative techniques addressing the needs of different audiences. A wealth of educational resources and activities, addressing both the demands of the National Curriculum and the needs of life-long learners, would include teachers’, pupils’ and family learning packs, educational events and outreach programmes.
The large space that currently housed the modern switch gear complex would have new uses, and could be put to used both generating revenue for the trust, and providing a service to the public. A new suspended floor inserted would allow it to be used as an exciting space for the visual arts, an educational venue and for corporate or local society hospitality. The ground floor could provide a reception area, refreshments, toilet and washing facilities
The requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act would be met in providing appropriate access for all visitors to the site. An effective access policy would ensure all forms of access are addressed (including physical, sensory, intellectual, cultural and financial) and where the nature of the historic building constrains access to certain areas, ‘reasonable adjustments’ would be adopted (i.e. alternative forms of interpretation).
Sandfields would have full Registered Museum status with policies for collection management, acquisitions and disposals, interpretation and education. The Trust’s collections and archives would be fully documented and information will be available to scholars and to researchers both on site and online.
Sandfields would also have an important training role. Working with local educational establishments, training organisations and accreditation bodies, it could deliver a range of training programmes, serving both the needs of the Trust to transfer and retain knowledge and expertise in steam, and the needs of a local community seeking to develop skills.
The trust would aim to be open to the public at least 2 days a week all year and visitor facilities would be of a standard appropriate to an important visitor attraction.
Sandfields would be actively promoted as part of the developing tourism destination in Lichfield and Staffordshire area, working in partnership with regional and sub-regional tourism and heritage bodies. It would publish marketing materials and informational literature, including a web site, of a high standard and geared to target audiences.
The site would continue to be managed by the Trust and, through active recruitment, its volunteer and membership base would continue to grow and play a central role in the preservation and operation of the site. However to meet its growing responsibilities and deliver its aspirations, the Trust would employ a small executive staff to take care of day-to-day management, education, training and marketing. To fund these activities the trust would be looking for enabling funds from the local authority, grants as well as generating new income streams, including the development of venue hire, admissions income and trading operations, strategic fund-raising activity and possible film work.
How would you like to see this site used, if you have a vision or a view, please leave your ideas or comments in the box below