The Museum is an Arts Council Accredited Museum and a Museum Arts Supporter
It is owned and funded by Newton Abbot Town Council, and has one full-time Curator, with one part-time Administrator, and is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers of all ages.
The Museum was opened in 1990. The museum is a small, but lively, museum with a focus on the Town and Great Western Railway history. St Leonard’s Tower (all that is left of the medieval Chapel in the centre of the town) is also managed by the Museum Curator and is open every Wednesday morning during the summer season.
In 2010 the museum was awarded with The Historical Diving Society’s International Nautiek award, for the museum that had done most to promote diving by creating the John Lethbridge exhibition, which includes a full sized model of the 18th century diver’s ‘diving-engine’, and was filmed by the BBC Inside Out programme in 2009.
In 2011 the Heritage Lottery Fund granted £43,700 towards the ‘Heart of Oak conservation & art project’ to restore a 16th century and later, carved oak overmantle, and to fully engage the public with the project through arts workshops and lectures, and finally to display the conserved overmantle for all to see- this was achieved and the carvings can now be seen in the Sandford Orleigh Gallery.
In 2013 the museum featured on the BBC’s Great Railway Journey’s with Michael Portillo and also featured in the BBC’s Celebrity Antiques Road Trip with Tim Brook-Taylor and Will Axton.
The museum consists of 4 social history galleries, and the Great Western Railway room which has a working signal box and model of IK Brunel’s atmospheric railway. The museum updates an area of the exhibitions each year, so, there is always something new to see!
The Town Council Museum Sub-Committee members are:-
Cllr. C. Bunday
Cllr M. Hocking
Cllr. D. Howe
Cllr. R. Jenks
Cllr. C. Parker
Cllr. K Purchase
Cllr. T Ward