15 October 2010
The Bakelite Museum in Somerset has six months to implement new fire regulations or may face closure. ...
One of the UK’s most unusual specialist museums faces potential closure due to fire regulations.
The Bakelite Museum in Williton, Somerset, houses more than 20,000 objects highlighting the various uses of the versatile plastic material. It was invented in 1907 by Leo Baekeland and was used for items from the cradle to the grave, from toys to coffins! You can find examples of these plus radios, a car, bike, vintage caravans and much more, over three floors of the museum which is housed in an 18th century mill at Williton. The museum is run by Patrick Cook and represents many years of personal collecting.
However, following a recent visit by the fire officer, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has handed Mr Cook a list of recommendations as laid out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This includes the provision of a second internal stairway, an external stairway and the suggestion that someone should be present on each floor. An existing upper level exit, which takes visitors to adjacent buildings through a hatch, may not be adequate because of people’s bulging waistlines!
The cost of making the necessary changes has been estimated at £30,000 and would have to be carried out within six months. The Bakelite Museum closes its 2010 season at the end of October and Mr Cook is reportedly considering the options.
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