The museum’s artefacts and the vessels Cervia and Sundowner are owned by a charitable trust – The Preston Steam Trust - that already runs another museum.
For the museum to be able to function, obtain the grants necessary to fund it needs security of tenure for the council owned building that houses, “Ramsgate Clock House,” it and my understanding was that the museum wasn’t to open again until that security of tenure was granted by the council.
So I was very pleased when an Isle of Thanet Gazette reporter interviewed a council spokesperson about this and was told that the council were prepared to grant the museum a 25 year lease, this was published in the Gazette three weeks ago.
I was further pleased to hear that the Little Ship “Sundowner” was being prepared to take part in The Operation Dynamo commemorations see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2010/05/sundowner-gets-ready.html
Anyway wandering around Ramsgate with my camera I noticed that some of the people restoring The Steam Tug Cervia were onboard, so I mentioned to the how pleased I was to see things finally moving forward.
They were surprised at my comments and pointed out that all was not well, this is one of those only in Thanet stories that one would never have the imagination to make up.
What seems to have happened is that the council, not wishing to face embarrassing questions about why the museum was closed and the Sundowner not taking part in the commemorations, have started to engage in some unusual activities.
The most bizarre of which is taking over the Sundowner without the owner’s permission and preparing her for the commemoration voyage to Dunkirk.
They have also advertised that both the museum will be open over the Operation Dynamo weekend and that The Sundowner will be taking part in the voyage.
My understanding is that this is pretty much the last straw for The Preston Steam Trust and that they will pull out unless the council comes up with a reasonable and workable future for the museum.
This is a strange story and one that I have pieced together as best as I can, so any corrections would be appreciated.
Any of you who aren’t aware of the story so far may wish to read my previous posts about it by clicking on the links below.