Museum News

Gateway Project Update

By 18 August 2016January 26th, 2021No Comments

Visitors to the Museum will have noticed our exciting new Gateway Project buildings have risen from the ground. This wonderful new cluster of buildings will provide a welcoming new visitor centre, café, shop and community space from spring 2017.

Building contractors, Pilbeam Construction Ltd, began work in March 2016 and you can see their progress on our live webcam (broadcasting live on weekdays from 9am-5pm). Richard Pailthorpe, Gateway Project Director, has provided this latest update on the progress of the project.

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Installation of Timber

“The last few weeks have seen considerable progress with the construction above ground. The installation of the cross laminated frames to the south cluster have been completed, and the erection of the north cluster is ongoing.

The sight of two huge cranes lifting the framework into place has created a surreal backdrop to the Museum site! It is now a fascinating spectacle, and we are now able to see the actual size and extent of the buildings.

The interpretation galleries will provide three generous spaces for interactive displays, with exhibitions and artefacts planned. Installation of the oak frames to the new shop, reception and catering facilities will be ready by the beginning of September, when tiling and roofing work will commence.”

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Embracing modern methods

“The Museum is of course famous for its collection of historic vernacular buildings. It has never been afraid to embrace modern methods of construction, particularly those using innovative techniques and materials. The Downland Gridshell was a pioneer of modern structure, utilising timber and a range of new techniques.

The Gateway buildings are likewise using modern techniques and a range of traditional and modern materials; from chestnut shakes hand-crafted in a Wealden coppice, to the use of zinc and green oak. Some have asked why the Museum didn’t opt to acquire and use timber-framed farm buildings for this purpose, but this was never a consideration; the integrity of any historic buildings would have been destroyed by putting them to this type of modern use.”

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Sole Street

“Following the re-erection of the Sole Street medieval house timber frame in mid June 2016, the flint plinth was completed at the beginning of August. The flint masons will return at the end of September to finish the brick paviour floor.

Around 60% of the wattle has now been installed and the re-roofing of the building is currently under way. Due to the frame “spreading”, the roof has been strengthened following the advice of a structural engineer – this will be concealed once it is covered with Kentish peg tiles.

The daubing of Sole Street’s wattle panels is planned for early September. A team of volunteers will be involved in this process working alongside Museum staff.”

Fundraising – can you help us with the final push?

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the Museum £4million towards our project. To date, we have secured funding and pledges totalling £1.1million from grant-making trusts and our supporters. We are very grateful for this fantastic show of support but there is still more to do!

If you are able to help us by giving a donation – however large or small – please visit our JustGiving page or download a donation form. Alternatively, if you’d like to be part of the project, simply sponsor a beam (£500), tree (£150), roof tile (£50) or wooden shingles (£20) – find out more here.

Until next time 

We look forward to keeping you up-to-date with the next stages of our Gateway Project, so visit our website regularly and sign up for our monthly newsletter for project updates.