There are fears today that the future of Eastleigh’s past could be under threat.
Eastleigh News has learnt that the Eastleigh and District Local Historical Society could be wound up tonight, as membership has shrunk to only one member – at the same time local Area Committee members have recently expressed fears that a proposed new Hampshire-wide trust, designed to manage cultural and arts provision throughout the county could downgrade or even close the town’s much loved museum.
Speaking at the AGM of Chandler’s Ford Parish Council last month, Eastleigh History Society’s last remaining active member Barry Cinchen warned that the society – founded in 1974 – was in danger of dying out. In last six months only two members had attended meetings.
For some time Mr Cinchen has been working largely singlehanded researching an recording Eastleigh’s history, arranging small exhibitions in shop windows and in the Library and answering queries and requests for information on the town from the descendents of Eastleigh townsfolk who emigrated.
In addition Mr Chinchen has self-published many interesting monographs on aspects of the Borough’s heritage – the latest being booklets on the history of the Velmore and Hiltingbury camps.
Mr Chinchen explained that finance for the society wasn’t a problem. It had charitable status, was solvent and would easily qualify for all sorts of funding. The problem was a lack of active members.
He expressed a hope that a thriving society could be pro-active in the community by, for example, giving talks on Eastleigh’s heritage to local schools or by organising history walks.
There is an public open meeting tonight , June 6, at the Civic Offices to decide the future of the society and potential members and supporters and other interested parties are invited attend.
The Meeting starts at 7.30 and Mr Chinchen hopes that one of the founding members – Stan Roberts – will be attending.
The Society is also a custodian of many important artefacts, documents, and photographs of local interest and there are fears that these would be moved away from Eastleigh should the society fold.
At last month’s meeting of Eastleigh Local Area Committee, Councillors expressed similar concerns regarding the future of exhibits in Eastleigh Museum as they considered the latest minutes of Eastleigh Museum Joint Management Committee regarding proposed changes to the way Arts and Museum services are delivered across Hampshire.
Eastleigh Museum is currently partly funded by ELAC and run by ‘One Community’ staff and volunteers but under proposals forwarded by Hampshire County Council – in conjunction with Southampton and Winchester City Councils – museum services in the County would transfer to a charitable trust by 2015.
Cllr Peter Wall said he was worried that ELAC would have little say how their money was spent or the way the museum was run, and he was ‘suspicious’ that the Museum could be downgraded or even closed and sold off in future cost-cutting.
Cllr Chris Thomas added that he had ‘serious concerns’ that exhibits which were pertinent to the town could “disappear into a warehouse if the (County) Council decided to pull the plug”.
Deputy Chair Cllr Steve Sollitt said the committee would endeavour to discover the current status of the proposals as the minutes under discussion were dated October 2012.