Museum grant

I want to express my pleasure on learning that this East Anglain gem has received a very generous grant to help safeguard their future.

This is an excellent investment in one of the country’s most precious local museums.

It helps safeguard a rare collection of treasures which are of interest not only to the local community but to wider society.

Well done and congratulations for this gesture of faith in a much-loved facility.


No to Trident

I agree with Ann Hine (letters, January 29) and the contents of the letter she sent to Fenland MP Steve Barclay about the United Nations recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

MPs voted in 2016 in favour of building submarines for a new nuclear weapons system to replace the current one, Trident. But all the facts stack up against nuclear weapons – and they continue to do so, irrespective of this shameful vote.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has calculated that replacing Trident will end up costing at least £205 billion. This is an appalling waste of money.

Cancelling Trident replacement would mean we could invest billions in the NHS, our education system or new homes.
In terms of national security, nuclear weapons are irrelevant.

The UK government’s own National Security Strategy identifies the real security threats we face today as terrorism, cyber-attacks and the consequences of climate change.

Trident would be useless in dealing with these. Nuclear weapons have no legitimate purpose: their use would be illegal under almost every conceivable circumstance, as huge numbers of civilian casualties would be unavoidable.

Preventing Trident replacement remains an urgent priority. Most people want to see a world without nuclear weapons, and stopping Trident is an essential part of that process.


Assistance with a biography

I am working on a biography of Wilfred Hanchant who was curator of the Wisbech and Fenland Museum from September 1956 until not many years before his death in the Clarkson Hospital in 1978.

The Wisbech Standard* reported his appointment to the position on 14 September 1956, describing him as an “author, broadcaster and an authority on 19th century social history” who “had experience in organising exhibitions and has written a good deal about antiques”.

It also described him as “a bachelor” but made no mention of the fact that he was twice divorced and seemingly a father.

No doubt the people of Wisbech were also unaware that H.E. Bates had described him as “an ex-architect turned embalmer … who literally had a pink beard”.

I doubt they also knew that he had been involved in mounting an exhibition of D.H. Lawrence’s paintings, described in The Daily Telegraph as “so gross and obscene a character” as had “never been seen in London before”, or an exhibition that was raided and closed down by the police.

He was also a friend of the infamous Aleister Crowley, once described by the Sunday newspapers as “the wickedest man in the world”, and whose wife Crowley accused of trying to seduce Hanchant. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of London pubs.

I have the impression that he led a much less exciting and colourful life in Wisbech than he had in London but he mixed in a small, select circle and I have not been able to speak to many people who knew him.

I would be pleased to hear from any readers who had dealings with, or knowledge of, Hanchant, and who can shed light on his personality, habits and interests.

I am told that he frequented some particular public houses and would be interested to know which they were.

Email with information.