Wisbech's greatest fan Richard Barnwell, auctioneer in and around the town for more than 40 years and popular giver of talks about his vast collection of bygones, has been elected president of Wisbech and Fenland Museum. 

The office, held from 1854 until 1950 by a scarcely interrupted succession of Peckovers, fell out of use in 1962 when the museum became a registered charity.  

It has been revived in Richard Barnwell's honour. 

Since he arrived in the town aged 18 as assistant and pupil to James Crowden of long-established land agents Grounds & Co, Richard has held just about every VIP position the north Cambridgeshire Fens have to offer including, since 2001, chairman of Wisbech Museum's board of trustees. 

As chairman he was involved in welcoming to the Museum Queen Beatrice of Holland in 1989, the Duke of Gloucester in 1991, the Duchess of Gloucester in 2000, the Duke of Gloucester again in 2007, the Queen Consort, as she now is, in 2018 and Princess Eugenie in 2021. 

Richard's most recent Chairman's Exhibition at the Museum in November 2019 featured quirky items like the wooden feather-sorting fork from Horace Friend's feather and fur warehouse on Nene Quay, Wisbech (now a block of riverside flats with the historic name preserved on the wall). 

Other delights included an 1890s bottle of Great Restorer tonic prepared only by Major Hill the Cash Chemist, Wisbech; the brass launcher of the flares fired to call Wisbech Fire Brigade to fight a blaze in the 1920s and a wooden sausage roll template from a former butcher's shop in Norfolk Street. 

Nominating Richard as president, fellow trustee and Museum finance director David Ball said: “His knowledge of matters pertinent to the Museum dwarfs the collective knowledge of those of us who have joined since 2015.  

“His affection for the Museum is transparent from the briefest of conversation.  

“I have no doubt that not only is it high time that the office of president was occupied but that there can be no one better suited to the task.”