Heritage exhibition saved after rain pours in roof

A PHOTOGRAPHIC exhibition which is one of the star attractions of Wisbech Heritage Weekend has been saved after rain poured into one of the town’s historic buildings.

The roof of Wisbech Institute in Hill Street has had to undergo major repairs after it looked as if it was going to collapse during heavy rain.

A display of prints from the Lilian Ream Collection giving a valuable insight into life and buildings in the town, had to be rescued and taken to a safe place.

John Smith of the Institute said: “What were minor leaks became major torrents. It was quite literally all hands to the pump.”

Supporters of The Institute, once the most financially successful workingmen’s club in the country, are keen to see it restored to its former glory. In 1898 the Institute had 1,136 members and its facilities included a gymnasium.

Two men from the Future Jobs Fund, a scheme to help young people back into work, have been recruited to work on the restoration programme.

Mr Smith said: “The building guys had to be diverted to addressing these urgent problems. There were doubts as to whether the exhibition could go ahead but I am happy to say that the work is well in hand, the two men came in on Saturday morning in their own time and with help have made real progress. The exhibition has been saved.”

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Photographer and Leader of Wisbech Town Council, Councillor David Oliver, and his family, stepped in to save and move the prints, and businessman Ray Wicks helped with the roof repairs.

This weekend’s exhibition from the Lilian Ream Collection will feature many new prints. Artefacts of the Institute will also be on display and there will be tours of the building.

The building will be open on Friday from 2-5pm, on Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

The Institute is just one of many buildings open to the public over the weekend. They include the Masonic Lodge, the council chamber, Wisbech General Cemetery, Wisbech Grammar School, Friends Meeting House, and the Angles Theatre.