Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Jersey Heritage Trust – Chairman’s Report 2016

This was buried in a set of accounts, but I think deserves a separate and much wider audience.

The Jersey Heritage Trust – Chairman’s Report 2016
by Professor Ed Sallis, OBE

Jersey Heritage has had a good year both financially and in terms of visitor numbers. Increasing tourism numbers benefit us as we manage some of the Island's important and most visited places.

We mounted a successful Ice Age Island exhibition at the Jersey Museum, which showcased some of the important archaeological work we commissioned from the British Museum and University College London at Les Varines and La Cotte de St Brelade.

We engaged a large number of volunteers to produce the 13th Tapestry as our contribution to the 70th anniversary of the Liberation and the Celtic Coin Hoard has continued to be a hit with visitors and locals alike.

We built a special laboratory at La Hougue Bie so that the public could see work on the hoard in progress. At the end of the year, the cleaning and preservation work of some 75,000 coins and the unexpected finds of gold jewellery were completed, although there is still much interpretation work to be done.

In 2016, we signed a three-year service level agreement with the Department of Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture. In return for grants from the States we undertake a wide range of curatorial, research, educational and building maintenance projects to preserve the historic buildings and collections in our care. The funding allowed us to mount new exhibitions, carry out work in the community and financially support the work of our partner the Société Jersiaise.

Additionally it allowed us to carry out projects such as the work that is in train at La Hougue Bie to improve the visitor experience and to develop the facilities at Hamptonne. Extensive works were completed to the First Gate at Elizabeth Castle and at the Maritime Museum. The refurbishment of La Rocco Tower as self-catering accommodation was also completed.

In last year's report, I wrote about the Board's ambition to see capital funding secured to refurbish Elizabeth Castle with a view to preserving its fabric and improving the visitor experience.

The Castle is an iconic monument and is one of the most visited historic sites in the Island. Yet while it receives excellent ratings from visitors, parts of the Castle are closed or have limited access because of their state of disrepair. It is often not understood that rather than being a single building, the Castle is actually a village of over thirty separate buildings with tremendous potential to tell the story of the Island and to benefit the community in a variety of ways.

The Trust has carried out extensive work to ensure that as far as possible the Castle fabric is safe, but it needs an extensive capital programme to conserve, preserve and interpret its buildings. We have worked with the Assistant Minister for Culture and he has established a political group to further understand the Castle and its requirements. The challenge is to make Elizabeth Castle the showpiece of Jersey's rich and varied heritage.

Jersey Heritage continues to play an important role in the community. We have a membership of over 11,000 and work closely with the Education Department to encourage visits by school parties to our sites.

Our dedicated full-time staff and team of over 240 volunteers work hard to produce a wide range of activities for the public. We do this in an efficient and effective manner, and we would probably require our States grant to be doubled if we had to replace the volunteers with salaried staff.

Not many other independent organisations that receive States funding can make these cost efficiency claims, but we are not complacent and we are working hard to diversify our income streams and have established an Enterprise Committee to spearhead this work.

One early example of this work is the partnership we have signed with to put much of the extensive family history records stored at the Archives online and accessible to both an Island and a worldwide audience. We have also signed an agreement with the Jersey Evening Post to archive and conserve their unique and extensive photographic collection and to make it available to the public.

Jersey Heritage does amazing and important work and it makes a vital contribution to our Island community. It is only with the dedication, enthusiasm and expertise of the staff, trustees and volunteers that this is possible. It is they who make Jersey Heritage such a special organisation.

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