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Museum moves from the Belfry to new home

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It is unusual for a shopping centre to play a vital part in preserving part of the nation’s history in people’s minds, but that’s just what the Belfry Shopping Centre in Redhill has been doing since 1997.

The Belfry stepped in 14 years ago to provide a space for the most important and fascinating artefacts from the former Royal Earlswood Hospital in Redhill, which closed that year after 150 years. The hospital was the first of its kind in the country to offer care, education and training to thousands of people with learning disabilities.

Now the Belfry’s Collection has found a new home, it moved on Monday (June 27th) to the UK’s only museum dedicated to the history of learning disability at the Down’s Syndrome Association’s headquarters, near Teddington, Middlesex.

The Belfry Shopping Centre Manager, Andy Nash, says: “We have been very happy to provide a home for these important and unusual exhibits for the past 14 years, giving thousands of local people and visitors from all over the UK, and internationally, the chance to view this fascinating part of British history. We will be sad to lose these unique local artefacts and were proud to be the only Shopping Centre in the UK with its own museum! But we are delighted that such an ideal permanent new home has been found for the entire collection, as only 10% had been displayed here, while hundreds of other items remained in storage”.

“The physical move went smoothly, although some of the larger artefacts had to be carried down the car park entrance ramp, such as the Princess Alexandra Tall Ship. This was more than a little worrying, as it took James Pullen, ‘The Idiot Genius’, 7 years to build it, over 150 years ago!”

“Detail about the museum and its new home will now be mounted in the display area at the Belfry, followed by an exhibition of local community initiatives.”