Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Church Farmhouse Museum - The national treasure that the Barnet Conservatives Trashed

Of all the sickening acts performed in the name of austerity and cuts by the Barnet Conservatives, to me the saddest was the trashing of the beautiful Church Farmhouse Museum, now lying abandoned, unloved and unwanted. This museum is the oldest building in Hendon and for many years was a centre of civic pride in Hendon. Exhibitions detailing the local history of Hendon, the London Borough of Barnet and London were regularly held. Children from all over the Borough came to learn of the history of their hometown. Some of the exhibitions were iconic. The last one was the exhibition of London Underground memorablia in honour of Frank Beck, designer of the Iconic Underground map. The Tories made the decision to close the museum shortly after getting re-elected in 2010 and the museum closed its doors for the last time in 2011. I went up on the final day for a tour. I recorded this video with Gerard Roots, the curator. I wanted to preserve forever a little piece of what I consider to be priceless, but our Tory Council consider to be of no value at all.

Now I am no Francis Ford Coppola, but of all the video's I've made on my little home camera, this is the one I'm most proud of. It captures something which is gone forever. Even if by some miracle, the Tories are kicked out and Labour reopen the museum, the collection was flogged off soon after in a firesale auction.

This morning I was quite disturbed to read this email, forwarded to me. It had been sent to the Barnet Council officer responsible for property and maintenance.

Dear Suzanna

You will be concerned to learn that, overnight, someone has dug up and stolen nine or ten of the big Yorkstone paving flags from the paths around the front and the east end of Church Farm. I don't know whether the Ad Hoc 'Guardians' have reported the theft to the police.


Gerrard Roots

Mr Roots, the retired caretaker, steeped in a tradition of public service was clearly uspet. Next I received a press release from Labour GLA rep Andrew Dismore.
Mr Dismore said 
“This is the inevitable consequence of the Conservative Council’s closure of the museum, and after over 3 years, their inability to find someone to take it on. Their so-called negotiations with Middlesex University are going nowhere, as it is clear they are not really interested in taking over this historic listed building because  its uses are so limited. An empty unused building like this is an open invitation  for thieves. The Council has been and is spending thousands on security at the former Museum, for little  good it does;  and Boris Johnson’s cuts in the police service haven’t helped either.The Council should be ashamed of themselves. they will have to replace the missing flags at no doubt considerable expense to the council taxpayers of Barnet, but it is difficult to see  how new stones will be able to replicate the appearance of the stolen old ones. Conservative Barnet could not care less about our Borough’s history and historic buildings”.
The Hendon Times have also covered the story
When it comes down to it, do we care about our history, our traditions, our heritage. Church Farmhouse museum is a listed building and was a Jewel in the crown of the London Borough of Barnet. 
The Link below shows just how much Londoners valued this gem of a museum
Please do me a little favour if you value the efforts I put into my blog. Watch the video and then tell all your neighbours, family and friends what the Barnet Conservatives did to the Borough to save a pittance. You may say that times are tight and sacrfices have to be made. Well ask yourself this. If this was true, how come the Barnet Conservatives were awarding themselves huge raises in allowances at the same time as approving the closure. Councillor Robert Rams, who made the decision and his cabinet colleagues awarded themselves huge rises. This money would easily have funded the museum, had they not been so snouts in the trough. 
Barnet Tories often say "What vital service would you cut to have saved the museum/" My answer is that I don't consider giving Tory Councillors a payrise to be a vital service. I don't consider the army of consultants who the Tories have engaged to privatise the Borough to be a priority either. 
Much as I despise the grotesque act of the thieves who stole the paving stones, they are not the real vandals. Those are the people who shut the museum, flogged the collection and let the building fall into rack and ruin. 
On Thursday you make a choice at the polls. As I am sure you can imagine, I've made mine. 


Rog T said...


I remember when you used to think MP's should play by the rules. I suppose the fact most MP's took the piss out of expenses rules made that OK as well

Lindsay said...

Oh Rog, a wee mistake there! It was Harry Beck not Frank who designed the Tube Map.