The Isle of Wight Steam Railway has been recognised by Arts Council England as one of the UK’s leading museum experiences. The heritage railway operation has been awarded Full Accreditation status – from Wootton to Smallbrook Junction, including the headquarters at Havenstreet.
“This national award raises our profile and prestige within the heritage railway sector, as well as being an enormous achievement for the whole Island,” commented IWSR Chairman Peter Conway. “The Railway’s Board of Trustees acknowledge with grateful thanks, the enormous amount of work which has been undertaken by our team to achieve this status. In particular our Museum and Archive team that lead on our application.
Arts Council England scrutinises every aspect of how the collections are cared for as well as the visitor journey. It also looks at the museum management, the services offered and all must meet a set of standards designed to measure the quality of museums across the UK. The Railway now joins a small number of other accredited museums on the Isle of Wight such as Dimbola, Brading Roman Villa and Carisbrooke Castle Museum.
Museum curator at the Railway, Roger Macdonald commented: “The whole application process has taken three years, presenting many challenges and learning points for the team along the way. We are absolutely thrilled to be rewarded with this positive outcome.” The museum team comprises of 17 enthusiastic volunteers and is custodian to a wide variety of artefacts including uniforms, signage and other railway items. It also has a large archive and photographic collection.
Peter Vail, General Manager, IWSR said: “This award is of real significance and it is a great credit to all those involved from within our ranks and our external mentor, Gary Wragg a museum specialist from Winchester. Accreditation will enable the Railway to apply for further grants and awards and our new status will enable us to display exhibits on loan from other museums in the UK.”
In the awarding statement, which was officially received on 29th November 2018 and is valid for five years, Arts Council England stated “The panel recognised the hard work that had gone into the application and were pleased to hear how the organisation has developed a good museum practice.” The accreditation was recognised at a special ceremony held in Winchester on 6th February 2019.