Hollycombe Working Steam Museum is a unique collection of working steam powered attractions providing fun and entertainment as well as an educational experience. As part of the Interpretation, Education and Orientation project Maddisons were commissioned to design and procure new visitor facilities. The project, supported by a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), was to include provision of a new Victorian style railway building at the heart of the site with a strong accent on education and interpretation of Britain’s largest working steam museum.

Client’s Brief
Design and construction of a new museum building including associated external works.

The project was seen as a major starting point for improvements for Hollycombe Working Steam Museum, notably around the interpretation and educational aspects, which form part of the medium term development plan for the Collection.

The principle aims of the project were to:-

  • Provide under one roof improved café, shop, volunteer and educational facilities.

  • Provide a better learning environment for increasingly popular school visits.

  • Create a concourse gallery where the history of steam and its role in our heritage
    can be brought to life for visitors.

  • Provide signs and displays, giving a new approach to illustrating and explaining the
    history and stories behind many items in the collection.

  • Increase indoor seating and provide a greater view onto the nearby railways and
    accommodate for bad weather.

  • Provide a new indoor display gallery, depicting the lives and history of traditional
    travelling fairs, allowing for the creation of an exhibition which will give greater understanding
    of fairground lifestyles.

Strong emphasis was placed on the allocation of funds for the project due to the fixed financial grant from HLF. Pre-tender estimates were prepared in order for an application to be made for a HLF grant. With tender returns a little higher than the budget post tender negotiations had to be undertaken. Detailed cash flow reports were prepared on a monthly basis in line with Client and HLF project requirements.

A model of change control was devised early on to rigorously control contract costs with the contingency being allocated against specific elements identified on the risk register.

In terms of health and safety, the museum building was to be erected whilst the museum remained open to members of the public. Risk assessments and method statements were prepared and agreed in advance of the commencement date with plans reviewed on a regular basis.

The project was successfully completed within budget.

The visitor centre has greatly enhanced the facility and now plays a major part in promoting the museum.
Sustainable materials, high levels of thermal insulation and energy saving fittings were specified throughout. Water saving devices and fittings are fitted within the toilets and energy saving lighting has been installed. Rainwater harvesting has also been employed.

Cedar board cladding, sourced from a local supplier was fitted to the main elevations, which has proved very successful.

Comment’s by Client
Maddisons were appointed on the basis of their local knowledge of the area and their design and refurbishment experience on similar notable public projects.

Maddisons was well known to me, experienced in working for HLF funded projects and offered a competitive fee structure for a full service. The strength of their involvement was a major factor in our success with HLF.
Maddisons successfully administered this complex project to a high standard within the available budget. The project objectives had all been met and the visitor centre provides a much needed facility for the general public and has greatly enhanced the museums standing.