The museum's baithouse exhibit
Making its mark in Filey!
By Fay Yeomans
Filey Museum has been named as Visitor Attraction of the Year for three successive years in the Yorkshire Moors and Coast Tourism Awards. Although it is a small museum, it reflects the seaside town's long history.
Filey Museum before it was saved from demolition
The building that houses Filey Museum was almost demolished in the late 1960s. However, the former farm was reprieved and then renovated by Filey Urban District Council, refurbished by the local Lions group and taken over by the newly formed Local History Society.
In 1971 Filey Folk Museum, as it was originally called, became home to a collection that offers visitors a unique view of the town's fishing, cultural and maritime history. And it is run entirely by volunteers!
Each room of the building has a theme and tries to offer a flavour of one aspect of Filey. There are exhibits featuring the town's lifeboat and its crew, whilst another room has displays of shells and fossils, reflecting the marine environment.
Butlins Holiday Camp display
Costumed mannequins and examples of the famous traditional 'ganseys' give visitors a view of the town's cultural life. The former Butlins Holiday Camp, once the biggest of its kind, is represented with a case full of remarkable souvenirs, books and memorabilia from its heyday.
There is also a comprehensive photo archive, which illustrates Filey's growth as a tourist resort and chronicles the people and places in the town that have now gone forever.
In the 1990s the museum came under threat when Scarborough Borough Council considered selling off the building. However, thanks to Heritage Lottery funding, Filey Town Council bought the building and the money also helped the volunteers to upgrade its displays.
Two of Filey Museum's three tourism awards
A remarkable variation on the traditional 'peppercorn' rent was devised and the museum pays its dues to Filey Town Council each year by handing over a particular fossil! This is then handed back to go on display until the rent falls due again the next year.
As a way of celebrating the Millennium, Filey Lions funded the building of a replica baithouse in the outside area of the museum. It offers a unique insight into the process of skeining mussels or 'flithers' to bait long lines, which were used locally for fishing.
The courtyard also houses a salmon coble called Daybreak. It is a small fishing vessel particular to the East Coast of Yorkshire, which was owned by local fisherman, Jim Haxby, until 1997 when it was presented to the museum.
The latest acquisition - a horse-drawn fire engine
The collection continues to grow and the latest acquisition is a horse-drawn fire engine, which had been languishing for some time in the town's fire station. Earlier this year it was handed over to the museum and now occupies an area of the rear courtyard.
As the museum continues to evolve, its volunteer supporters hope the big success of this small attraction carries on for many years. Who knows, the future might bring more awards to be displayed alongside the three trophies the museum has already won!
last updated: 03/12/2008 at 13:30