Evening Echo
February 6, 2004

Purpose-built visitors' centre planned for historic find


  • Buckle
    In safe hands - the king's gold belt buckle

    SOUTHEND will be the final resting place for an Anglo-Saxon king's burial treasure.

    The stunning array of artefacts discovered under Priory Crescent will be showcased in a purpose-built visitors' centre designed to attract people from across the world.

    Southend Council leader Howard Briggs said: "It is ours, and we are going to keep it. First, it is going to be looked after and cared for until we have found a suitable place in which to show it off to the world.

    "We don't yet know where we are going to put it. I don't think the Central Museum in Victoria Avenue is an entirely suitable place for it, but the museum will still have responsibility for the collection.

    "Given its international importance it will act as a major tourist attraction which will receive a considerable number of visitors, and we want to show it off to its best effect."

    Liz Barham
    LIZ BARHAM, from Leigh, is playing a key role in the preservation of the artefacts discovered at the Prittlewell burial site.
    The 35-year-old former Southend High schoolgirl now lives in London and works for the Museum of London.
    She said: "It's a really exciitng project to be involved in because of the importance of the find, but what's really great about it is that I'm a local."

    Picture: JAMES REINL

    The showcase centre will not burden the pockets of the tax payer or cash strapped council as officers will request heritage funding from the National Lottery.

    George Krawiec, chief executive and town clerk, said the find will bost Southend's claim to be the jewel in the crown of the Thames Gateway.

    He said: "This find will significantly change the external view of Southend.

    "The town has an extensive historical background very few people know about, both those who live here and those who don't.

    "The king will cement our claim to being the cultural centre of the whole of the Thames Gateway."

    The Museum of London explained many of the pieces had not yet been revealed to public view as conservation work on the artefacts was still required.

    The extensive refurbishment process will take several months, a spokeswoman confirmed, but the find was earmarked to return to Southend.

    She said: "After the exhibitions at the museums of London and Southend the objects will go into conservation.

    "After that, we are hoping they will go to Southend, but the final decision has yet to be made."

    People will be able to see a selection of the objects at the Museum of London from today, and the exhibition will visit Southend Central Museum from Saturday, February 21, to Sunday, March 21.

    Back to News Page
    Back to Home Page