The museum was originally established in 1932 and from 1936 was sited in the High Street above the library. It moved to its present William Street site in 1997. The William Street premises is a Georgian building now in a Conservation Area, and William Street was the main shopping street until at least 1883.
It was run for years by the late local historian, Harold Gough, and is funded and administered by Canterbury City Council. The museum was a Canterbury City Council Mystery Shopper Awards 2009 silver award winner. The gallery hosts local art exhibitions, and there is a free events programme.
It is notable for being a seaside tourist attraction featuring local archaeological and social history. It includes fascinating prehistoric remains found locally, the Roman invasion and occupation of East Kent and the history of the town as a popular holiday resort. It’s also known for its local art exhibitions, and for the legendary World War II bouncing bomb.
Following the 2008 “credit crunch” and the resulting pressure on local government funding, Canterbury City Council made moves to close it. The Friends of the Museum formed in 2010 to provide a focus for the town’s support for the Museum, and we won a stay of execution. More recently, however, the Museum’s opening hours were reduced by about 50%, which many thought would inevitably lead to closure.
The Localism Act 2011 provided a mechanism for local communities to run local assets (such as the Museum) on behalf of the local authorities. The Friends and the Herne Bay Historical Records Society have grasped this opportunity with both hands, and started the process of setting up a charitable Trust to run the Museum.
Opening Hours: TBD