New community garden for historic Leiston museum

By Nick Osbourne | Published on 28 May 2024 | 4 min read

Leiston’s historic Long Shop Museum has a new community garden, thanks to funding from Sizewell C and the hands-on help of volunteers from Sizewell B power station.

Founded in 1984, The Long Shop Museum celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – and the museum plays an essential role in explaining Leiston’s industrial character. A focal point for cultural and heritage activities, the museum attracts around 10,000 visitors annually, and the new community garden will help enhance the visitor experience once it reopens again next month.

Following funding from Sizewell C, alongside Essex and Suffolk National Landscapes, Sizewell B’s Helping Hands arrived at the museum last week to assist in creating the community garden, which now features a new wildlife pond, bug hotels and bird boxes, art installations, a new wildflower meadow area, mature, native pollinator-friendly plants, and enhancements to the children’s play area, including a new ‘drawing wall’.

Russ Rainger, Long Shop Museum Trustee, said: “We’re grateful to Sizewell C and the Sizewell B Helping Hands team for stepping in to assist us, battling through some tough weather to help shape our community garden.

“Building work has delayed our opening in this, our 40th anniversary year as a museum, but the help we’ve had to create a safe, sensory and interactive garden space has been a real boost and brings us closer to being ready to welcome visitors again. It will certainly enhance the museum’s overall experience for visitors. We’re looking forward to seeing people enjoy it once the museum reopens in June.”

Housed in a cluster of historic buildings in the centre of Leiston, the museum buildings are survivors of the original 19th century works site of Richard Garrett and Sons, who were world-famous manufacturers of steam engines and agricultural machinery. The museum’s unique collection features items related to farming machinery, steam traction, tools, and commercial and domestic products produced by the works during its 200-year history.

Niki Rousseau, Sizewell B Community Relations Manager, and one of the Sizewell B Helping Hands, said: “It’s been a fantastic experience seeing the new garden come to life here. The water feature adds a feeling of tranquillity to the space, the planting brings bursts of colour, and the bug hotel can support the Long Shop’s biodiversity targets. It’s wonderful to be part of an initiative that really enriches our local heritage and brings the community even closer together. Best wishes for the museum’s reopening in June!”

Leiston is only a few miles from Sizewell B and the new Sizewell C power station, which is under construction now. The town is host to the Sizewell C Information Office, which offers local residents the opportunity to pop in and find out about the progress of the new nuclear power station. Sizewell C has allocated £250m in local funding, including £12m to support local tourism and a £23m pot for community projects.

Marjorie Barnes, Head of Regional Affairs and Development at Sizewell C, said: “Leiston is our host community, and The Long Shop is such an important part of the town’s history and heritage. It’s exactly the kind of project that we’re so keen to support at Sizewell C, and we’re delighted to help enhance the experience they offer for the community and for tourism in the area.”

The Long Shop Museum – which reopens on Tuesday 4 June 2024 – has recently published a book called “A Day Out in Leiston”. This guided walk explores the hidden historical gems of the town, highlighting the history and meaning behind various buildings and landmarks. You can explore Leiston through this self-guided tour.

Tagged with: The Long Shop Museum
Posted by Nick Osbourne

Nick is Sizewell C's Media Relations Manager