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Custom House will reopen to the public 'when safe to do so'

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Plans to reopen the Custom Hous e to the public have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tourist information centre is currently housed in the Stories of Lynn museum while the Custom House was closed for refurbishment.

West Norfolk Council deputy leader and portfolio holder for culture, heritage and health Elizabeth Nockolds said plans have been in place to reopen the historic building from Easter onwards.

The Custom House
The Custom House

But the fact the building has the same door for one entrance and exit means it is deemed unsafe to reopen during the pandemic period.

Labour councillor Francis Bone told this afternoon's full council meeting: "The Custom House is obviously one of our most significant historic buildings and the iconic building of King's Lynn.

"You said there were plans to put forward a museum or some interest to get the Custom House reopened, now I appreciate there is a pandemic, but how far are you getting along with actually getting interested parties to come and cohabit the Custom House so we can open it up for the people of King's Lynn and people visiting the town to enjoy our heritage?"

The Custom House in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt
The Custom House in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

In response, Mrs Nockolds said: "As I have said many times, we have a plan for the Custom House, we have Norfolk Museums service working in partnership with us.

"We are still in the pandemic and we still have restrictions to work with as you are fully aware. The Custom House has only exit and one entrance using the same door so at the moment it is unsafe for anyone to invite visitors to that building.

"We did have many, many plans from Easter onwards but unfortunately in March something happened and all buildings were closed. But we have a plan and as soon as it's safe to do so, we will open it."

A spokeswoman for West Norfolk Council said: "There were plans in place to work in conjunction with the Norfolk Museum Services (NMS) for activities within the Custom House from Easter, but the Covid restrictions meant that these could not go ahead as there wouldn’t be safe entry and exit from the building.

"There are future plans to work in partnership with NMS and as soon as restrictions are lifted and the venue can be opened safely, it will be opened."

Chair of the King’s Lynn Civic Society, Alison Gifford, has previously said the Custom House would be ideally suited as a tourist office with a revamped exhibition on the first floor.

Council officials originally said in March 2019 that the Custom House would be shut for four weeks due to repairs. It was then decided to postpone the move the tourist information centre back to the Custom House during the holiday season.

The authority described the move as “routine maintenance work” to be carried out on the ceilings of the 17th-century building.

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