From Chick Anthony, president.
THE Société Jersiaise has welcomed the support you have given to Jersey Heritage in its efforts to obtain extra funding for Hamptonne Country Life Museum.
The Société has a particular interest in maintaining this example of the Island’s heritage because it allocated a bequest of £1.6 million at the time of its establishment and is now obviously the most appropriate home for the Société’s comprehensive collection of agricultural machinery and equipment.
The buildings therefore represent a considerable investment in money, effort and material that would be wasted if the enterprise had to be either mothballed or even permanently closed.
While Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth Castle are understandably major features that attract visitors to the Island, it is clear that Hamptonne, together with the Maritime Museum and the Occupation Tapestry, reflecting as they do the life-styles of Islanders in the more recent past, are of significant interest not only to visitors to the Island but to today’s residents.
It has been noted that Jersey residents form the substantial core of total numbers visiting these sites, often making repeated visits themselves as well as accompanying visiting friends and relations to whom they have recommended the sites.
There are long-term plans to invest further in the complex and to extend the facilities but it has been difficult to make improvements when, as with other heritage sites, no financial provision exists even for maintenance; Hamptonne has to earn both its day-to-day keep and its continuing existence.
If examples of Jersey’s history are allowed to slowly disappear, they can literally never be replaced. No-one will ever find the money to recreate such buildings and, even were this to be possible, authenticity cannot be created – once lost, it is gone forever.
The Société urges States Members, when considering the vulnerability of Jersey’s heritage to attrition in 2009 and beyond, to show the same concern for the future as they have done in allocating funds to Jersey Heritage to allow it to keep all its historic sites open until the end of this year. ‘Laissez faire’ is not an option: heritage has no magic preservative.