If you are interested in vegetable tanning and items made from vegetable tanned leather, you need to be aware of what is happening in Walsall. Walsall is a long standing centre for the manufacture of saddles and it is home to one of the few of the world’s leather museums.
As a result of a sudden and unexpected reversal of policy the local authorities want to withdraw support from the town’s libraries and museums and the options they are suggesting for the museum look like either straight closure or “death by a thousand cuts”.
The museum deals a lot with saddles and saddlery but also with leather goods and luggage which were – and still are – made locally. There are many other artefacts all effectively displayed in this prizewinning museum with great hands on opportunities for young visitors. School parties are a major feature amongst visitors.
Currently there are 3,000 visitors to the museum per year, which gets high ratings on Tripadvisor and won the Sandford Award for Heritage Education, the most prestigious award in its field.
We are told that closing the Museum will save £150,000 a year, and there are three options which Walsall Council is currently consulting on for 2017/18. This public consultation is explained here.
An on-line petition to save the leather museum has also been launched and since being started over two thousand people have signed it. Every comment made is automatically emailed to the Chief Executive of Walsall Council.
The Museum has been run for many years by Mike Glasson, who has done a great job. From what we understand there a number of alternate plans which could be made to work even before additional funding routes are considered.
The options in the consultation are not workable and if you think of the importance of the museum as historical record, a design resource, or a way of getting youth to recognise the importance of leather as a material then we urge you to sign the petition or send a note to the consultation or both.
And of course if you live in the UK and are able you could make a visit. The details are here: