Jurby Transport Museum crisis grows as exhibits removed

HAPPIER TIMES: Richard Davis with some of the vintage buses at the museum. PHOTO: Mike Wade MW110919 (29).

HAPPIER TIMES: Richard Davis with some of the vintage buses at the museum. PHOTO: Mike Wade MW110919 (29).

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A NUMBER of exhibits have been pulled from the Jurby Transport Museum in protest at the ousting of the chairman from the board.

And volunteers have expressed fears about the future of the attraction – amid claims there has been a witch hunt against museum founder Richard Davis.

A meeting of the Friends of the museum is being held tonight (Tuesday) at the Columba Club in Douglas to discuss the crisis.

Tony Wilson had been a volunteer at the attraction for two and half years, often going in twice or even three times a week – but no longer. He said: ‘Everyone is upset and wound up.

‘Some buses have gone out and a lot of artefacts and displays have been removed. I’ve removed the stock from my shop which sold books, models and souvenirs.

‘It’s been a witch hunt against Richard and they’ve alienated the volunteers. We fear the museum will just fade away because there will be nobody left to run it.’

Mr Davis was removed as chairman and from the board following an extraordinary meeting of the Manx Transport Trust earlier this month.

The dispute apparently focused on the sale of an ex-Bus Vannin double decker personally owned by retired police officer Mr Davis for use on open-top sightseeing tours.

Director Barry Edwards said that while the chairman had done nothing wrong, his actions ‘had caused embarrassment’ to the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure - although this was denied by the department which has also refuted suggestions the attraction’s lease could have been at risk.

Mr Wilson, however, believes the issue over the sale of the bus is a red herring. He believes the four directors who voted for Mr Davis’s removal have another agenda – but is mystified as to what that could be.

Mr Wilson said the aim of tonight’s meeting, which starts at 8pm, was to ‘clear the air and lay a few rumours to rest’.

He says the only way forward for the museum is for the current board to resign and for the Trust to have a new constitution giving the whole membership voting rights.

‘Every democratic organisation is voted in by its members. Jurby museum had been successful for two and a half years with 32,000 visitors to a tourism attraction in what was a neglected part of the island. The only way forward is for these four to resign. We need to return to how it was with Richard as chairman and a new committee with him,’ he said.

But Mr Davis said: ‘I support the proposal for members at Jurby Transport Museum to have voting rights so that they can choose the directors.

‘However, recent events instigated by others, have forced me to step aside from the museum and, in a letter from director Roger Carey, I have been required to give up my keys to the building and been told that I no longer have the right to use the museum’s trade plates to move my vehicles.

‘Not surprisingly, my view of the transport museum and its management is such that I will not offer myself for election to the board, assuming elections do take place.’

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