Can Fans Save the Museum of Science Fiction?

People who live in the village of Allendale in Northumberland have recently rallied around Neil Cole and his Museum of Classic Sci-fi as their local county council is threatening to close the whole project down. This is due to a shed which houses a Dalek built by Cole and his art students, which they claim doesn’t have planning permission to be there.

In protest to the council’s threats and plans, the town has begun a campaign by putting their own, home-made Daleks up around the town, outside their homes and businesses in support of Neil Cole’s plight. Neil Cole said:

“The community has been incredible. The story has touched the hearts of many sci-fi fans and people beyond.”

Opened in October of last year, the grand-opening was attended by John Levene, who played Benton (and a Yeti) alongside Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, and Tom Baker. He was astonished by the collection as were all the visitors to the event on that day and everyday since then. I was very impressed by the restoration work Mr Cole has performed on all of the original props.

In fact, the DWC’s own Bar Nash-Williams (who has taken to calling the town “AllendaleK”) attended the opening day too, and concluded:

“Yes, forget the wrangles over the latest incarnation [of the Doctor] – there is something about spending the day with a load of Who fans, happy and honoured to be there, that helps make life worth living.”

Speaking to the news in January, Neil’s wife, Lisa, commented on how much good the museum has done for the small community:

“It has brought more than 900 people into the village. And the Dalek prop makes people smile as they drive up the road.”

But the Dalek prop in question can’t be stored inside alongside the other exhibits including items from Blake’s 7 and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, probably because of spacing issues. Lisa said that if the museum had to move the Dalek then the whole project might end up in jeopardy.

Northumberland County Council are having none of it though, saying that they have written to the Coles telling them they need to apply for planning permission for their shed but due to the age of the building it is unlikely to supported.

The Coles are right to be confused by this and the town to is right to support them. The shed is in way attached to the building and when the museum is closed, then so is the shed in question. It doesn’t obscure views or cause the locals any form of problems.

For a project that has brought in lots of people and profits for the business and the other local shops, the museum has been a great benefit to all involved. The council seem to be standing firm and for now the future of the museum seems to be a little up-in-the-air. But the whole town has rallied around them in support, even going so far as to changing the name of the town to Allendalek. Lets all hope that the County Council sort themselves out and understand there is more important business to be sorted out in the country than a fantastic Dalek prop.

The Museum of Science Fiction is open now.

(Featured photo by Bar Nash-Williams.)