Guildford refreshed town centre museum opens soon


Guildford Museum is looking forward to welcoming visitors back after being closed for the past twelve months for essential repairs providing another free attraction to visit in our historic town centre.

The museum opens with a temporary exhibition ‘Commemoration and Celebration’ to commemorate Guildford’s experience of Victory in Europe Day marking the 75th anniversary since the end of the Second World War throughout Europe. The display celebrates both military and civilian heroes. It will remain on display to also mark Victory in Japan Day in August, the day that Imperial Japan surrendered during World War II and effectively bringing the war to an end.

A number of Second World War objects and photographs with local relevance will be on display including an impressive portrait on loan from our Guildhall of the Queen’s Regiment Parade before the Mayor of Guildford. It was painted from a photograph taken of this event in 1945. Part of the exhibition is available online. 

The museum will initially open with the Commemoration and Celebration exhibition and the Pre history and Roman sections only. Further displays will be reinstalled and open in the autumn.  

The works have included structural repairs, damp proofing, roof repairs, redecoration, a new fire alarm, an upgraded visitor point and toilet and an improved back of house space for preparing exhibitions.

During the Coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak when we stayed at home to protect the NHS and save lives, the Heritage Team kept audiences of all ages engaged and amused with creative and inspiring dedicated social media campaigns including ‘Museum from Home’ campaign and ‘Guess the Object’ videos.  They also began the ‘Collecting for Covid’ initiative where residents were asked to capture and send in their lock down memories, either digital or objects for archiving and to use as a record for future generations of those living in the borough to understand the experiences during this unique time. 

Lead Councillor for the Environment, Cllr James Steel says “The work has completely improved the space giving it a fresh modern feel and we can’t wait to welcome residents and visitors again. We’ve missed you all. With so many of us effectively holidaying at home this year, why not come and visit and continue to share over 1000 years of local history.  Afterwards don’t miss a stroll in our beautiful Castle grounds and maybe a bite to eat, many of restaurants, pubs and bars are open. The safety of our visitors and staff remains a priority and please rest assured all the necessary government Coronavirus (Covid 19) measures are in place throughout the museum. This means your experience will be a little different, just as it is for shopping and eating and drinking out now.’  

He added: ‘Our digital programme and social media campaigns are ongoing and still available to see on our Heritage social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). We are keen to collect our communities’ experience of Covid to go in to our archive; I urge everyone in the borough to please send us in your memories however commonplace including photos, pictures or objects as history isn’t just about the past, it is important we also capture our borough’s present and remember this unprecedented year and the incredible community spirit we all have seen and felt.’

He continued: ‘Many of you will be aware of the Council’s museum redevelopment project where we were considering building a new museum for the town. This was heavily reliant on National Heritage Lottery Funding which was withdrawn for hundreds of ventures across the UK including ours as due to the pandemic they needed to divert money to the Heritage sector. We are reviewing this ambitious project and by the autumn hope to have some exciting news on how we will continue to tell the story of Guildford.

The museum has ambitious plans over the next 5 years including the addition of new collections and the story they tell. You are a part of Guildford’s history and we want you to have the opportunity to have your say on the future of the museum. 

Entry is free, for more on opening times and exhibitions see here:

Guildford Lido 2020 update

Lead Councillor for the Environment, Cllr James Steel provides an update on Guildford Lido: 

‘We are sorry to confirm that although the government now allows outdoor pools to open, we are unable to open Guildford Lido this summer. Please rest assured we haven’t taken this decision lightly. We completely understand how disappointing this news will be and have taken this decision jointly with Freedom Leisure. Working with Freedom Leisure, we have reviewed the possible programme within the government restrictions and Swim England’s safety guidelines and we all felt a programme of pre-bookable one hour lane swimming was not going to meet customer’s expectations for their Lido experience or be sufficient to make the set up and operation of the venue cost effective for the remaining six week season. However lane swimming will be on offer at Guildford Spectrum in the competition pool during August and September. 

Swim England’s guidelines indicate that only lane swimming would be practical with visitors being granted a designated time slot. We know that the Lido is a much loved local attraction where families and groups of friends come to relax and socialise for the whole day using the pool whenever you wanted. Under the new Coronavirus (Covid 19) guidelines, Freedom Leisure would be unable to offer visitors that experience. 

The anticipated additional cost to operate the Lido is estimated to be £38,000 for August and a similar amount for September. This is on top of the annual operating costs. 

Again, I am incredibly sorry to bring you this news and thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. 

King Edward's Witley pupil produces hand sanitiser for over 100 people in local community

King Edward’s Witley pupil Christopher Hooper making hand sanitiser at his home

A Year 9 pupil from King Edward’s Witley is helping to ease the shortage of hand sanitiser in his local community by producing the essential antibacterial cleanser in his back garden.

Christopher Hooper, (aged 13) is from Chichester and usually boards at King Edward’s Witley. He has been making isopropanol (also known as isopropyl alcohol) hand sanitiser to a formula released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) using ingredients kindly funded by his parents. 

To date he has produced and supplied hand sanitiser to protect more than 100 people during lockdown, while still continuing his education via King Edward’s dedicated distance learning programme. The sought-after sanitiser has been given to friends, family, key workers and others in need, including 25 litres to a local care home and further quantities to a local doctor, an orthodontist and even the Chaplain of the University of Chichester. So far Christopher has made and bottled a total of 80 litres of hand sanitiser!

Christopher wanted to help in any way he could with the challenges the local community is facing in terms of the shortage of hand sanitiser. He said, “It is not always possible to wash our hands when we are out of the house buying food or for people who have to go to work like our postman. This sanitiser just evaporates off your hands so can be used anywhere. I wanted to help keep people safe and this was a practical way I could contribute. I enjoyed measuring and mixing the chemicals and giving the bottles away. People seemed very grateful for it and I have had a number of requests for additional supplies.”

Mr Dan Tobias, Housemaster of Edward House (the house to which Christopher belongs) at King Edward’s Witley said, “We are extremely proud of Christopher and full of admiration for his decision to use his spare time so productively, taking such care to deliver a quality end product. His actions will go some way to providing much needed personal protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Christopher’s efforts have attracted media attention including BBC Radio Surrey, who picked up the news on social media before interviewing him live this week. Christopher’s commendable forward thinking will also be recognised by the School, earning him points towards his #KESWCertificate for his contribution to the community.

Collecting COVID memories – be part of history and share your story with Guildford Museum

The global events of the past few months have affected everybody in our community. Lockdown, social distancing and home have become part of our daily lives. Guildford Museum wants to capture your memories of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic to create a record for future generations to understand how and why our lives changed in 2020. 

The Council’s Heritage Services use our historic buildings and collections to connect people with the lived experience of our town and borough. The story we tell is one of place and people evolving through time. It is just as vital to collect the history of Guildford as it is happening, as it is to record the history of Guildford over the past 1,000 years. 

We are collecting both digital (photos and video) and physical objects to reflect the voices and experiences of each of Guildford’s communities. As we move further into recovery we also aim to interview keyworkers including doctors, nurses, care home staff, and supermarket staff, as well as those who have experienced the virus as a patient or who cared for a relative. 

We are looking for stories, photos and videos linked to these themes: 

• home-schooling 
• working from home 
• keeping fit 
• socialising online 
• the view from your window during lockdown 
• new skills and crafts learnt during lockdown. 

In addition, we are interested in how business and the workplace has adapted and how communities have come together to support each other, for example groups that have made PPE for the NHS.

Lead Councillor for Environment, Cllr James Steel says: “Coronavirus (Covid-19) has changed all our lives and it’s incredibly important that we grasp the opportunity to record this unique moment in time. As we start to see lockdown restrictions ease, let’s remember all the new skills we learnt in lockdown, the Zoom video calls with friends and family, our new essential walking and exercise routes and the fantastic community spirit that brought us all together. We would love to hear from you and can’t wait to read your stories and see your pictures.” 

We have already received some amazing digital items for the collection from residents but there is still so much to collect. If you are interested in donating anything to our Heritage Service please contact Collections Manager, Sarah Fairhurst on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Please remember our buildings are currently closed, please do not send anything by post or leave anything at the museum. 

Keep an eye out on social media for further information about this exciting project and how you can donate. Facebook @VisitGuildford Twitter @Gfdheritage Instagram @guildfordsheritageservices. 

Guildford Town Centre car parks remain free in June

All Council-owned car parks in Guildford town centre will remain free of charge throughout June as some shops and businesses start to re-open in line with new government guidance.

We are working in collaboration with our Business Improvement District, Experience Guildford, and town centre partners to reassure residents once businesses begin to re-open from Monday 15 June. We appreciate everybody’s patience and adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Parking charges are expected to return from Wednesday 1 July, but Farnham Road Car Park will remain free to allow us to continue to prioritise parking for key workers. These spaces will be available on a first come first served basis.

The Artington Park and Ride service will continue to operate, with the Merrow service due to recommence from 15 June. Capacity will be increased to meet rises in demand.

Lead Councillor for Parking, Cllr James Steel says:

“We will work with Experience Guildford and our local businesses to ensure that safety is paramount and all government guidelines are followed to give people the confidence to return to our town centre. We have been extremely proud to do everything we can to help our residents and businesses get through the coronavirus pandemic, and as we begin to take the first steps back towards normality we want to maintain that level of commitment. It is essential that we support our key workers in doing their vital work, and I am delighted that we can continue to provide free parking for them.

“Economic recovery is one of the key factors in how the UK emerges from this pandemic and with Guildford being one of the top shopping destinations in the South-East I look forward to the town being at the forefront of that recovery.”

Amanda Masters, Chief Executive of Experience Guildford says:

“We are here to help shoppers as much as possible, whilst at the same time supporting our wonderful local businesses. We are excited to be able to welcome people back to Guildford town centre but recognise that recovery will be a gradual process, and hope that free parking throughout June will encourage more people back. I am, though, confident that we will all soon be able to enjoy everything which makes Guildford so special again.”

For more information about shopping in Guildford visit the Visit Surrey shopping webpage.