How often have you thought the museum building in March looks less like a museum and more like a school? If so, you would be right. Not so long ago, it was a school.
Initially this beautiful building, which is one of the town's carr stone buildings, was constructed as the South District Girls' School. A girls' grammar school built in 1851 by March Consolidated Charities.
The development of the building is thought to be the responsibility of Morton Peto; an entrepreneur, civil engineer and railway developer. Morton Peto was also involved in the construction of the town's railway.
At this time in Britain's history, most parishes across the country boasted a National School and March was no exception. The purpose of these schools was to provide an education of reading, writing, arithmetic and religion to the many rather than the few. National Schools were run by the Church of England.
After the 1870 Education Act, most National Schools were taken over by the government to become Board Schools, with some remaining as Faith Schools. March's National School became a Board School. Education became free for all children in 1891.
The population of March grew and the town's Board School became overcrowded. At this point the museum building ceased to be used as a girls' school and became an annex for both boys and girls attending the newly formed Board School.
March had a new senior school built in 1904, located on Burrowmoor Road, and the museum building was used for both mixed infants and juniors.
The 1930's saw a rapid increase in the town's population and to accommodate a new senior school was built in Robingoodfellow's Lane, and the Burrowmoor School became a junior school in 1934.
At this point, the museum building became the South District Infant School and remained so until it closed in 1975.
It is only forty years since the museum stopped functioning as a school. Given that, there are still many people who remember attending the building when it was a school and many of those individuals have happy memories of their school days.
March Town Council bought the premises to be used as a museum for the town and surrounding area in 1976 and March & District Museum was opened to visitors the year after in 1977.
The museum houses a number of displays depicting life in March and the surrounding area dating back as far as the Iron Age and Roman occupation.
The museum is purely voluntary led with no paid staff. It is run by the March & District Museum Society which started life before the museum opened in 1972 and was originally a Historical Society.
March & District Museum welcomes new volunteers and if you would like to find out more, please feel free to contact us at, firstname.lastname@example.org. Our doors are open from 10.30am until 3.30pm each Wednesday and Saturday except for Christmas. Entrance is FREE to all and all are welcome.
Why not come and find out more about our local history and heritage today?