New Heritage Trust for Somerset and Devon

The West County’s rich past gained a new champion this week when the South West Heritage Trust took over management of heritage services previously run by Somerset and Devon County Councils.

The two Councils have created the Trust as a way of ensuring a strong and sustainable future for the services. The Councils will be the Trust’s main funders, but the new organisation, as an independent charity, will also be able to seek funding from other places.

The Trust’s responsibilities now include the popular Museum of Somerset in Taunton, Somerset’s Historic Environment Service, and archive and local studies services in both counties.

Taken together, the rich and varied archive collections of Devon and Somerset represent one of the largest and most comprehensive sets of local historical records in the UK.

The Trust will also care for important heritage landscapes, including the historic Cothelstone Hill.

David Gwyther, Chairman of the Trust, said: “This is a very exciting time for heritage services in Somerset and Devon.

“Being a charity brings new opportunities for the services to develop and prosper. It also means we can reach more people – both those who love our heritage already and those who have yet to discover it.”

Cllr David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, and a Trustee of the new organisation, said: “The Trust provides a way of making sure that the counties’ precious heritage, and the services that safeguard it, continue to make a major contribution to the life, identity and prosperity of Somerset and Devon, both now and in the future.

“I’m delighted that the Trust has been launched successfully.”

Trustees were appointed following an open recruitment process earlier this year. The Trust also has an Advisory Forum representing stakeholders and other interest groups from across Somerset and Devon.

Notes to editors
For more information please contact Tom Mayberry at South West Heritage Trust on 01823-347410 or tmayberry@somerset.gov.uk