About the museum
Brixham Museum & History Society was founded in December 1957 to record, preserve and promote the story of our historic town and its people. In 1999, the members voted to change the Society name to include the word 'Heritage'.
The society opened Brixham Museum on 2nd June 1958, originally in a former pilchard press in Higher Street. The Museum was an early success, and expanded into the first floor of two neighbouring cottages. In the 1960s, it housed the collection of the National Fisheries Museum. In 1967, Torbay Borough Council decided to financially support the Museum with an annual grant towards the increasing costs of expanding activities.
In 1975, the rent at Higher Street became prohibitive, but Torbay Council offered a rent remission on the former Police Station and Sergeant's House on New Road near Bolton Cross, built in 1902. A public appeal helped to raise the necessary conversion costs, and the Museum opened at the present site in July 1976. Coastguard documents and memorabilia held previously at the Coastguard Training School moved into the new museum for the 1980s. In 1997 the loan of the archives of the Brixham Seamen's Orphan Boys Home added over a hundred record books to our collection.
In 1986, Torbay Council agreed a building extension grant, and our Maritime Gallery was opened in April 1990.
Following the 1989 Museums Act, we registered with the Museum & Art Galleries Commission.
During the 2002/2003 winter refurbishment period, a wheel-chair access ramp was built at the Museum entrance, ground floor doorways were widened and a toilet for the use of disabled visitors installed adjacent to the foyer.
A research facility, funded by the Clore Foundation with additional support from AstraZenica, has been made available on the ground floor. The facility offers access to our family history and photographic computerised databases and is a Devon Record Office service point.
We can also offer microfiche access to
- the parish registers of St Mary's and All Saints Brixham and of Churston church
- the records available from the two Brixham Methodist churches
- some parish records from Dartmouth covering Kingswear
The Society has financed the publication of several historical books, including Arthur Ellis's 'History of Brixham and its People'.
Our document collection includes the Brixham Western Guardian, a local newspaper, from 1902 to 1968, fifteen volumes of which have been microfilmed.
Since the 1970s, our curators have led archaeological digs at Berry Head, where Brixham's Napoleonic forts have been painstakingly excavated.
Our boot camp events give youngsters a hands-on experience of life for the regiments which were billeted here from all over the country.
The Museum takes a lead role in Brixham Heritage Week, providing a wide range of events in the town for residents and holiday-makers every May half-term.
We organise a regular public talk series, and staff go out to speak to organisations on a range of historical topics.
Presentations and activity sessions are provided for schools and youth organisations and we have also worked closely with Adult Education services. The museum has provided placements within the Torbay Schools Work Experience Programme.
Museum staff and volunteers answer hundreds of enquiries each year, providing local and family history data, photographs and copy documents to people from all over the world. The Museum is heavily dependent on the efforts and enthusiasm of its members, many of whom are volunteer researchers, painters, cleaners, caretakers, guides, lecturers and fund-raisers throughout the year.