Thursday, 18 August 2022

George Orwell visitor centre plans revived

PLANS for a visitor centre dedicated to author George Orwell are set to be revived again with help

PLANS for a visitor centre dedicated to author George Orwell are set to be revived again with help from the town council.

Peter Burness-Smith, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, had to put the project on hold after suffering four heart attacks and a collapsed triple heart bypass.

He has now asked the town council for help, saying: “If the council can give me support and say they want to be involved and help give their time, expertise and experience they would be capable of really helping me.”

At a meeting of the recreation and amenities committee on Tuesday last week, Councillor Ian Reissmann suggested the council intervene to get the project up and running.

He said: “We have a duty to maintain those buildings so having an active museum there would be one solution to that problem.”

Mr Smith, an art publisher, estimates the cost to get the museum up and running would be about £25,000.

He has already agreed a contract to rent the chapel from the town council for a nominal £1 a year until 2043.

The centre will be called George Orwell’s Henley and will document what the town was like between 1900 and 1920.

Orwell arrived in the town with his mother in 1904 and stayed until 1921, when he was 18. He was then called Eric Arthur Blair.

The centre will be free to visit and open all-year round. The centre will have areas to hold debates and meetings rather and Mr Burness-Smith hopes to launch a Saturday morning club for children.

Seven stained glass windows will be installed. Two large windows will depict Orwell’s books Animal Farm and 1984. There will be five other small windows linked to Orwell.

The plans also include a replica of Orwell’s study at Eton College.

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