REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2018/2019
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Apart from the partial building of a new rugby pitch and stand, the development of the Stone Lodge site appears to have stalled. No preparatory work has yet been undertaken to replace the high-voltage electrical pylons with underground lines - something that was mooted as an essential requirement to enable the planned development of the area.
Perhaps because of this, work has also yet to commence on the new secondary school that Government insisted was provided (and which was due to open in September 2018!) and the pathways and open spaces that once formed part of this local amenity land have all been allowed to become derelict and overgrown.
Similarly there is no evidence of the residential building of the 500 new homes that received planning permission in 2017 or any take-up of the proposed development opportunities by the leisure industry that Dartford Council were encouraging.
During the 2019/20 year we will therefore be approaching Dartford Borough Council to see if, in the event of a long term delay in the development of the site, they would be prepared to make a plot of land available to us for a period of time, say three years.
If their response is in the negative we will then try and negotiate the use of land at one of their Country Parks by offering to provide them with free space in the Museum building(s) to use as a Visitor Centre/Tourist Information Office.
If this offer is unsuccessful, then our final attempt for a facility in the Dartford area will be to approach The Bridge development next to the Dartford Crossing. This development has the designation of being a "Science & Technology Park" and although the intention is to attract new technology industries to the area, allowing a charitable Museum that is science based would provide a useful local amenity to residents and schools in the area.
Given the problems in acquiring land/premises in the Dartford Area an alternative location has been put forward for consideration by one of our volunteers - an approach to Gravesham Borough Council for use of the Gordon Lodge building at their Fort Gardens riverside heritage park and leisure area.
This building appears to be largely unused except as a temporary store for unwanted items and as a tea-room for the local Dustmen (a facility the Museum would be more than happy to continue).
The advantages should this building become available to us are that:-
Tentative enquiries have been made on our behalf with several of the local Counsellors and we await their response with great interest. The opening of a museum in this part of Gravesend would be of benefit to their tourist offering and, as our collection directly supports part of the National Curriculum, be also of benefit to local school children.
Sponsorship, Grants and Funding
We have partnered with a professional organisation based in Manchester that specialises in helping charities obtain funding from charitable trusts, philanthropists and corporate sponsors. Funding & Grants Ltd will, for a fee, put together and manage up to 15 funding applications on our behalf.
The starting point for this process was for us to produce a robust and engaging Business Plan for them to use within their submissions. This we did, based on a format recommended by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, but Funding & Grants Ltd considered, based on their experience of applications that have been successful in the past, that this particular format was unlikely to be an acceptable document for the purpose of encouraging support.
They have subsequently provided us with much advice and guidance on how we should be constructing and positioning our plan for it to have the maximum chance of success and we shall be working on this during 2019-20.
The untimely death of our resident qualified Geologist, Mrs Shirley Freeman, left the Museum with a skills and knowledge gap that had to be addressed quickly for Stone Museum to be able to retain credibility as a serious player in the Museum, Educational and Information Service worlds, particularly at a time when we will soon be actively seeking third party sponsorship and support.
I am therefore pleased to announce that to address this, the Chairman has now obtained a Level 3 qualification in palaeontology from the Open Study College in Solihull and has successfully attended and passed a number of Level 1-3 training courses covering geology, palaeozoic and mesozoic ecosystems, mining engineering and health & safety in the laboratory & field.
Training & Development
We have embarked on building up a knowledge base of all available training materials and courses on the Earth Sciences that can be used by any member of the Museum to improve their knowledge and skills.
Course materials and recorded lectures have been acquired free of charge from institutions across the globe such as the UK Open University, Harvard University, Harvard Natural History Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Alberta, British Columbia Open Campus, University of Newcastle (New South Wales) and University of Hong Kong.
Health & Safety
As a result of the training course undertaken on health & safety in the laboratory and field, all of our risk assessments and safe systems of work have now been reviewed and expanded to encompass current best practice in those areas.
The Charities Commission have changed the way that they capture details of charities and this year have required us to provide:-
In November, the Museum was invited by IPSOS MORI to participate in a Government audit of cyber security processes and technology and I am delighted to report that our iT systems passed scrutiny with flying colours.
Brian R J Glover
The Museum collection now stands at almost 5000 items made up of 1600 fossils, 1700 rocks, minerals, gemstones and meteorites, 27 botanical specimens, 150 photos, pictures and works of art and almost 1400 hardcopy publications.
Department of Palaeontology
Acquisitions by Purchase - A fine tooth from the woolly rhino Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis was dredged from the Pleistocene sands of the North Sea off Lowestoft, Suffolk and was acquired from Natural Wonders Ltd of Whitby.
Acquisitions by Donation
Department of Geology
Acquisitions by Purchase
Acquisitions by Donation - Specimens of limestone and breccia from San Antonio on the island of Ibiza were kindly donated by Ms Natasha Newing of Dartford, Kent
Acquisitions by Field Trip - Specimens of red chert from Greenhithe & Gravesend in Kent
As part of our investigations into the 16th Century voyages of Sir Martin Frobisher to Canada, we visited the Ratcliffe Cross area of East London from where his voyages set sail.
Contemporary reports suggested that this area was so named because of the cliffs of red pebbles along this stretch of the Thames foreshore. The cliffs have now long gone due to the expansion and development of London over the centuries but quantities of these red stones can still be found along the local "beach".
Much of these stones were used by Elizabethan merchant mariners as ballast when heading back downriver empty from London and were subsequently dumped when they were able to obtain a cargo. Consequently red chert can be found along much of the Thames foreshore, particularly where shipping ports were once located such as at Greenhithe and Gravesend in Kent.
Department of Geology
A carved wooden Dodo - a piece of native street art from the island of Mauritius - was purchased from a private collector at Pedham Place Boot Fair in Swanley, Kent.
Art & Picture Department
Acquisitions by Purchase
Acquisitions by Donation - A glass tankard celebrating the centenary of ESSO (Standard Oil) in 1988 was kindly donated by Mrs Marion Glover from the estate of her late father, Mr Walter Meadows of Dartford, Kent.
Department of Zoology
Hatched in 2012, both of our horseshoe crabs, the mainstay of the Museum's "Living Fossils" collection have thrived whilst in our care and had moulted successfully many times as they grew. This year, however, both crabs got stuck in their annual moult - an event that is not uncommon in the wild and unfortunately almost always fatal.
Despite assistance from a number of experts and specialists in the Zoological Society of London at Whipsnade, The National Aquarium of Maryland in Baltimore, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in Tallahassee and The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, it is with much regret that we report that we were unable to save them and both crabs died in December 2018 within just two weeks of each other.
Stone Museum expresses its very grateful thanks for the quick support and advice provided by the teams at these organisations.
A full investigation was undertaken to try and identify what may have contributed to this incident but without success and we are not prepared to obtain new crabs unless we can be assured that we have the knowledge, skills, materials and technology to guarantee their health and wellbeing.
The US Association of Zoos and Aquariums is in the process of producing an animal care manual on horseshoe crabs which is due to be published in 2020 and until this is available to us, our Marine Aquarium will remain closed.
Our Woollemi pine has produced both male and female cones for the first time this season and we look forward to the prospect of collecting and successfully propagating seeds later in the year.
In this, Stone Museum joins an exclusive band in that along with the specimens held by the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley, Surrey and Hyde Hall in Essex, our tree is one of the first to achieve this level of maturity in the Northern Hemisphere.
Acquisitions by Purchase
Two major changes this year affected the Museum website:-
To counter the former, our site is now hosted by 000webhost - an American Company based in Arizona but who provide server space for the UK in Manchester. This is a free service and provides us with 1Gb of webspace. A great improvement on the 100Mb we were provided by TalkTalk. So far, the transfer has appeared to be seamless with no technical or access issues reported.
The new European GDPR legislation has meant that many news sites in the United States will no longer allow internet access from European countries. As the news-desk on our website relies on capturing news about the Earth Sciences from across the whole world this has meant that we have had to use Virtual Private Network (VPN) software that fools websites into thinking that we are resident in the USA. This service is provided free of charge by eVenture Ltd of Nottingham, England.
The total number of visitors to our website is 214,667 - disappointingly up by less than 200 since last year.
Our library holdings now contain over 24,800 items comprising almost 1400 hard copy books, leaflets and magazines and almost 22,500 books, booklets, leaflets and news articles held electronically.
A marvellous donation this year to our library collection was of a boxed copy of The Dinosaur Hunters, published by the American Museum of Natural History from Mrs Natasha Newing of Dartford, Kent.
Donations were down by 14.7% but costs were also reduced by 9.8%.
The total value of Fixed assets decreased by 11.8% partially due to depreciation but also due to a prior year adjustment that was made to account for assets proper to the Collection that had been wrongly included. The effect of these means that Total assets, including the value of the Museum collection, were down by 3.7% overall.
Admin costs this year are down by 10% from 2017/18.
1. Museum Expenditure
As a non profit making organisation, the Museum aims to spend the minimum possible on administration and overheads so that funds can be channelled into curation of the collection and the acquisition of display equipment and new specimens.
Breakdown of expenditure
Expenditure by Department
2. Tangible fixed assets and depreciation
Fixed assets at 31st March 2019 are stated at the lower of (a) cost, less provision for depreciation - if originally purchased by the Museum, or (b) net realisable value, less provision for depreciation - if the asset was originally donated free of charge.
Depreciation is provided on a straight line basis, and is calculated on historical amounts, after providing for any permanent diminution in value. The period of depreciation being the estimated life of the asset subject to the maxima shown below and commencing when the capital expenditure was incurred or on acquisition of the asset by donation.
|Type of asset||Maximum period|
|Computer equipment||10 years|
|Laboratory and display equipment||20-40 years|
Estimated lives and residual values of individual items are reviewed periodically and amended when circumstances change. Asset values shown represent the estimated replacement cost of the collection with specimens of similar quality and size.
No specimen in the collection is considered to be a disposable asset - the Museum's charter provides strict safeguards and restrictions on disposals of the specimens themselves.
4. Interest Receivable
Current account interest is received gross of tax each quarter. Investment interest is received gross of tax each June.
5. Prior Year Adjustments
An exceptional entry in the accounts this year has been made following an internal audit that found some items in the Collection had erroneously been also included as Fixed Assets.
|Gift Shop Sales||38.29||0.00|
|Stock in Hand||1041.73||1021.30|
|Cash In Hand||1764.35||1950.70|
|Purchase of Fixed Assets||360.88||57.92|
|Cash in Hand||1764.35||1955.91|
|Stock in Hand||1041.73||1021.30|
|STATEMENT OF ASSETS|
|Position as at 31st March 2019|
|Prior Year Adjustment||-1229.88||0.00|
|Value of Collection||38223.17||38457.13|