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Protest over plan to cut William Morris Gallery opening hours

Campaigners are preparing a huge protest at plans to cut the opening hours of the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, north-east London.

Thousands of people are expected to converge on the gallery tomorrow morning (13 February) in a bid to persuade Waltham Forest Council not to pare back the hours of the gallery, which last year attracted over 30,000 visitors.

Friends of the Gallery, the group which is campaigning against the changes, believes that this council move is the first step towards closure.

At present the gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday, plus the first Sunday in every month - but the revised times will be Saturdays and Sundays only. This will bring a threat to staff as well as reducing the availability of the collection to the public.

The gallery, which was opened by Prime Minister Clement Attlee in 1950, is the only public museum in the UK devoted to Morris.

It is housed in the building which was the Morris family home from 1848 to 1856 - the former Water House, a substantial Georgian house which is set in its own extensive grounds (now Lloyd Park).

The gallery's internationally important collections illustrate Morris life, work and influence.

Speaking about the protest, Martin Stuchfield, chairman of Friends of the Gallery, said: 'This will be a group of friends of the gallery, local people and school children who want to say no to the changes. This will be a powerful message.

'People will be travelling a long, long way to make it clear that this is a highly valued collection.

'The trouble is that the council are philistines,' he added.

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by Ed Dorrell

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