Britain’s only hunting museum is threatened with major reductions in opening hours due to financial cut-backs.

The Melton Carnegie Museum in Melton Mowbray, which houses the Hunting Museum, is currently open seven days a week.

But under proposals by Leicestershire County Council the museum would close for three or four months every winter from this November and open for four or five days a week for the remainder of the year.

The planned 60 percent reduction in opening hours is part of the county council’s plan to save £4.2 million over the next four years from its libraries, heritage and art services.

Michael Clayton, chair of the Museum of Hunting trustees, said: “We expected cuts but they are more draconian than anticipated.”

A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council said: “By closing the museum at its least busy times we can cut costs and keep it open at the most popular times. This reflects public desire to get value for money.”

Nine years ago the Museum of Hunting Trustees raised £100,000 from hunting people towards the cost of the hunting section of the museum, enabling it to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £370,000.

This paid for a complete refurbishment and in 2006 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the museum a further £50,000 to pay for a website — www.foxhuntingvoices.org.uk — reflecting hunting history.

A third Heritage Lottery fund grant, of £969,000, was awarded three years ago (news, 17 April 2008), part of which funded a much-praised new gallery devoted to local rural issues.

Mr Clayton added: “This should concentrate the minds of hunting people throughout Britain on the urgent need for an independent national hunting museum run by the hunts, and not subject to political correctness.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (5 May, 2011)