On the 30th August a letter from the ‘curator’ of the Dutch Cottage was published in the Echo heavily criticising us. We aim here to answer the criticisms. The text from the letter is in italics. Facts in bold, the rest are my personal comments.
Quote. Celebrity’s visit to Dutch Cottage
Referring to the article in the paper about a popular celebrity who made a visit to our lovely little cottage, some facts must be corrected.
I was asked by Mr Bishop of the Rotary Club if it was possible to open the cottage, as key holder and curator. Most certainly not a problem.
Fact. The Archive Chair was approached by the show’s producer at the end of June outlining their proposed visits/filming. They asked if someone would be available to provide historical background and be interviewed. The Archive Chair put them in touch with Rod Bishop, an associate Archive member, who then dealt with the arrangements concerning the 2 visits directly with the BBC2 producer.
I can personally confirm this and the fact that the ‘curator’ was in fact first approached by myself and there are witnesses. She then took it upon herself to contact Rod Bishop direct.
Quote. The impression given in the article was that Canvey Archive was in charge of things and ran the cottage. This is not correct.
Fact. We have an excellent working relationship with the local press, but like any other group that submits something, we have no say in how the articles are formulated, how much or how little information is included or what impression may be given.
Again I can confirm this. The photo and necessary names were submitted by myself with a very brief two line description. When the reporter rang for more details I told him we were not allowed to tell him anymore.
Quote. The archive has no connection to the cottage other than recording any events there which they are invited to by Benfleet & District Historical Society, or stuff of local interest.
Fact. At no time have we given the impression that we run the Dutch Cottage Museum. We’re always scrupulously careful about giving credit where credit’s due.
We have never claimed any connection to the Dutch Cottage and have filmed there on many occasions both with and without being invited to attend. The filming was done over two visits. The first the ‘curator’ was unable to have the cottage manned, she was in fact off the island. We (Rod Bishop and myself) met up with the film crew at the cottage. Filming was done in and around the cottage grounds. Rod Bishop and I answered the many questions Ella had for us. We then took them around the island so they could film in other locations which was noticed by many people. We have photos of this to be published at a later date.
Quote. The BBC2 film crew duly did their filming and asked Canvey Archive specifically not to alert or advertise their presence or the celebrity. They were lovely extremely efficient and professional people.
Fact. We, at the Archive were very discreet concerning the 2 visits (common sense rather than a directive).
Quote. A couple of the people who should have featured in pictures, were not acknowledged and sidelined by the archive, despite one of them featuring a great deal in the filming. Another local prominent person was coerced into being pictured and is not happy about it.
Fact. Regarding the photo which was published, we had permission to take one posed photo. The rest of our photos will not be released until the BBC has given us the broadcast date. This is clearly stated on our web site. Also, the prominent local person voiced no objection to being included.
Again I can confirm our Chair asked if a photo could be taken, this was not part of the filming and does not come under the request not to publish. Michael was very pleased to agree to our request. I know for a fact Ray Howard was very pleased to be in the photo and have the opportunity to meet Michael. He lives nearby and our Chair went and asked him to come down.
Quote. There was stuff on Facebook within hours and the Echo and Leigh Times but we are unsure of their source as no reporters were present.
Fact. Yes there was. The secret was out long before I put anything on there. As previously stated I sent the photo to the Echo with a very short description. I did not write their story. The local Times published more or less the text I sent in. Only the posed photo was used.
Quote. On the archive site where pictures were posted, it says they were not permitted to post anything but they had anyway, there by contradicting themselves in the rush to get a picture in the paper and claim ownership.
Fact. Regarding the photo which was published, we had permission to take one posed photo. The rest of our photos will not be released until the BBC has given us the broadcast date. This is clearly stated on our web site.
At no time have we given the impression that we run the Dutch Cottage Museum. We’re always scrupulously careful about giving credit where credit’s due.
Quote. The Dutch Cottage is owned by Castle Point Council who maintain the building which in turn is manned voluntarily by members of Benfleet Historical Society during the summer months.
Canvey Archive does not have anything to do with the cottage or the running of it. They owe Mr Bishop and Benfleet Historical and apology for their behaviour on the day.
Fact. The Archive fails to understand why apologies are owed to anyone considering our approach on the lead up and on the day has been nothing but professional, friendly and co-operative.
I can confirm this. In fact, I believe it is the ‘curator’ who should not only be apologising to the archive but also Rod Bishop and the Benfleet and District Historical Society for going beyond her remit and bringing their organisation into disrepute.
By the way the BBC2 film crew were wonderful and very respectful of the cottage and the celebrity fell in love with it. Hopefully he may come back privately which would be a privilege. He is a lovely Gentleman.
Curator Dutch Cottage.