AVONCROFT Museum chiefs have performed a radical U-turn to protect jobs at the Stoke Heath attraction by withdrawing plans to axe 11 of their 13 full-time workers.

The Advertiser reported earlier this month that staff who had worked at the museum of historic buildings for decades had been left in tears by the proposed cuts.

Avoncroft's chairman of trustees Michael Woolley told us at the time that the 'difficult decision' had been taken to protect the museum's future.

However, in a letter to museum members, Mr Woolley has since revealed an about turn in the plans after taking workers' feedback about the proposed changes into account.

In the letter, seen by the Advertiser, he wrote: "We are withdrawing the current proposal for re-structuring the staff.

"And, in light of the feedback from the initial consultations, will be reviewing the situation with a view to producing new proposals in due course.

"The current programme of individual consultations has been discontinued."

Avoncroft has struggled financially in recent times, a loss of almost £50,000 in 2018 exacerbated by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic this year.

The museum was forced to close for three months between March and June during the initial national lockdown and asked members of the public for donations to keep it going.

Grants totalling more than £300,000 from the National Lottery and Government helped stave off worries about permanent closure but the museum is again shut until December during this second lockdown.

Mr Woolley's letter to members added: "The site will be kept safe on a ‘care and maintenance’ basis until such time as we can safely re-open, hopefully in early spring next year."

Staff who were furloughed previously will be again with the three remaining workers still on site to maintain the museum.

"We are faced with unprecedented, difficult, fast moving times. We have tried to put in place measures that will support our staff for as long as possible," Mr Woolley's letter concluded.