Designed by the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield R.A. The Usher Gallery, on Lindum Hill, was officially opened on the 25th May 1927 with a solid gold key by the Prince of Wales.
The gallery was built as a result of a bequest by Lincoln jeweller James Ward Usher.
Usher never married and devoted his life to collecting, travelling far in search of particular items to enhance his collection. He never sought public honours but was offered the position of Sheriff of Lincoln in 1916.
In 1921 he died at the age of 76, and as was his wish he bequeathed to the City his collection of watches, miniatures, porcelain and silver. He also left a considerable amount of money for a gallery to be built in order to house his collection.
Now, in 2019, the County Council wishes to turn the gallery into a wedding venue – despite the fact they do not own the building. This seems to be against the wishes of the original bequest by Usher. It’s certainly against the wishes of many people in the County, some of whom turned up today to show their disapproval.
This is not the place to discuss the arguments put forward by either side. Suffice it to say I believe this is a dispute between the philistine views of Tory Mammon on one hand and the cultural views and wishes of the people on the other.
Today, 13th April 2019, a protest march took place through the city. Starting in the ancient Cornmarket, it processed up the High St, under the Medieval StoneBow, then up The Strait and Steep Hill, on to Castle Square under the shadow of the Cathedral and Norman castle and then down to the Usher itself.
Drummers at the head of the procession beat the progress through the city. All I saw was smiles from those we passed – as it was a good-natured, well-intended event – which in some ways masked the seriousness of the situation.
Pictures and content ©PDBarton 2019