The Turner House Gallery in Plymouth Road Penarth and its original portfolio of Turner paintings – worth millions – is believed to be legally owned by the people of Penarth under the James Pyke Thompson bequest

The National Museum of Wales – an institution owned and maintained by  taxpayers – has refused to make public the details of its negotiations with Penarth Town Council on the future of the  Turner House Art Gallery in Plymouth Road, Penarth.

Penarth Town Council – after trying for 12 months to keep the negotiations secret – admitted in June this year that  it IS in talks with the National Museum of Wales with a view of taking over the Turner House Art Gallery in Plymouth Road.

The council has said that  – subject to agreement being reached – it plans to convert Turner House into “a new multi-purpose cultural venue” to promote the culture and heritage of the area – although quite how it proposes to raise the money to do this has yet to be explained.

The projected acquisition of Turner House from the National Museum of Wales has been discussed in 3 meetings of the Board of Trustees of the National Museum .

Members of the public are not allowed to attend the “Closed Session” discussions of many items at Board meetings of the National Museum of Wales . The Museum had delayed publishing minutes of these meetings for more than a year. When – under pressure – they eventually WERE published they were censored – and the three key discussions on Turner House were removed from the record.

The quarterly meetings of the Trustees are supposed to be open to the public – but the trustees had banned members of the public from attending the relevant parts of any meeting at which Turner House was discussed.

Laurie Pavelin, chair of Penarth Lifeboat Station is also Treasurer of the National Museum of Wales

The public ban is all the more surprising because the Treasurer of the National Museum of Wales is Laurie Pavelin, the chair of Penarth Lifeboat Station – who sometimes takes the chair at the meetings of the board of Trustees

For more than a year the National  Museum had also failed to publish any minutes of its quarterly meetings of its Board of Trustees – as it is required by law to do.

When – under the pressure of a Freedom of Information Act request  – the National Museum eventually DID get around to publishing five sets of the delayed minutes this month, details of the relevant discussions  regarding Turner House over the 18 months had been filleted from the documents and removed.

The National Museum of Wales (which comes under the Welsh Labour Government) is has now apologised for the delay in publishing this year’s and last year’s minutes.

However the Museum says The minutes that include statements relating to Turner House Gallery in Penarth are 28 September 2017, 14 December 2017 and 15 March 2018. On all three occasions it is noted that the matter was discussed in the Closed Session where confidential matters are considered.”

There is however considerable legal; doubt whether the National Museum has any right to regard such matters as “confidential” – because Turner House and its paintings were bequeathed to the people of Penarth in the will of the Penarth philanthropist James Pyke Thompson.

James Pyke Thompson – benefactor and founder of Turner House Penarth

There is also some doubt as to who actually holds the title to Turner House itself  – as there are no documents filed in the Land Registry.The property did originally belong to the now defunct Penarth Urban District Council – but,  on terms which are unclear, entrusted the building and its millions of pounds worth of Turner paintings to the National Museum  to be run as a subsidiary art gallery.

The nominal landlord of Turner House – the National Museum of Wales – has however been renting-out the building to the existing tenants – the photographic “charity” Ffotogallery . This organisation is to move out of Turner House to new premises in the centre of Cardiff in July next year.

It was on March 1st 2017 that PDN first revealed that  Penarth Town Council had entered into secret discussions with the National Museum of Wales with a view to acquiring Turner House .See


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  1. Scootergirl says:

    Surely there is something underhand going on here – how can Turner House be ‘taken over’ by the National Museum of Wales as it was left to the People of Penarth. The town council has no business even discussing the possibilty especially with all talks being made without the People of Penarth being made aware of what exactly is going on.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Please see my numerous FOI Requests to the National Museum on What Do They Know Website.passim.
      When pressure was applied it was admitted to me in confidence by a senior official at the National Museum that (as the Meetings Minutes revealed) the Turner Gallery had not been discussed by the Trustees for at least three years.
      Dereliction of duty or Gross Incompetence in Public Office by the Trustees? You may say that I couldn’t possibly comment.
      However clandestine this is, it is at least progress.
      I will keep a watching brief at the moment. Thanks PDN for these invaluable updates.
      Be in no doubt whatsoever we will have our Turner Gallery back soon.
      I would be more inclined to be concerned if the somewhat ill informed and democratically deficient Penarth Town Council keep the negotiations entirely secret..

      • Josh Henigan says:

        Admitted to you “in confidence”? Clearly you can’t be trusted to maintain a confidence. Here of all places.

  2. Chris David says:

    From what’s leaked out it all appears a watered down nothing of a plan. No repatriation of the extensive art collection planned. Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised! But why the (usual in suppressed Wales mind) secrecy? Does it boost their sense of self importance or are they hatching some Labour plot they know the greater public wont like? It’s a public matter as is all council business. Publish.

  3. Chris David says: A multi purpose cultural venue! I’ve emailed my ward councillor for the full plan.

    • Frank Evans says:

      Mark might read this as National Muslim proposes a multi cultural prayer venue in Penarth, with his racist glasses on.

      • snoggerdog says:

        it will years & years yet before they turn turner house into a mosque,dont be so impatient.

  4. Racist Mark (aka Mark Foster) says:

    The building is pink and looks oh so Gay to me and I think the intellectuals Stephen, Jon and Jasna have plans to turn it into a multicultural LGBT drop-in bar to compete with the Railway Hotel across the road. They’ve already got Alun Michael’s personal CCTV camera up to the standards of the South Wales Police to keep an eye out for you and all they’ll need is wheelchair access.

    They have to find some way of bringing you Plymouth Road reactionaries into the 21st century, you see, Boyos. Turners painting are too nationalistic and militaristic for you. Thats why they’re keeping it secret.

  5. Big Davey says:

    They will be able to turn it into the success that Penarth Pier had become.

    Perhaps make Prof Hazel the Chairman?

  6. Peter Church says:

    What I want to know is, who’s Mum??
    and why does she need to be on the bid team anyway!

Comments are closed.