AVONCROFT Museum's future is safe and bright, its guardians insist - despite the facility incurring losses of almost £50,000 last year.

During the past financial year, the Stoke Heath museum lost £49,186 and its income dropped by almost a third - from £811,546 in 2017 to £588,274 in 2018.

In its official accounts statement and at its AGM, museum representatives admitted the financial issues could impact on Avoncroft's ability to 'remain a going concern'.

But the museum's trustees have issued a lengthy statement to the Advertiser, blaming the losses on problems including a staffing restructure and insisting Avoncroft is 'on the right trajectory for an improved position in 2019'.

The statement, issued by Michael Woolley, chairman of the trustees, said: "Being an independent museum, we do not receive any financial support from central or local Government.

"We rely on the income from admissions and the museum's trading arm, Avoncroft Enterprises, for profits from the tea room, shop, events, venue for weddings etc. and grants from charitable trusts etc.

"The year 2018 was a difficult year for the museum. The weather was very wet in the early part of the year and very hot during the summer.

"Both restricted the number of visitors to the museum which resulted in a loss in admissions income and spend in the tea room and shop.

"In 2017 the Museum adopted a '20-Year Vision' programme for the future development of the museum which was devised by both staff and Trustees.

"We started to implement this in 2018, a key element of which was a staff restructuring programme to deliver the 'Vision' which resulted in a number of vacancies and other departures.

"This left us short of staff to run the museum, organise events and programmes to the quality and standard we would normally do.

"This was the 'perfect storm' referred to at the AGM. As a result it was difficult to balance the books for 2018.

"However, we now have most of our new staff in place and there has been an increase in paid admissions this year.

"The museum is now on the right trajectory for an improved position for 2019.

"We would like to pay tribute to those staff who remained with us last year for their hard work, often beyond the call of duty to ensure the museum continued to be open and offer a worthwhile if reduced programme to our visitors."

Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings is an independent, open air museum founded more than 50 years ago, which rescues and re-erects historic buildings under threat of demolition across the Midlands and through the buildings tells the stories of the life and work of people who lived and worked in them.

It made a profit of more than £100,000 in 2017 but saw its budget hit last year by the conclusion of the museum's three-year Arts Council England project 'Avoncroft: Going Forward to Excellence'.

Indeed, in 2018, Avoncroft's grants fell by more than 60% from £223,845 the previous year to £84,067.

Its visitor numbers dropped by more than a third in 2018 - from 44,821 to 31,117 - with its staffing numbers falling from 69 to 48, although it does boast more than 100 volunteers.

However, the museum's trading arm, Avoncroft Enterprises reported profits of £28,622 in 2018 and he charity currently has total reserves of £776,058, according to its accounts statement.