About Ripon Museum Trust

Prison & Police Museum

Who we are

Ripon Museum Trust was formed in 1982 by a small group of volunteers.  The Trust looks after three museums all looking at the theme of Crime and Punishment.  See what life was like for people living in a Victorian Workhouse at the Workhouse Museum.  Find out what you could have been transported to Australia for at the Prison and Police museum.  Re-enact a Victorian trial at the Courthouse Museum.  Buy an annual pass and visit as many times as you like for 12 months.

The Trust employs several full and part members of staff who are supported by over 100 volunteers.  Over volunteers help across all areas of museum life from Front of house to Finance, Learning to Curation and everything in between. You can read more about our structure here: 
Who we are – Ripon Museums

If you are interested in volunteering with us, please drop us an e-mail to [email protected]

Ripon Liberty Courthouse plaque

Our mission statement 

Our mission is to use the unique trio of the Workhouse, Prison & Police and Courthouse Museums, collections and the stories they tell to help people explore big issues such as fairness, equality, justice and welfare. Through excellent engagement, programming and outreach, together we will inspire people to become compassionate and active citizens, shaping society for the better. We will work for greater participation in our heritage which will enrich lives and improve wellbeing. Volunteering is integral to our organisation; at our core we work as one team. We will make a positive impact on Ripon and the region’s cultural and economic capital. 

How we began 

From its inception in 1968, Ripon Civic Society was concerned at the lack of museum coverage in the city after the closure of the City Museum at Thorpe Prebend House in 1956. This was made worse by the closure of the Wakeman’s House Museum in 1987. The Society continued to press the Local Authorities to provide premises for another museum. 

In 1981, the Old Liberty Prison (built in 1816) became vacant and it was decided to set up the Ripon Museum Trust with the intention of opening the Prison & Police Museum there. Ripon Museum Trust was granted charitable status in 1982. 


1982: Ripon Museum Trust was formed 

1984: the Prison & Police Museum opened 

1994: the Trust obtained a lease for the former Vagrant’s Cell Block at the old Workhouse in Allhallowgate  

1996: the Workhouse Museum opened 

2000: the Trust opened up the old No. 1 Court in the court building, which had closed in 1998, as the Courthouse Museum. 

2010: the Workhouse Garden was restored and opened to the public 

2017: the Trust secured the main block of the Workhouse and opened parts of it during the year to expand the Workhouse Museum 

2018: the Trust secured Arts Council NPO status 

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