April 13 2016.
Peter White writes:
Joan Astell, one of the four founding Trustees of Seaford Museum of Local History (1970), and its effective curator until just after the move to the Martello Tower, died peacefully on the 21st of March with husband Ken at her bedside.
Joan launched the Museum at the Seaford Kaleidoscope at The Downs Hall in 1970, set it up in a caravan in the grounds of West House until the house became usable (c. 1973), and ran the Museum, The Friends of Seaford Museum, and the Seaford Open Air Art Festival there - also providing a base for Seaford Young Musicians - until the move to the seafront.
The Museum also ran an extensive artefacts store on the first floor of what is now St. James's. West House contained the Museum Puppet theatre and also the Baptist Church pipe organ from the demolished Broad Street Church. Its restoration on that site was one of the few projects the Museum was unable to complete.
Joan not only researched and wrote most of the Museum's original pamphlets and plays, but also produced most of the labels on exhibits made on her large-print typewriter. She also gave the Museum’s Illustrated Talks.
She and husband and co-Trustee Ken had worked together for General Accident, after which she became a freelance insurance consultant and journalist, and wrote insurance booklets for the Consumers' Association ("Which").
When the Astells left Seaford for Minehead, a town they had both previously lived in, Joan started another Museum and continued her writing. Ken branched out into restoring historic photographs. In both towns Joan made a number of broadcasts about local history on local radio stations and taught adult history classes. Ken took up writing historical articles as well, and continues with that.
Joan lived in Minehead until shortly before her death. Her great love apart from history was her cats.
Pictured: Joan and Ken at the opening of the Martello Tower as a Museum in 1979.