A new Hastings museum with a dark and chilling twist is to open its doors to its first customers today (August 22).
The True Crime Museum, brainchild of St Martin’s College of Art graduate Joel Griggs, is a new attraction in the town dedicated to true crimes, displaying artefacts and exhibitions from around the world and will be the largest collection of crime memorabilia in the UK.
46-year-old Joel, who has been fascinated by true crime since he was a small child, decided to set the museum after being made redundant from his job in education in 2012.
Visitors to the museum can see a variety of exhibitions including a lethal injection death bed, artwork by the Kray brothers and recreated crime scenes.
Joel told the
“My father was always very keen about forensic pathology and I’d look at his books that he had in the house and there was that feeling of looking at something that was forbidden and scary, but also exciting.”
But there was one particular incident in his childhood which Joel says had a huge impact on him. When he was eight years old, Joel witnessed a bank robbery in Woodford and later discovered that one of the robbers was John Childs, a notorious contract killer, convicted in 1980 of murdering six people in his bathroom at his flat in Dolphin House, Poplar.
In a further twist, Joel’s uncle Arthur Gray was one of the council contractors who refitted the bathroom. And instead of taking the bathtub to the dump, his uncle took to the council depot and planted flowers in it as a memorial to Childs’ victims.
When his uncle retired he took the bath to his allotment and Joel’s family took care of it when Arthur died.
Joel says that the bathtub will soon be moved to museum replanted in as a tribute to Childs’ victims and as a reminder of the impact that crime has on individual victims and society.
Talking about whether a museum like this could be accused of glorifying murderers, Joel says definitely not.
He said: “This does not glorify or condone crime or criminals in any way. Does it sensational violent crime? Probably. But so does every newspaper and news outlet. I think it’s hard to report on violent crime without sensationalising it because it is such an emotive issue.
“But the exhibitions are being very sensitively handled and it’s very clear from our advertising what we are about so people can decide if it’sfor them or not.”
Opening today, Joel says it’s been frantic getting everything ready but is “very excited”.
The museum is located Palace Avenue Arcade, White Rock and is open daily, 10am to 5pm, last admission 4pm.
For more information visit www.truecrimemuseum.co.uk.