The founder of a popular private museum has died. George Musgrave devoted his retirement and life savings in setting up The Musgrave Collection in Eastbourne.

The 97-year-old died peacefully on Monday, surrounded by close family.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Musgrave, who was an accomplished artist, toy maker and athlete.

A central feature of the museum is a series of 40 paintings depicting the life of St Paul, the result of 30 years of research and which took him 20 years to paint.

It also has memorabilia, Victorian inventions, pottery, coins, toys, old newspapers and stamps collected over the years.

Mr Musgrave grew up in poverty as a result of his father’s death in World War I.

In his younger days he was invited to join a squad of 50 athletes training for the Olympics in the late 1930s.

A Londoner by birth, he trained with Charlton Athletic in 1947, the year the club won the FA Cup.

In the 1950s he was a minister in the Congregationalist Church in Georgetown and all of these aspects of his life feature in the collection at the museum, which was founded in 1983.

Entertaining speaker

Glenn Smith, the current manager and curator at the museum, said: “George was an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker. He would enchant visitors with his enthusiasm and sense of humour.

“Behind every exhibit in the museum is a story. Part of his story and part of the story of the 20th century and he told the stories well.

“His mind remained sharp. He would throw out ideas to me on a daily basis. Plans for projects came thick and fast, yet he was always thoroughly engaged with whichever one he was working on at the time.

“His motivation was always to be of help, to individuals and the wider community.

“He never charged admission and lived frugally on a state pension while funding the museum entirely from his life savings – such was his determination to be of service to the community.”

Volunteers at the museum say they intend to keep the Musgrave Collection open.

A service for Mr Musgrave will take place on December 13 at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church in Blackwater Road, Eastbourne, at 1.45pm.

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