A NEW timber clad building could help boost visitor capacity at the Richard Jefferies Museum and create extra space for community groups.

The Coate museum has created a 3D model of how the transformed former cattle shed could look.

The proposals went on display at a museum event, winning praise from councillors and heritage buffs.

But the building designs are currently only a sketch idea.

Realising the project could cost tens of thousands of pounds, said Richard Jefferies Museum director Dr Mike Pringle.

Volunteers at the museum, the birthplace of Victorian nature writer and former Swindon Advertiser reporter Richard Jefferies, hope to get the backing of site owners Swindon Borough Council.

If they achieve borough backing, they will approach grant bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund for cash.

It is expected the museum would be bidding for grants up to £250,000.

Speaking at the plans’ formal unveiling, Dr Pringle said: “It’s not only about the building. It’s what we do in that building.

"It’s about that broader thing. It’s not only about a museum to a Victorian. It’s a celebration of what he’s all about.”

The museum runs popular toddler groups, forest school-type activities and family days in the summer.

But it needed more space. Currently, it is running roughly at capacity, with 15,000 visitors a year.

An extra space would help boost the options available to the museum in terms of its community work. Vegetable beds currently on the site of the hoped-for hall could be relocated to the other side of the house, where Richard Jefferies’ father once grew food for the table.

Dr Pringle called on museum visitors and members of the public to have their say on the plans.

On Friday night, there was general support for the proposals.

Coun Jane Milner-Barry, the Labour group culture spokesman, said: “I think it’s wonderful. They do such a lot of things there. It’s really been brought to life.”

Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for the town centre, added: "The plans for extending the Richard Jefferies Museum will mean they can diversify and bring in new income for the site, while resurrecting disused space. I welcome what the volunteers are doing and I hope the town gets behind them to make it a success.

"Good ideas should always be embraced, even if they are difficult to achieve and involve hard work. Good luck."