HUNDREDS of people turned out to enjoy the last weekend of troubled Cogges Manor Farm before it is taken over by new management.

The museum, in Church Lane, Witney, which had been making a loss and was being propped up by Oxfordshire County Council, shut its doors last night and will not reopen until April.

County Hall, which had pumped thousands of pounds into keeping the farm open, had been desperately seeking to offload the museum.

It is hoped it will reopen when a charitable trust takes over next year.

Lorraine Horne, marketing and publicity manager at the museum, said: “We have had really good visitor figures throughout the weekend. Lots of people took the opportunity to come and see us.

“The weather wasn’t great, but it didn’t stop people.”

There was a bumper programme of events including former BBC Really Wild Show presenter Howie Watkins holding animal handling sessions on Saturday, an open-air performance of Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice on Sunday evening, and a photography display showing Cogges through the years yesterday.

Trust members were at the farm to get people’s thoughts on how to breathe new life into the attraction.

Trustee Graeme Merifield said: “We were here to hear people’s ideas for how we will take the museum and site forward for the coming seasons.

“Obviously the farm museum is very important to a lot of people who have been coming here for years and years, it’s part of their history.

“There is an awful lot of interest and we are planning to make Cogges a centrepiece for the local community.”

Mr Merifield said no plans for the site had yet been decided, but between now and April 1, the trust would be coming up with ideas on how Cogges could be relaunched.

He said: “We are bringing forward some of the great ideas that are already taking place at the museum and shop and we will be bringing in more activities.

“At this stage we’re trying to find out what the people think, what they most enjoy about coming to Cogges and what they would like to see in the future.

“We want to make the museum more attractive to them and their families, who are people who have been coming here for decades and who would be very sorry to see the museum disappear.”

Despite its popularity, Cogges has been running at a loss of about £200,000 a year for the past few seasons.

All 30 members of staff are set to lose their jobs.

The majority are seasonal staff, but the five permanent workers will be employed elsewhere in the council.

The animals will all be re-homed.