A LEADING conservation charity is to quit its Upton headquarters to become part of a new a national body.

The Institute of Paper Conservation (IPC) was established in 1976 and has been based at Bridge House, Waterside, for the past three years.

It is the leading organisation for paper conservation and has more than a 1,000 members worldwide, ranging from librarians and archivists to curators and artists.

In April, the IPC will move to London to merge with four other organisations to form The Institute of Conservation.

This will be a single body with responsibility for "protecting and preserving the cultural heritage of the UK".

At one time, the IPC employed six local people.

It is now run solely by Tina Marshall, who left Upton last year for France from where has been running the charity.

She said the merger was a step forward.

"It's a good move. Museums don't have much money and, as a priority, conservation was getting pushed back further and further, so it needed someone to stand up and shout for it," she said.

Ms Marshall will return to Britain in February to help clear out the paperwork and documents stored at Bridge House. These will be transported to the Institute of Conservation, once its location has been decided on.

Over the decades, the IPC has organised hundreds of lectures and seminars and its members have helped restore photographs, Eastern and Western art, scrolls, fans and maps, among other things.

Ms Marshall recalled one particularly unusual project.

"I remember when Princess Diana died and we had to look after all the cards left on all the flowers and put them into storage," she said.

Ms Marshall became the charity's administrator nine years ago, after completing a history degree as a mature student.

She now plans to move into property development in France.