Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Textile Heritage Trail

This week sees the launch of a website and textile trail that brings together information about textile collections across West Yorkshire. This is the culmination of the West Yorkshire Textile Heritage Project, a partnership between Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield Museums.
The trail leaflet features a colourful map of West Yorkshire that shows the location of more than 30 museums, mills, historic houses and other places of interest with a textile theme.   Even more information is available on the website, which has links to all the venues and downloadable walks across the district. These walks include one around the significant textile manufacturing centre of Ossett and one along Wakefield Waterfront, which was a thriving industrial area in its hey-day with around 35 mills established on this site, as well as the boatyard which is still in operation today.

Trail leaflets can be picked up at Wakefield Museum or downloaded from the project website. The project website can be viewed here.

The online collections are hosted by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), which makes available over 1000 records from the textile collections of Wakefield, Kirklees, Bradford, Calderdale and Leeds museums.

The online collections contain nearly 300 objects from the Wakefield district, which tell unique stories of the textile industry in the region. Examples of textiles produced in the local area include knitting yarn samples and finished products such as clothing, bedding and soft toys. A large proportion of the collection is made up of photographs and ephemera, including correspondence, advertisements, catalogues, packaging and knitting patterns.

The project was supported by the Museums Association (MA) with a grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Sally Colvin from the MA said ‘We were delighted to support the West Yorkshire Heritage Textile project as the partnership approach from four museum services really stood out. Textile heritage is spread right across the region so it’s only right that the services should work together; the website and trail are great results from this approach.’

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wakefield Theatre Club

Earlier this year, we were thrilled to receive a fantastic collection of Wakefield Theatre Club memorabilia from a generous donor. The material was mainly collected in 1970s by Isabel Cheston, who worked at the club’s cigarette kiosk.


Wakefield Theatre Club was part of the vibrant local variety scene along with the likes of Batley Variety Club. The memorabilia, including flyers, posters and programmes, reveals the long and eclectic list of stars who performed at the club.


Club members were treated to a wide range of different performances: from singers, dancers and orchestras to comedians, ventriloquists and strong women like Joan Rhodes. Known as the Mighty Mannequin, she was famed for bending steel bars and tearing telephone directories in half whilst wearing fishnet tights and high heels.


Working at the club, Isabel was lucky enough to meet many of the performers. She amassed a vast collection of stars’ autographs. The examples below are just a flavour of the whole collection.




Sometimes, Isabel must have grabbed whatever she had to hand for the artists and celebrity patrons to sign- Leeds United footballer, Billy Bremner autographed a page from a waitress’s notepad, whilst Les Dawson signed the back of a fragment of a London Underground map!

The collection also includes a selection of menus from the club’s restaurant. Audiences could treat themselves to a meal before a performance. In 1970 patrons could start with either grapefruit or prawn cocktail followed by a choice of scampi, steak, gammon, chicken, or plaice all served with chipped potatoes. Pie and peas was a cheaper alternative or there were salads as a healthier option. A bottle of Moet & Chandon to wash it all down with would’ve set you back 49/- or, if you preferred, it cost 2/10 for a pint of bitter or 1/6 for a Coca-Cola or lime and lemon.

Were you a member at the Theatre Club? Who do you remember seeing and were you lucky enough to meet any stars?

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Casual Learning Posts

Come, work with us!

We are looking for enthusiastic, committed and reliable people to join our Learning Team on a casual basis, to deliver tours and activities across our sites.

These Casual Learning Enabler posts have been newly created to increase capacity across our museums and castles, initially mainly focused at Pontefract Castle as part of our exciting redevelopment there.


Are you up to the job of bringing these ruins back to life in a fun and engaging way?

We are looking for people who are committed to excellent customer service and are able to deliver (with initial training and support) a range of exciting and hands-on activities and costumed tours for a variety of audiences including primary schools, children and families.
The ideal candidates will work well independently but also within a team; have excellent communication skills as well as experience of delivering a range of learning sessions. This role is offered on an as-and-when required basis.

For more information and to apply, visit the Wakefield Council recruitment page, and type Casual Learning Enabler into the job title box.

Closing date 12 August.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl summer space now open at Wakefield Museum
We are planning a ‘gloriumptious’ event - to mark the opening of the new Roald Dahl space at Wakefield Museum.
The colourful space which is open all summer, celebrates the work of the renowned children’s author, famed for his classic books such as Matilda, the Big Friendly Giant, and James and the Giant Peach.
Our special event  takes place on Wednesday August 3 from 11am to 4pm, and features a range of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory craft inspired activities including an opportunity to invent their own chocolate, make sweet deely boppers and lollipop decorations. 
You will also be able to dress-up, have your face painted and meet a special mystery guest...
The event is free and there’s no need to book in advance.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pokemon Infestation in Wakefield Museum!

Wakefield Museum's conservator has had a bit of a shock recently, as the museum appears to be infested with creatures.

Vigilant staff have picked up signs that the creatures appear to be gathering around a PokeStop at the building.

Even more alarming is these creatures (we understand the scientific name is Pokémon) don't seem to be responding to our usual pest traps, and we seem unable to capture them.

The museum conservator said:
"These things have me baffled. I have tried using all of our usual pest-control methods, but they are still there, sitting on our museum objects. I don't know what else to do!  This is a museum emergency - I've never seen anything like this before."

We need your help! 

Please, come to the museum and help us capture all of these Pokémon.



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Using film to explore the heritage of local Playmakers

We are working with One to One Development Trust on a project for a forthcoming exhibition.

Judi (Creative Director) writes:
Whilst a lot of the country are enjoying tennis season and Wimbledon, we have been busy filming for our latest production, ‘Playmakers’ a short film and exhibition about the Sykes/ Slazenger Factory in Horbury.

What a gem of a story this is.
William Sykes was only 23 when, against family advice, he married Ethel Marshall. Using his wife’s savings William bought a saddle business in Horbury in the 1870s. The factory has had a long and fascinating history including being taken over by Slazenger in 1942, Slazenger were then taken over by Dunlop Rubber in 1959 and then purchased in 1985 by BTR PLC, (both brand names Dunlop and Slazenger were kept) the factory finally closed in 1986.  Apart from during the war when the Sykes factory made a variety of army equipment including gun parts, the main business has been in producing sports equipment.

Last week we were very lucky to be filming Robert Haines who was Technical Manager at Slazenger and oversaw the build of a new product research centre at the site in Horbury. The centre was opened in 1978 and was a hive of innovation and excellence. Tennis rackets, one of the companies’ top products, were traditionally made from wood planks, but the team at Horbury showed incredible ingenuity with their approach to producing a new product which would change the face of racket sports forever. Robert and his team lead the way in the switch over to graphite frames with the launch of the Max 200g tennis racket, the first graphite racket, and the first to be constructed using injection moulding. The racket made its debut in the early 1980s as the preferred choice of world renowned players John McEnroe and Steffi Graf.

Bob Haines with Dunlop Racket
Robert shared with us the excitement of working at the old Sykes factory at this time including when the Dunlop Max 200g went on to win lots of prestigious awards including the Queens Award for Technological Achievement 1985. The factory site now is an industrial park full of small businesses, but from the early days of it being a saddlery, through to it being the home of one of the most successful global brands in the world, the Sykes site holds some magnificent stories. The Horbury factory and its local workforce has produced some of the UK’s most famous sporting equipment in the world, from cricket bats to boxing gloves and including the famous Zig Zag football used in the 1966 World Cup. 
Bob Haines' award for Max 200g Racket Technology

Working with Wakefield Museum we are keen to find any interesting stories from people who worked at the Horbury factory, we are also looking for any artefacts/items that people may have that could contribute to an exhibition entitled ‘Playmakers’ later in the year.

If you would like to contribute to the project in any way, please email us at One to One or ring 07901 686142

Judi Alston
Creative Director
One to One Development Trust

Friday, July 1, 2016

Commemoration of Local Soldiers and the Battle of the Somme

On Monday the 20 June, Wakefield Museum was pleased to host a visit by four pupils, Emily-Jo, Rachel, Holly and Nell, and their history teacher, Miss Quartermain, from Kettlethorpe High School. The purpose of the visit was very special – to install a display created by the pupils to commemorate the First World War.

Kettlethorpe pupils and teacher responsible for making and installing this moving display - Holly, Nell, Ms Quartermaine, Rachel and Emily-Jo
The pupils had conducted research to find out about two First World War soldiers – Pte Frank Hollings and Sgt Nelson Summers – both of whom had connections with the Wakefield area.

Pte Hollings was born and raised in Sandal and was associated with the Harriers at Thornes Park. He died on 20 December, 1915 in a gas attack in Ypres. He was 20 years old.

Sgt Summers was in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Though born in Staffordshire, in his adulthood he lived in Horbury and worked at Charles Roberts & Co. railway works. Sgt Summers was married and had three children. He died at the Battle of the Somme on 1 July, 1916 at the age of 30.

The pupils were able to make contact with some of Sgt Summers’ descendants. His granddaughter was able to tell them that, prior to the outbreak of WWI, Nelson Summers was a member of the Territorials in Wakefield.

Kettlethorpe pupil, Rachel, working with curator, John Whitaker, to install the WWI display in the museum entrance

In addition to conducting their local research, Emily-Jo, Rachel and Miss Quartermain had the opportunity through a government funded programme to journey to France and Belgium to see the WWI battlefields for themselves. One of the objectives set for the pupils by this programme was to share what they saw, learned and experienced with at least 110 other people. The pupils chose written words and art as the mediums through which to share this information.

With this in mind, the school asked if the pupils could display their finished work at Wakefield Museum - and we were very happy to say ‘yes’. The result is a very moving display with, at its centre, a beautifully crafted patch-work textile that illustrates different aspects of what soldiers like Pte Hollings and Sgt Summers experienced during the war and the ways in which we remember WWI soldiers today. This is accompanied in the display by an original drawing dedicated to the memory of Pte Hollings and Sgt Summers created by Lucy, a pupil who was not able to attend for the installation, as well as text cards that reveal what the pupils learned about the lives of the two local soldiers and the impact this project has had on the pupils themselves. The display reached the target of attracting 110 viewers within two days.

Beautifully made patchwork textile commemorating Pte Hollings and Sgt Summers

The installation of the Kettlethorpe pupils’ display in Wakefield Museum is very timely as 1 July, 2016 marks 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.
It is joined by a second commemorative display installed by our curatorial and design team in the atrium on the Upper Ground Floor of Wakefield One which features a wrist watch that was worn by Captain R. England, also of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, during the war. On a paper tag attached to the watch Captain England typed, ‘D [Company] was timed to “go over the top” at 7.48 a.m. on the 1 July and this is the watch which timed that event in the battle’.  Captain England survived the Battle of the Somme and donated the watch to Wakefield Museum in 1974. On a paper tag attached to the watch when it was donated are typed the following words: 'D [Company] was timed to "go over the top" at 7.48 a.m. on the 1st July and this is the watch which times that event in the battle".

A wrist watch belonging to Captain R. England and worn at the Battle of the Somme. This watch is now at the centre of a commemorative display at Wakefield One.

New display to commemorate the Battle of the Somme
Both displays can be viewed at Wakefield One throughout the summer

We have also launched a new Downloadable Resource Pack for Schools. 
Click on the image below to download.

Downloadable Teachers' Pack