Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Take a Great Selfie

Pop into Wakefield Museum on Friday 21 April to get some hints and tips on how to take a great selfie.

Photographer Paul Duck will be on hand to help you create the perfect pic!

Friday 21 April
11am to 3pm

Free, suitable for all ages.

Wakefield Museum, Burton Street, Wakefield, WF1 2EB

When you have snapped your picture why not let us have a look by posting on Facebook or Twitter @WFMuseums #WakeyMuseum

Friday, March 24, 2017

Family Fun

Get creative and have fun with free 'Family Fun' sessions at our museums every Saturday. 

Come along to the museums between 11am and 3pm to  join in with crafty activities.

There will be something different to do each week.

When you've finished making you can then explore the museums, where you'll find loads of great child friendly displays. 

Each museum has things for families to get involved with amongst the displays.  From dressing up to getting hands-on the museums are jam packed with family fun!

Family Fun Sessions are every Saturday 11am to 3pm at

Castleford Museum
Pontefract Museum
Wakefield Museum

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Playmakers: Your Memories of Slazenger

As part of our Playmakers exhibition at Wakefield Museum, we have been asking visitors to share their memories of the Dunlop Slazenger factory at Horbury and we haven’t been disappointed by your responses.


The Playmakers exhibition at Wakefield Museum

Famous sports manufacturer, Slazenger came to Horbury in 1942 when it merged with rival firm, William Sykes Ltd, which had been established by a local saddler’s apprentice in 1860 and grown into a major international company. Slazenger’s London factory had suffered serious bomb damage in the Blitz and the company moved most of its production north. Slazenger later merged with Dunlop but the Horbury factory remained the company’s manufacturing centre until 1986.


The William Sykes Ltd and later Dunlop Slazenger factory at Albion Mill, Horbury

 Many of you have been telling us about working at the factory or sharing your family connections to Slazenger. We’ve had responses from former racket stringers, football makers as well as cleaners, paper boys, mechanics, salespeople and managers. Most people have fond memories of their time with the company.


I worked at Slazenger from 1966-1976 stringing tennis rackets. They were really good days. I’ve got many happy memories.

I worked at Slazengers from 1960-1970, first making golf balls. The department moved to Speke near Liverpool and I then made tennis rackets. I enjoyed my days there- good place to work.

I worked in the golf bag department. Great times!

I was in the archery department sanding arrows. I loved watching the cricket bats being made.

My mum worked as a machinist at the Slazenger factory for 10 years in the 70s and 80s. She met a few famous sportsmen there and has a photo with the legend, Seve Ballesteros.


Quiver of arrows, Slazenger, 1950s

 On loan from Roger Byard

Don Bradman Autograph cricket bat, William Sykes Ltd and Slazenger, 1940s, produced shortly after the two companies merged
Don Bradman Autograph cricket bat, William Sykes Ltd and Slazenger, 1940s, produced shortly after the two companies merged

Lots of employees stayed with the company for many years and held several varied roles.


My late husband worked at Slazengers from leaving school in 1966 for 23 years. He made tennis rackets, sprayed golf clubs and table tennis tables. He worked a short while in the laboratory, getting the paint so it was a good finish and gave optimum bounce to the table tennis balls. He went from Horbury to Normanton when it opened.


Working at Slazenger was frequently a family affair. Often, multiple generations of relatives were employed by the factory.


I worked there when I left school. The interview was: “Do any of your family work here?” / “Yes” / “No problem then.” Many families in Horbury and Horbury Bridge were fully employed there.

My Dad worked as a sales office manager from 1960 up to his retirement. I used to clean the factory during the summer holidays from college.

I’ve been connected to the factory all my life! My uncle was works manager, my Dad in the golf department, and my husband a sewing machine mechanic. I worked as a machinist in a few departments. Fantastic place to work!


Some visitors have also been reminiscing about owning Slazenger goods.


I had a Slazenger tennis racket when I was at Wakefield Girls’ High School. I played with it for many years after I left school. Slazenger and Dunlop products were so well known.

I had a Slazenger hockey stick and tennis racket at grammar school, 1950s/60s. They went to university with me. They were bought via the shop at Slazenger. I’ve still got the tennis racket.

I got my first Slazenger tennis racket in 1965. Had it throughout grammar school- it went to teacher training with me too!

Slazenger Demon tennis racket, 1950s/60s and Slazenger Challenge Bi-hander tennis racket, 1970s

 On loan from Jim Warner
Slazenger Demon tennis racket, 1950s/60s and Slazenger Challenge Bi-hander tennis racket, 1970s

 On loan from Jim Warner
Did you or anyone in your family work at the factory? Have you played sports with Horbury-made  Dunlop Slazenger products? Please keep your stories coming. Share your memories with us when you visit the museum, leave us a comment below, or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter:, @wfmuseums.

Visit Playmakers to read more memories and add your own recollections to our comments board. You can also check out our oral history films of former Slazenger employees.

Playmakers is at Wakefield Museum until 1st July 2017.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wakefield Museum Welcomes The Cribs

An exhibition showcasing the rise to fame of successful Wakefield rock band, The Cribs, is opening on Wednesday 15 February.

At Wakefield One, the atrium cases will be displaying some of the band’s instruments and other items that chart the history of the popular band.

The displays will be unveiled at a public launch event on Tuesday 14 February, where The Cribs drummer, Ross Jarman, will be at Wakefield One to officially open the new exhibition. 

Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “As a music fan, I am delighted to welcome this new exhibition to Wakefield One.

“The Cribs have never lost touch with their Wakefield roots and this exhibition is celebrating the huge success that the local band has achieved. I’m sure the display will attract Cribs fans from across the country.”

At the end of the display, the band is donating some of the objects to a permanent collection at Wakefield Museum, including a mustang guitar, white bass and drum sticks.

Create Café will also be displaying The Cribs work by graphic designer, Nick Scott. The display will include various artwork and album covers from The Cribs legacy.

The Cribs have electrified the British music scene since 2002. They have produced six albums and played countless gigs, festivals and concerts around the world. The Cribs are the Jarman brothers; twins Ryan on guitar and Gary on bass and younger brother Ross on drums.

The band has collaborated with major names in the world of rock. Records have been produced by Edwyn Collins, Bernard Butler and legendary guitarist Johnny Marr joined the band for four years.

In 2012, The Cribs were honoured with the Spirit of Independence award at the Q Awards and the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the NME Awards.

The display will run from 15 February until July 2017. Entry to the exhibition is free.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Artist Commission - Wakefield Museum Learning Zone Display


Wakefield Council Museum Service has been successful in securing funding from Arts Council England for a project to commission an artist or cultural organisation to create an open display in Wakefield Museum’s Learning Zone. This display will contain objects from the museums extensive handling collection and will be co-curated in partnership with people who have not visited Wakefield Museum before.

We are looking for an artist to use our handling collections as inspiration to create a beautifully engaging display that incorporates the potential for visitors to interact with the display. Combining artistic practice, be it sculpture or multi-media or painting, with museum objects to wow, thrill and surprise our visitors.   Take this opportunity to amaze us with ideas that allow people to engage with museum collections in a different way.

Wakefield Council’s museum handling collection

Wakefield Council holds over 110,000 historic objects, which tell the stories of the people, places, events and activities of the residents of and visitors to the Wakefield District, from prehistoric times to the present day.  Part of the collection (around 4000 objects) is designated as a ‘handling collection’.  This has objects as diverse as a lion’s skull, a Victorian mouse trap, wind-up toys, household equipment and roman oil lamps.


The successful project will work to co-curate the display with people who have not visited Wakefield Museum before, bearing in mind the diverse nature of the Wakefield District and those people who may face barriers accessing the museum. It will be the responsibility of the selected artists / organisation to identify, recruit and liaise with this group of people.

Learning Zone

The Learning Zone is situated in Wakefield Library, in Wakefield One.  It is used by the Museums learning team to deliver learning sessions to a wide range of audiences.  The display will be placed by the glass wall linking the Learning Zone to the library so needs to be viewable from both sides, acting as a partial screen, and accessed from within the Learning Zone.  We expect the installation to project into the room no more than about 0.5m. An image of the space can be provided upon request.

Display Area: Learning Zone Windows

Project timetable:  Display to open by the end of June 2017.

Project budget: up to £2500

This budget covers fee and delivery of the following: 
  • Object selection (in conjunction with museum staff)
  • The  formation and construction of a visually interesting display using the selected museum objects (to include display materials)
  • Recruitment of and sessions working with your selected group
  • Graphic interpretation explaining the installation (text writing, proof reading, image selection and sourcing, graphic design and production)
  • Text and image selection for marketing material (marketing material will be created by Wakefield Council)
  • Regular updates of progress
  • Installation of display, staff briefing.
Object selection, text content, graphic design and display techniques to be signed off by Wakefield Council museum team.

Please note that in the interest of conservation you cannot:
  • Dismantle objects without agreement
  • Use non-conservation grade adhesives and fixings 
How to apply:

If you are interested in submitting a proposal please provide the following information:
  • An outline of your idea, including what group of people you will be working with and how you will recruit them to the project.
  • A breakdown of budget (including a clear indication of your fee).
  • A delivery timeline, featuring key dates for object selection, text writing, graphic design, production and installation.
  • An explanation as to how you would ensure the safe and appropriate display of the museum objects.
Email to  by 5pm on Friday 17 February

If you require further information about the project please contact Maya Harrison,, 01924 305350.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lots of exciting events!

We are very excited to have a wide range of events and activities coming up across the museums.

Our next is a talk on the intriguing mystery that is the Tanshelf pottery collection, now on display at Pontefract Museum.  On Thursday 19 January, you will be able to hear about the project from someone directly involved - Janet McNaught.

Families are spoiled for choice over the half term, with something different to do every day! A selection of what is on offer is available in our handy Activity Planner. 
Click on the image below to open!
Click on image to open the planner
Castleford is hosting it's popular Iron Age Day on Saturday 18 February, with fierce warrior face-painting, storytelling and crafts.
We are then really excited about a presentation and dinner being hosted in Create Café - next to the museum.  The ever-popular History Wardrobe will be performing one of their fabulous presentations - Jolly Hockey Sticks - about school days and school stories, followed by a tasty twist on a school dinner from Create.
It should be a fantastic evening!

- and that's all just for starters!

There's lots more listed in our What's On - from a butter and cheese making workshop for adults, to iPad animation sessions for families.  Do have a look at our What's On guide below - or pick one up from any of the museums.
Click on image to open!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

An Experience in the Exhibits

Recently, we hosted three Primary Education students from Leeds Trinity University for a two-week placement.

Kaisha and Oliver are specialising in Key Stage 2 (later years) whilst Jenny is studying early years (to age 7). 

This blog post was written by them.

For many years both research and experience has shown teachers that there is huge value in taking children out of the classroom to learn in an alternative context. As trainee teachers we have been fortunate enough to witness this first hand during our time at Wakefield Museums.
Over the past two weeks we have shadowed Learning Officer, Louise Bragan as she delivers some of Wakefield Museums’ wide range of workshops, including 1940s housewife, Greek pottery and Charles Waterton. We have seen how these workshops support and enhance learning across a number of curriculum areas and in ways which are as inspirational as they are unexpected!

The 1940s housewife workshop is popular with Year 5 and 6 classes. It offers an alternative insight to learning about the Second World War by focussing on daily life for a lady and her children living in Ossett, a small local town. Children (and teaching students) are surprised by how little food was available under rationing, demonstrated in a very stark way by ‘Dorothy’, Louise’s character for the workshop (and her real life grandma!). It was fascinating to see how children responded to the effects of war when told from a local perspective, when much of what they had absorbed so far had been about dates and important figures.  After speaking to Dorothy children had the opportunity to look at real ration books, identity cards, gas masks and other papers and paraphernalia associated with life at that time. Oliver and Kaisha were inspired to create a series of handouts to accompany each item for teachers to use in future lessons.
World War 2 Ration book, identity card and Women's Voluntary Service scarf and hat (below) used in the workshop

In the Charles Waterton workshop children learn about the local eccentric who created the first nature reserve, rode a caiman and used pioneering taxidermy methods to create monstrosities with a political message.  As expected, this workshop directly relates to the history national curriculum, but Louise also provides a wonderful literacy link. Children follow in the footsteps of Charles by using a quill and ink to write with. It was fascinating as a student teacher to observe how children reacted to this task – speaking to their teachers it was clear that children who are usually reluctant writers embraced the alternative medium, some producing notably higher quality work with the quill that in pencil at school.
This workshop inspired Jenny to create a teachers' pack which will be used to support teachers and other accompanying adults to help children get the most out of a visit to the exhibit.
John Bull and the National Debt - one of Waterton's crazy creatures

Children get to handle a real crocodile skull as part of the workshop
The Greek Pottery workshop saw us take the learning into school. We were as amazed as the year 6 class that we were able to not only see, but also touch, pick up, smell and examine the 3000 year old jugs and urns that make up a small part of the Museum’s extensive handling collection. The sense of awe and wonder shown by  children who got to hold these and other objects during our visit, demonstrates the enormous value of museums and the use of objects, both as a way of connecting children with their past and sense of place and to learning across the curriculum.
We were fortunate enough to visit the museum stores as part of our placement – a huge warehouse filled with objects from the sublime to the ridiculous. I think we could all have lost many days to that fascinating place which was reminiscent of a scene from Indiana Jones! Objects formed an important part of our two weeks’ with Wakefield Museums: we were fortunate enough to receive training on how to use objects as a stimulus for learning and to see how this operated in practice. These skills will be invaluable to us as teachers in the future to help engage and inspire children across the curriculum.

Personal Reflections:
From a personal perspective history was always my favourite topic, so this alone already cemented my interest in this establishment. As formal as a museum might appear there was a great working environment with friendly staff (who offered to make coffee every 15 minutes with free parkin) and a relaxed atmosphere.

Working with children in an unfamiliar setting may appear daunting, but if the topic is something you are deeply engaged in, the time flies by. I’ve spent more time talking about a Kit-Kat wrapper to year 6s than I ever thought I would. Yes, that sounds incredibly tedious and boring but if history is your interest you’d be surprised! In short, if history or anything you know is at the museum that interests you, go for it, you might just learn that Kit-Kat wrappers were blue in the 1940s due to the shortage of milk and thus the colour change indicated that the traditional milk chocolate was temporally changed with dark chocolate. - Oliver

My experience of history at school was different to Oliver’s. I was bombarded with facts and figures, politicians, kings and queens and I found the whole subject boring and irrelevant. I love teaching younger children as the awe and wonder about the world which they have is wonderful and contagious. My time here at Wakefield Museums has taught me how I can bring history and a wide range of other subjects to life and make them meaningful to even young children by using objects and relating learning to their own experiences. I have spent two weeks in awe and wonder myself at all the amazing artefacts in the collection and how they can be used and I know that what I’ve learnt will make me a better teacher. - Jenny
Oliver and Jenny at the Museum Store - looking at a WWI diary with curator, John

Tear-jerking, awe-inspiring and truly inspirational…
No, this is not a review of the latest romantic comedy – it’s even better - it’s a review of my time at Wakefield Museum!

As a self-confessed history geek, the opportunity to handle artefacts spanning from Ancient Egypt to World War Two was something I couldn’t imagine passing up. On the very first day genuine tears were shed over a Victorian prison cell door because I was so fascinated by it and I imagine I probably cried more than any prisoner who ever had the misfortune to have been held behind it.

But that is the magic of museums for me, as through my time here I have loved being able to connect with a random miscellaneous object from the past and imagine the story behind each artefact. The handling collection contained a Victorian iron and a few wooden pegs, which could easily be overlooked or discarded by someone who was disinterested. Instead, the time we could spend with each artefact on this placement allowed my mind to wander and imagine who these items could have once belonged to.

Was it a young housekeeper or an ancient gran, fingers gnarled from a hard life? I’ll never know and that doesn’t really matter, it’s the element of not knowing in fact that makes it all the better because my wild thoughts will never be shut down or dismissed.
Through this time exploring I realised first-hand how powerful a journey of enquiry can be, and I feel I am now more keen than before to provide this opportunity to the children I will one day teach. The use of open-ended questioning and higher-order thinking is something we are frequently lectured about but it truly means nothing until you see it in practice, guiding the children towards forming their own opinions and interests regarding the past, its role in the present and how it can shape the future they will come to find themselves in - Kaisha