Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wakefield Museums wish you a very merry Christmas

To wish all of our lovely blog followers a Happy Christmas we’d like to take you on a whistle-stop tour of our Christmas related collections.

We have picked some of the more interesting and unusual items!!! 

Surely no Christmas tree is complete without a rabbit-child bauble. 

A festive pork pie poster.

Stuck for what to get Uncle Bob? How about a Christmas Biro?

And for your best friend ....

Kids...ask your parents

Father Christmas (and the Easter bunny????)

Cock-a-doodle Christmas

 The height of 1889 Christmas fashion

Greetings sincere

And now for the cats...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Castleford Forum Museum proves a hit with visitors

Castleford Forum Museum opened on Monday 9 December. Just over a week later we reflect on visitor's thoughts so far.

Visitors have been flocking to see the new museum and library at Castleford.  Some of the comments from visitors have included:

"Love the new building - really lovely"

"An excellent addition to Castleford, Thank You"

"Very interesting facts and displays."

"The kids enjoyed the museum"

"Really interesting, a lot of information in a small space.  Well thought out and displayed"

"The town really needed a facility like this.  Well done all the team who fought to make it reality."

"Worth every penny.  What the town has wanted for years.  Well done classy Cas."

"The museum is awesome to what it was.  As a Cas lass i love it."

"I really like your roman section, because it's my topic at school"

Front of House staff who work at Castleford Forum Museum have been enjoying hearing memories from visitors that have been inspired by the museum displays.  Many of the subjects explored in the displays are within living memory,  and the people of Castleford are full of wonderful tales of characters and experiences relating to what they see. 

"He used to live down our road" - about Gilligan's roundabout

"Arthur Atkinson was a legend, but was known to us kids as Uncle Arthur. He ended up working in the cinema"

We have also been given lots of pointers about objects on display, especially the pottery and glass pieces. Visitors have also been suggesting what we should add to the displays:

"Would like to see the history of Castleford Theatre, Bill & Ben and other famous residents"

Groups and individuals are invited to explore subjects they are interested in by getting involved with the curating of the community cases.  If you have any ideas about further displays please contact us 

A lovely moment came when a women recognised herself on one of the photos talking about the history of Queen's Mill.

"Oooh That's me!"

She then brought her friends back to see her on the Allinson's Lorry:

If you have not yet visited the new Castleford Forum Museum, do pop along and if you have already visited and liked what you saw then tell a friend to go!

Castleford Forum Library and Museum, Carlton Street, Castleford, WF10 1BB

Telephone - Museum: 01977 722084

Free Entry

Opening times

Monday - 9.30am to 5.30pm

Tuesday - 9.30 to 5.30

Wednesday closed

Thursday  -  9.30am to 7.00pm

Friday  - 9.30am to 5.30pm

Saturday - 9.30am to 4.00pm

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wakefield Museum has gone potty about Christmas!

The latest display to adorn the foyer of Wakefield Museum has been created with a seasonal theme.
A stunning selection of over 25 medieval pots have been displayed in a festive shape…

Here is the display being created (can you tell what it is yet?)

A selection of medieval pots from the museum collections

The first pots go in
It's taking shape

Just adding the finishing touches...

Ta da!

The theme of medieval pots was decided upon to support our new travelling pod display that is currently touring around Wakefield Libraries.  The travelling pod has been funded by the Wellcome Trust as part of the ‘You Are What You Ate’ project.  This project has produced three temporary exhibitions which have explored the theme of healthy eating in very different ways. The pod will spread the healthy eating message further as it is based on the three exhibitions.  You can see the pod at Airedale Library and Learning Centre until Monday 14 January, it will then be moving to South Elmsall library.

The travelling pod and the display at Wakefield Museum is part of the You Are What You Ate project, funded by the Wellcome Trust and in partnership with Wakefield Council, the University of Leeds and the University of Bradford. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

World War 1 Diary

At the beginning of 1918 George Kellett,  a soldier born in Wakefield, received a Christmas parcel which contained a Christmas cake, parkin, a few apples and a diary. George then recorded his year as a World War 1 soldier. His family donated his diary to Wakefield Museums.
The diary details George’s life as a soldier - letters from home, pay arrangements, games of draughts, getting ready for draft, working on a rifle range, digging trenches.

From January 2014 we will be tweeting George’s Diary entries.  Over the year this will build up a picture of what his experience was.  Follow the tweets at @WW1_Diary on Twitter.  We will also post a monthly digest of the diary entries on this blog.

George Kellett
We don’t know a great deal about George Kellett.  We have recently been in contact with his great niece and nephew, who have very kindly provided us with some photographs of George and his family.  We will be using these photos alongside the diary entries.  Over the next 12 months we hope to find out more about George and will be working with Wakefield Libraries Local Studies to this end.   

We do know that George was born in 1894, and at the time of the 1911 census he was living at 4 Bowman Street, Sandal. He apprenticed in 1909 as a joiner and married after he returned from war. 

George Kellett's wife

The diary has been transcribed by museum staff (a big thank you to Kathryn Groom), and has sometimes proved difficult to read!  Especially place names in France.  We are working to find out more information about places and details George mentions.

We hope that this project will provide an idea of what daily life was like for a First World War soldier. From the details about pay to how George spent his spare time, and from family news to the tasks of a soldier, this story will be a fascinating glimpse into the First World War.
There will be a further programme of activity to commemorate 100 years since the First World War, including an exhibition at Pontefract Museum. Follow this link for more info on The Great War Inspires

Follow George Kellett’s diary entries at @WW1_Diary on Twitter

Monday, December 9, 2013

Castleford Forum Library and Museum Opens today!

We are very pleased to announce that the new library and museum in Castleford Forum opens at 2pm today!
  • Henry Moore's early life.
  • Displays of archaeology from Bronze Age to Roman, including the amazing Iron Age Chariot.
  • Mining, Castleford glass and pottery - and the extraordinary images of the every-day by Jack Hulme.
  • Plus four community-curated displays:
    • Rugby, Victorian women's occupations, milling and beauty.
To celebrate the opening, we have a range of activities and events planned for the New Year.  
Explore the new library and museum - and get involved!

Alternate Thursdays
13 & 27 February, 13 & 27 March
Meet the Curator
10am to 12 noon
Bring in your objects for advice on their care and research, or to find out more about what is on display.

Friday 14 February
Meet the Henry Moore Curator
10am to 12 noon
A chance to meet the curator of the Henry Moore displays and discover more about the artist.

Saturday 15 February
Painted Pots
9.45 to 11am or 11.30 to 1pm - for families with children aged 7+
2 to 4pm - for adults and children aged 15+
Come and see the Castleford-made Art-Deco pottery, and work with an artist to decorate your own to be fired and collected later.
Booking essential as places are limited - call 01924 302700 or email.

Monday 17 February
Tribal Trinkets
11am to 2pm
Suitable for families with children aged 4-12
Castleford Museum has some jewellery worn by people of the Iron Age Brigantes tribe. At the drop-in craft session, you can make your own amazing Iron Age-style jewels to take home.

Thursday 20 February
From Mercury to Jupiter
11am to 2pm
Suitable for families with children aged 4-12
There were many gods and goddesses worshipped by the Romans. Come and see an original stone sculpture to one of these gods and create your own god or goddess. Please wear clothes you do not mind getting a bit messy!

Saturday 29 March
Roman Day!
10am- 3pm
The Romans are coming!  Comeand meet the Romans and find out how they lived in Castleford with fun activities for all the family.


For these and more FREE events, pop into the new Castleford Forum Library and Museum, and pick up a leaflet.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Family Fun!

This week saw the last Crafty Crocs of 2013.

Our theme was trees and wood. We looked in Wakefield Museum to find objects created out of wood.

Back in the Learning Zone our Crafty Crocs created some tree window decorations with tissue paper lights, a reindeer hat and to top our tree, our very own drinking straw star woven with wool.

Reindeer hat!

Christmas star!

Making a Christmas Tree

A finished tree!

These free sessions are run for 2-5 year olds at Wakefield Museum - creative fun inspired by the museum collections!

The next session takes place on Tuesday 7th January - booking is essential as places are limited.  Call 01924 302700 or email.

We have also started taking bookings for our February half-term workshops:

Tribal Trinkets
Monday 17 February 2014
Castleford Forum Museum
Ages 4-12 years
Make your own amazing Iron Age-style jewels to take home.
Drop-in activity. No need to book.

Sculpture Culture
Tuesday 18 February 2014
Wakefield Museum & Learning Zone
11am-12.30pm or 1.30pm-3pm
Ages 6-12 years
This is your chance to make your own stupendous sculpture using inspiration from our sculptures 
Booking essential.

Wednesday 19 February 2014
Pontefract Museum
Ages 4-12 years
Did you know Florence Nightingale almost married a man from Pontefract? Learn about the famous nurse and make a Florence Nightingale lamp to take home. 
Drop-in activity. No need to book.

Wattle and Daub
Wednesday 19 February 2014
Pontefract Castle
10.30am-12pm or 1pm-2.30pm
Ages 5-12 years
Have a go at making a wattle and daub panel using traditional materials. Please wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy! 
Booking essential.

From Mercury to Jupiter
Thursday 20 February 2014
Castleford Forum Museum
Ages 4-12 years
Come and see an original Roman sculpture, then create your own god or goddess.
Drop-in activity. No need to book.

Dippy Candles
Friday 21 February 2014
Sandal Castle
10.30am-12pm or 1pm-2.30pm
Ages 6-12 years
Come and dip your own candle.
Please wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy!
Booking essential.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Friday 21 February 2014
Wakefield Museum & Learning Zone
10.30am-11.30am or 1.30pm-2.30pm
Ages 2-5 years
Come and look at hair in a whole new way.
Please wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy!
Booking essential.

For further information or to book your free place (numbers are limited)

Please contact us on: 01924 302700 or email

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Great War Inspires at Pontefract Museum

This year Wakefield Museums were successful in securing funding from Arts Council England to deliver a two year development project to build stronger museums. As part of this we have commissioned Faceless Company to deliver a project using museum collections to inspire an artwork and exhibition to commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of World War One.
Faceless Company have written this guest blog explaning in more detail their plans for the project:

Faceless Arts are pleased to have been commissioned by Wakefield Council to develop an exhibition for Pontefract Museum with involvement from the local community. Inspired by World War One the project ‘The Great War Inspires’, will bring together people from the Pontefract community to help create four large wall hangings, which will become part of an exhibition which can be seen at the museum from 25th January 2014.
Work has already begun on the commission, with artists, Stephanie James, Helen Thomas and Tony Wade preparing at Faceless Base for the community workshops; and working with inspiring images to inform the final artwork. Tony and Helen told us a little bit about how they came up with ideas for the staging of the final exhibition.
‘Researching for this project we were struck by the scale of the conflict, from the vast numbers of casualties and geographical spread to the unimaginable short distances between some of the trenches on the battlefields.
According to John Hamilton in "Trench Fighting of World War I", (ABDO, 2003), the shortest recorded distance between German and British trenches was near Zonnebeke in Belgium. The opposing trenches were separated by a distance of approximately 7 metres (23 feet).
When planning this exhibition we were given the dimensions of the Temporary Exhibition Space at Pontefract Museum. The length of the room is 8m. So we have set off with the intention of interpreting that space, the space between the conflicting sides, and wanting the viewer to stand at one side of the room a look across a 7m gap. ‘

An idea of what the final piece may look like
We will begin the community workshops in Pontefract on 10th December and plan to work with groups as diverse as The British Legion, Air Cadets and the Pontefract Live at Home Scheme. We are excited to be working with several new groups such as Pontefract’s Air Cadets and the Royal Air Force Association.
Taking inspiration from the silk handkerchiefs from the museum’s collection of World War One artefacts, artists will support participants to create their own silk paintings using imagery from the Great War. These paintings will then be cut and woven together to create the wall hangings for the exhibition. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore artefacts from the museum’s WW1 collection and discuss their own thoughts and experiences of warfare today and 100 years ago. Part of our project work with participatory groups will look at people’s experiences of conflict at home and on active service today, and in the past, in comparison to the First World War. These personal and social insights, along with stories from local people who experienced the First World War, will help to inform the art works and provide a soundtrack to the exhibition. 
A silk handkerchief from dating from 1914 - 1918 from Wakefield Museums collections.
We hope that the final exhibition will commemorate the Great War and immerse the audience in the experience, inspiring the myriad of feelings that such a wide ranging and terrible conflict can inspire. We plan on transforming the space to evoke a ‘No Man’s Land’ and explore all sides of the war, through music, poetry and the stories of local people both at home and in battle.  During The Battle of the Somme, it is said that some 60,000 men died within a single day, to put this into context, the population of Pontefract is 28,000.
Through this commission, we will explore the issues and themes of the Great War with people living locally to the exhibition, and perhaps most importantly, ‘we will remember them’.
For updates on this project follow on Twitter @MyWakefield #TGWI


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Moustache Maintenance

Guest blogger: Percy Tew's moustache

Hello friends, you may remember me from my previous ‘guest blog’ (Moustache Musings).  I have been invited by Wakefield Museums to instruct Movember moustache wearers on how to maintain perfect facial hair.
If you do not recall my previous moustache musings, allow me to introduce myself.  I am the bushy bristles residing on the upper lip of the venerable banker Percy Tew.
The venerable banker Percy Tew and I
I am here to instruct all you fine gentlemen on the best way to care for your whiskers.  As you can see, Mr Percy Tew keeps me in fine fettle - perfectly shaped, bushy, dignified yet manly. Even if I do say so myself I am a fine example of facial hair.

Let us start with shaving. First and foremost you must invest in the best razors you can afford.  I recommend razors made by Sheffield cutlers Joseph Rodgers (they were granted a royal warrant in 1822 - so quality is guaranteed).  Mr Tew uses this luxury set.  Each razor is inscribed with a day of the week.  This allows the blade to ‘rest’ between shavings keeping it sharp and in tip top condition.  There is a new invention that has recently come onto the market - the safety razor - I am yet to be convinced of its ability to give a close shave; I believe it to be a flash in the pan.
Mr Tew's luxury razor set
In order to create a good thick and bushy moustache I would recommend the use of ‘Bears Grease’.  This amazing product, made from the fat of the brown bear mixed with beef marrow and perfume, creates a good thick strand, and I think you will agree that it has delivered those results for Mr Tew.  Bears' Grease is an exclusive product, so those of you who do not enjoy the financial benefits that banking brings to a man, you can make your own version by mixing suet with beef marrow.  Now add scents to your pleasure.  May I suggest oil of lavender or a touch of oil of thyme?

Now that you have achieved bushy strands you must strive to ensure that your moustache remains in perfect shape.  This can be done with the liberal application of moustache wax and frequent brushing with a moustache brush.  You can see below an example of a fine moustache brush.  I would also recommend the use of a moustache snood.  This rather clever invention is a wide length of lightweight fabric (ask your dear wives to source this for you) cut to accommodate the nose, worn over the head at night.  You wake in the morning to a perfectly formed moustache. 
I will now tackle a rather delicate matter. For those of you who are entering the later stages of life and your once resplendent dark hair is on the turn to a paler grey, there is a solution.  This miraculous recipe will have you looking like a young man again.  It works on all hair types.
Take 3 parts of litharge and 2 of quicklime, both in an impalpable powder, and mix them carefully. When used, a portion of the powder is mixed with hot water or milk, and applied to the hair, the part being afterwards enveloped in oil-skin, or a cabbage-leaf, for 4 or 5 hours.
No one will ever notice, that I can guarantee.
Dear friends I have imparted my most agreeable tips for the perfect moustache. I send my deepest regard to those of you who are sporting facial hair in the name of Movember.
Let me add that the good people at Wakefield Museum are hosting a splendid event in celebration of men’s hair on Wednesday 27 November 5.00 – 7.30pm.  I implore you to call in and experience the grand entertainment.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Staff highlights tour of Wakefield Museum

Some of you may have already had a go at some of the family digitrails in Wakefield Museum - fun quizzes and trails using units which use sound, video and photos to explore the collection.


We now have another addition to our digitrail options - our staff highlights trail.

Several of the museum staff, including designer, curator, front-of-house and more have chosen their favourite object on display, and recorded a short film telling you about it in more detail.

The trails are very easy to use, and are free.  Just ask one of our Visitor Hosts to set you up with a machine and headphones and discover more about the collection!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hair Do

What do handlebars, Mexicans, pencils and toothbrushes all have in common? They are all names of moustache styles. A well groomed and super smart exhibition opened recently at Wakefield Museum - ‘Men in the Mirror’ explores men’s hair in all its glory!

In celebration of marvelous moustaches, bushy beards and happening haircuts we are holding a grand Hurrah for hair at our Men in The Mirror Hair-Do.

Drop into Wakefield Museum for an evening of free entertainment including barbershop style music, traditional barbering displays, and plenty of facial hair frolics!  Plus a short play inspired by the exhibition written and performed by Yew Tree Youth Theatre.
There will also be special large screen showings of the ‘Barber’s Boy’ – a specially commissioned film celebrating the life and work of local barber extraordinaire David Grice.

This event forms part of the Wakefield Artwalk.
Free admission to event and activities.
Wednesday 27 November
5.00 – 7.30pm

Wakefield Museum, Wakefield One, Burton Street, Wakefield, WF1 2DD

My hair was slicked down with a part. But that was before I discovered the blow-dryer. Now I'm fabulous. Barry Manilow

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Castleford Forum Museum previewed by YACs

Today the Pontefract Branch of the Young Archaeologists' Club came for a special preview of Castleford Forum Museum in order to write a review for December's Young Archaeologist Magazine.

The group of YACs were introduced to the archaeology of Castleford and its surroundings - an area incredibly rich in finds, before handling some Roman objects from our handling collection, and trying out one of our new Roman archaeology quiz sheets.

The Young Archaeologists Club looked at some amazing objects

Using iPods, the YACs then photographed their 3 favourite objects, noting the reasons for their choices.

A wide range of objects were chosen, and for a wide range of reason, including:

Roman gaming counters - because 'I like board games', 'It looks like one of our games'
Roman chatelaine - because 'It's really unusual', 'It's amazing!'
Roman sandal - because 'It is in such good condition for how old it is', 'The pattern is really unusual'
Roman tile with paw print - because 'It reminds me of my dog', 'It shows that the Romans may have had pets, like us', 'Because it's amazing to see that a dog left its mark'
By far, the group's most favourite thing was the Iron Age Chariot burial, which amazed everyone ('It is a very dramatic object' 'The person must have been of great importance to have been buried in such a manner' 'It shows great craft skill')

Iron Age Chariot Burial

The group were then asked what they wanted to tell other YACs about the new museum, and they said:

  • I would recommend this museum to all other YACs
  • It has amazing finds and interesting artefacts
  • You need to take your time and look carefully to take it all in
  • It can teach you lots just by looking - but if you have questions, do ask the staff rather than go away wondering!
  • The museum is very beautifully arranged
  • The Iron Age Chariot burial is AMAZING!
So we think they liked it!

We then had a go at building replica Iron Age Chariots.  The scaled-down chariots were powered by balloons rather than miniature horses, but the principles remained the same - a fixed axle and spinning wheels...

Building a model chariot!

Adding the fixed axle...

Chariot racing!

Chariot racing!

A huge thanks to the Pontefract Young Archaeologists for coming and trying out the new museum!
The local branch of YACs is based at Pontefract castle, meeting once a month on the second Saturday.   Sessions are all on an archaeological theme, including craft skills, practical archaeological skills, and plenty of fun! There are usually several opportunities each year to take part in real archaeology, either within the club itself or via connected organisations.  

For more information email or call 01924 223373