Wednesday, December 31, 2014

George Kellett's World War One Diary: December 1918

Throughout 2014 have been tweeting entries from a World War 1 soldier’s 1918 diary. You can follow George Kellett’s diary entries on Twitter @WW1_Diary.

This is the last month's diary entries.

For George Kellett's November diary entries please see our previous blog: November 1918 

Sunday 1 December 1918
ED again today

Wednesday 4 December 1918
Left Malonne for Sclayn

Thursday 5 December 1918
Left Sclayn for Huy

Friday 6 December 1918
Left Huy for Ouffet  about 22 kilos

Saturday 7 December 1918
Left Ouffet for Soumagne about 23 kilos

Sunday 8 December 1918
Left  Soumagne at 9am for Becco about 8 or 9 kilos

Monday 9 December 1918
Left Becco for Longfaye a march of 23 miles

Tuesday 10 December 1918
No march today a day of resting

Wednesday 11 December 1918
Left Longfaye at 8am Elsenborn

Friday 13 December 1918
Left Kesternich for ?

Saturday 14 December 1918
Arrived at Duren

Tuesday 15 December 1918
Making bread sticks for the company.  Went down town after went in a café for a supper where they had a violin and piano.  Had a good time.

Thursday 17 December 1918
Out for a short march from 10am to noon

Wednesday 25 December 1918
Had dinner in the gym a jolly good food.

Saturday 28 December 1918
No parade standing by to make Rifle Racks for the barracks

Sunday 29 December 1918
No parade again today but have not started work yet.  Went to church service in the town tonight with Cpt Palmer.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Our Christmases, hectic though they may be, are actually a doddle compared to the traditions of old. Medieval people celebrated all 12 days of Christmas, from December 25 through to Epiphany – the day the three kings turned up with gifts for the newborn Jesus – although they did not usually feast every day. Some households had their big feast on Christmas Day. For others it was the first of January or the 6th, depending on local custom.

"The Twelve days of Christmas" song was first published in 1780,  without music.  The tune we all know coming much  later in 1909.

We have introduced 12 objects from our collections into Wakefield Museum's displays (please note, the museum is now closed until 9am on 5th January).

'A partridge in a pear tree'  - Partridge from natural history collection

"Two Turtle Doves" - Unmarked, Dunderdale stoneware teapot

"Three French hens" - Christmas card decorated with image of hen and roses.
"Four Collie Birds" - Blackbird from the Waterton Collection - the word 'collie' coming from collier, meaning black

"Five gold rings"- 500 year old ring with wording 'I'm all yours' in medieval French from Sandal Castle

"Six geese a-laying" - Painted wooden fan made with goose feathers

"Seven swans a-swimming" - Valentine card given to Frances Eliza Waddington c. 1880

"Eight maids a-milking" - Milk can produced 1910-15 with  J.C.B. trade mark

"Nine ladies dancing"  - Victorian lady's dance card and pencil made by Faber -  dated 24th February 1876

"Ten lords a-leaping" -   A ceramic bust of Lord Derby

"Eleven pipers piping"  - Wooden pipe with metal ring top and bottom

"Twelve Drummers Drumming" - Tin drum used by  Professor Stafford who taught Punch and Judy in the 1950s

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Roman 'Christmas' event at Castleford Museum

 A special event  at Castleford Forum Museum this Saturday - Saturnalia.

Saturnalia is the best-known Roman festival which ran from  17th to 23rd December.
It was a time of gift-giving, feasting, and time to  decorate the house with greenery - sound familiar?

Come to Castleford Museum between 10 and 3pm this Saturday to find out how the Romans celebrated!  Meet a Roman soldier, hear some Roman stories and make yourself a Roman mosaic coaster to take home - the perfect last-minute Christmas gift!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Vintage Christmas!

Need some inspiration for a Christmas party?   Tired using the same old decorations?   Just got too much time on your hands?

Have a look at this 1950s publication from our collection, and party with style!

Who  doesn't have room in their heart for a Jolly Snowman?

I'm sure you've all got time to sew together pieces of red crepe paper to make a Father Christmas hat!

Head on a plate, anyone?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Much-loved painting of Pontefract Castle to be seen in a different light!

One of Pontefract Museum’s most well-loved paintings is to undergo vital restoration work ahead of a new Civil War exhibition.

The painting of Pontefract Castle by Alexander Keirincx, which has been part of Wakefield Council’s art collections for 50 years, was taken off display today to undergo specialist conservation treatment and be glazed to protect it for the future.
The Keirincx comes off display

Packed by a specialist art and museum transport service -  the painting leaves for conservation

Following conservation work, the Keirincx painting will be on display at The Hepworth Wakefield before its appearance in a new Civil War exhibition at Pontefract Museum in Spring 2015.

Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said: “This is one of the most popular and well-loved paintings in the Museum and the restoration work will ensure it can be enjoyed by people now and by future generations.”

While at The Hepworth Wakefield, the painting will be part of a display celebrating the unique heritage of Wakefield and the wider region.

The newly refreshed painting will be display at The Hepworth Wakefield from Saturday 24th January 2015.

Then it will return to Pontefract Museum as the star attraction for the Civil Wars in Yorkshire exhibition from mid-April 2015.

The new exhibition is funded by the Arts Council England, and will explore the Civil Wars in Yorkshire. With unique civil war objects from the museum’s collections this will be a fitting display for the return of the Keirincx  which will take pride of place.

Keirincx’s painting of Pontefract Castle gives a rare and priceless insight into the past before the Castle was demolished by order of Parliament in 1649. This once grand castle was nicknamed the ‘key to the North’ and according to the National Gallery, the painting is the best example of a painting of a British castle in existence.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

George Kellett's World War One Diary: November 1918

Throughout 2014 have been tweeting entries from a World War 1 soldier’s 1918 diary. You can follow George Kellett’s diary entries on Twitter @WW1_Diary.

We will also post the full month’s diary entries on this blog.

For George Kellett's October diary entries please see our previous blog: October 1918

3 November 1918
On roads 11:20 to 4:30pm were shelled badly in sunken(?) road. Heavy rain until dinnertime

4 November 1918
Moved to Villers Poll Through Escarmain and Capelle

5 November 1918
Our Dear Ada Died at 12-10am.

9 November 1918
Our Dear Ada Burried at Sandal church at 2pm

11 November 1918
Moved to Bermeries We heard that an armistice had been signed but we keep hearing explosions and cannot tell whether it is gun fire or not.

16 November 1918
Warned for guard at 4pm this afternoon

17 November 1918
On guard today

18 November 1918
Moved at 9am for Maubeuge passing through Bavay, ???  and La Longueville billeted in barracks in the fort.

19 November 1918
Fire picquet and transport fatigue

20 November 1918
Moved to Peissant through  [??] and Binche[?]

22 November 1918
Left Peissant at 8am arrived at Anderlues About 3pm

23 November 1918
Received parcel from home with this book enclosed.  Working on the roads today about six kilos from our billets.  Wrote to Harry and father.

24 November 1918
Out on the roads again today from 8am to 1:30pm. Parade at 5:30pm. Had ??

25 November 1918
Left Anderlues At 9:45am for Charleroi. Arrived about 3pm.  Billeted in private houses.  Had a good feed of chips for supper slept in a good bed between clean white sheets.

26 November 1918
Parade at 9am.  Went to school at 10am.  Went into town after dinner and to the cinema after tea.  Had a bath at one of the collieries  It is a fine town is Charleroi

27 November 1918
Parade at 9am till 12noon

28 November 1918
Left Charleroi at 8am for Fosse

29 November 1918
Left Fosse at 9am for Malonne near Namur
Formed up on the Square at 2:30 to hear the Burgomaster read out a message of welcome

30 November 1918
Reported sick had excused duty laid in bed all day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Get out of the house and do something creative!

A post from Louise, our Crafty Crocs leader:

As a toddler and young child of the late 1970s and early 1980s I remember there being much more hands-on activities and play then there seems to be today.

Louise -  a *few* years ago...
There are still many playgroups in church halls and community venues today but how many people think of taking their youngsters to the museum for a couple of hours?

Now, as back then, many parents and grandparents are looking for fun activities for their children to participate in at a minimal cost.  Something they can not provide at home. TV has programmes for children all hours of the day, channels for different ages and whilst I am guilty myself of cracking on with the housework and telling the kids “put the tv on whilst I get this done” I can not recall my own parents telling me to do this. In fact quite the opposite – Why don’t you get the pencils out and draw? Go in the garden and make the most of the weather.  Lets make a picnic and have it indoors (it was raining outside!)

Louise - showing her artistic ability at a young age
Here at Wakefield Museum we deliver a session of messy crafts, Crafty Crocs, which meet on the first Tuesday of every month.  The aim of this free session is for children and their grown-ups to come and be creative away from home (and the tv). Using the Learning Zone we set up different activities each month so that children can explore the museum collections and develop skills such as sensory enquiry and even just mastering the art of using scissors!

Crafty Crocs sessions are developed with ideas from the museum display as inspiration. For example the Waterton displays in the museum provide links to animals and nature, we draw animals using our hands and feet.  The museum Front Room enables us to look at activities related to home life in the past – we used plastic cutlery to paint.


So why not come and join us at our next Crafty Crocs?

Sessions run at 10 - 11am and 1:15 – 2:15pm on the first Tuesday of the month during term time.

Our next sessions are  on Tuesday 2nd December. 

To book your place call 01924 302700 or e-mail 

Remember to wear messy clothes and feel free to bring your child a drink and small snack - in case they need more energy!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Collection Highlight - My Darling's Dollcraft

This doll belonged to a Castleford girl called Edith Wyatt, who sadly died aged twelve in 1944.

In the middle of the 1900s, most dolls played with in Britain were made in Germany – a supply that stopped when the Second World War started (1939 – 1945). This one was made in Britain. What is particularly nice about it is that the clothes, hair and face had to be stitched on by its owner. This shows the wartime attitude of learning new skills and doing it for yourself.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wakefield Museum: The 'Place'ment to be!

Our names are Charlotte and Naadiya, we are students from Leeds Trinity University and have been undertaking a two-week placement at Wakefield Museum to support our course.


We are Studying Primary Education and are here to experience education in an alternative setting. During the course of these two weeks, we have been able to see the ways in which museums contribute to education, and the fascinating methods that they use when carrying out their workshops. We have been lucky enough to observe and support a variety of workshops, including outdoor tours at Sandal Castle, World War One and Ancient Egyptian Artefacts workshops. Not only was the content of these workshops extremely interesting, but we had the opportunity to handle some of the original artefacts, such as an Ancient Egyptian Shabti dating back to nearly 3000 years!
Ancient Egyptian Shabti
Carrying out our placement at Wakefield Museum allowed us to see how they make their workshops cross-curricular, not simply focussing on the history aspect that many museums specialise in. For example, delivering a workshop on World War One where the children created a diary entry, rather than just focussing on the history.

Pupils from Wakefield Methodist (VC) J. I. and N. School examining WW1 artefacts

During our time here, we had the opportunity to prepare our own workshop on World War One posters. This enabled us to experience the process that the education staff at the museum go through in order to create their workshops.  We found it was a long and lengthy process but very interesting, especially carrying out the research to support the workshops. By assisting in this research, we were able to look at ancestry websites and create links to the local area – this definitely made us feel like detectives!

WW1 Recruitment Poster

We ran two sessions of our workshop and although the content was the same, the sessions were slightly different. This highlighted how flexible you have to be with workshops as no two classes are the same, and each session has to be tailored around that group of children to meet their individual needs. The feedback we received was positive on the whole and we were told that the museum is going to develop and use our workshop in the future which we are both very proud of.

If you ask us what our favourite part of this placement was, it would have to be the WW1 workshop when we saw a reading of the diary of George Kellett, an army solider from Wakefield during WW1.  The actor playing George adopted his role well to engage not just the students, but the adults too.  This session was not only interesting and informative, but also entertaining.
Pupils from Wakefield Methodist (VC) J. I. and N. School meet 'George Kellett'
It’s safe to say we have lost count of the amount of times we have said ‘Wow!’ in these past couple of weeks! We are grateful for this opportunity and to all the staff who have helped us and would happily bring our future pupils to this museum. We would definitely recommend a placement here!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bonfire toffee, or toffee apples?

Reflections on Bonfire Night have caused a bit of a dispute between museums and libraries this year.

No arguments over sparklers:

Child with sparkler  - 1950-1970 from Maud's Photographic Studio, Pontefract

Or indeed over the size of  the bonfire:

Bonfire Stack at Sandal Castle for the Coronation of George V  - 1911

The discussion (as usual!) was entirely about food.  

What is your traditional bonfire night treat?

A cup of hot soup, pie and peas, parkin...

A toffee apple perhaps? 
Children eating toffee apple and banana,  1930s

Or the real contention - the merits (and failings!) of Bonfire Toffee...

Silver toffee hammer used in a window display in a sweet shop on the corner of Northgate and Rishworth Street, 1930-1950

 What is your preferred treat?  We'd love to know!

Friday, October 31, 2014

George Kellett's World War One Diary: October 1918

Throughout 2014 have been tweeting entries from a World War 1 soldier’s 1918 diary. You can follow George Kellett’s diary entries on Twitter @WW1_Diary.

We will also post the full month’s diary entries on this blog.

For George Kellett's September diary entries please see our previous blog: September 1918 

6 October 1918
Emma father Harry and I went to church this morning to our Harvestineal 

11 October 1918
Left home about 8:45pm left Kirkgate at 9:15.  Stayed at Normanton for an hour with  Emma’s cousin 

17 October 1918
Passed the Batt at Rurmelly 

18 October 1918
Working on the roads at [?] 

20 October 1918
Moved today to St. Vaast through St.Hilare 

21 October 1918
Out working on the roads 

23 October 1918
Moved into new billet in St.Python 

25 October 1918
Moved to Vertain

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Day in the Life

A lot goes into making our museums wonderful places to visits and caring for our collections. This series of blogs invites staff at Wakefield Museums to tell you about their day. 

John Whitaker

Museums curatorial and collections officer

Well the pressure is on here. I have been asked to write about a day at work for the blog and I’ve just read Ali’s entry Alison Creasey Day in the Life from last time. How do I compete with rainforest day?

Get into work at Wakefield One, quickly check emails, have coffee, spring into life

Meet artist Harriet Lawson and drive over to our off site stores.

Harriet is a very talented artist who we have commissioned to create an art work in one of the showcases in the upper atrium of Wakefield One. She works mainly with pottery and textile and will be using the museums pottery collections to inspire her display.

Rummaging through the pottery collections at stores

Our stores are a treasure trove. Museums tend to have more stuff than there is room to display and also some of the collection is very sensitive and will fade if on display for too long and so we need somewhere to store it. It’s a warehouse building and a bit like the end scene of  Raiders of the Lost Ark except I have not yet found the Ark of the Covenant in the collections (you never know though – I have not yet been in every box)

Anyway we have lots of pottery for Harriet to look through, the project focusses on everyday pottery rather than artwork so we picked out some pieces made in Castleford and Ferrybridge as well as plates and teapots from our social history collection, and early Roman and medieval examples. She is interested in getting a complimentary colour pattern so there is a lot of toing and froing. She photographs the chosen items.

Harriet Lawton selecting pieces

Harriet particularly like the pieces which are chipped and worn as they really show that the objects have lived a full life before they came to the museum for retirement – she does take this to the extreme though as she really liked a Chinese plate which is broken in two (broken and repaired BEFORE it came into the museum collection I should add, the old repair has failed!)

Back to Wakefield Museum for lunch – a sad sandwich today.

Back on the road this time over to Pontefract Museum

2:00pm – 4:00pm Meet the Curator
I’m covering Meet the Curator at Pontefract Museum this afternoon. The Meet the Curator afternoons are designed as an opportunity for visitors to bring in treasures they have at home to show a museum curator – to be dated, identified or offered to the museum collections. Our collection is built on generous donations from local people since the first objects came to us in the 1920s. Our criteria for collecting is that they are related to or can tell us stories about people who have lived and or worked in the Wakefield district – and we have not already got examples of them in the collection already. We are definitely sorted for flat irons, radios, mangles, dolly tubs and commemorative royal pottery!

This afternoon is as eventful as ever – an interesting Chinese blue and white pot for identification and Roman coin which turned out to be a copy this time.

In between enquiries I also help our museum designer Andrew Marsland display a First World War British officer’s  jacket in the foyer at Pontefract Museum. The jacket is quite unusual as it displays officer stripes on the sleeves, something which was toned down very early in the war because it identified officers to the enemy and made them a target. The display is part of the many activities we have developed to commemorate the beginning of the First World War. We have a Great War Trail at Wakefield Museum which includes a jar of pickled plums, a decorated biscuit and a watch worn in the trenches to time going over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The subject of the war is difficult to balance. It is a commemoration not a celebration but sometimes it is important to finds the chinks of light in the darkness.

Andrew Marsland working on a First World War jacket for display

Back to Wakefield 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Collection highlights: England's weather vanes

A post for a windy day!

For generations England’s Ironmongers was an institution in Pontefract’s Market Place. 

Behind the ornate terracotta façade (that is now WH Smith) was England's “white” or tinsmith, who made ladles, boxes and even weather vanes.

Tin templates for weather vanes from England's, Pontefract. 

These templates were part of a range on offer to clients. The large tree stump used as an anvil is also been kept in the museum’s collections.  We even have a small pair of framed slates on which the tinsmith had chalked out a list of his day’s work not knowing that he would be killed by a heart attack on that very day.

In the liquorice works of the town “Spanish Lasses” (as the workers were known) used metal shovels to mix the different “allsorts” sweets. As the shovel wore away, work became a little easier. But when replacing the blade at England’s tinsmith could no longer be put off, the work became harder again, as the blade was its full heavy thickness once more.

Few ornate weather vanes survive locally. The one on Pontefract Town Hall is a modern replacement that is out of scale with the Georgian building. Pontefract racecourse and Nostell Priory both once had elaborate weather vanes. “Father Time” at Lords cricket pavilion is now a bit of a national icon and if you visit Whitby the gold salmon on the Georgian town hall is beautiful!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Collection highlight: Shoes from the 1700s


We’re not sure exactly how old the shoes are, but costume source books say that they were probably made between about 1714 and 1760. Like many shoes of the time, they are made of fabric (silk?). Shoes like these didn't last long as they were so delicate. Women often wore overshoes called pattens to protect their shoes. 

You can see how this patten fits this shoe exactly. The patten is made from hand-stitched leather as well as the same fabric as the shoe.

A fairly rich woman probably owned these shoes, and didn't wear them much at all! Wealthy women never had to walk far and wore restrictive clothes that made physical movement difficult.

In the 1700s, wealthy Britons’ clothes were influenced by French fashions. Corsets (stays) squeezed women’s bodies into fashionable shapes. Their pinched waists looked even smaller because their skirts stuck out over wide hooped panniers worn on the hips.

These shoes are currently on  display at Wakefield Museum in our Style Picks exhibition (until the end of January).

For an amazing view of another  of our Georgian shoes (1740-1740) see the image below created for us by Microform Imaging Ltd.

Click on the image and use your mouse to rotate the shoe!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

World Octopus Day

8 October is World Octopus Day. 

First thing's first...what is the plural of Octopus?  

This is what Oxford Dictionaries have to say:

The standard plural in English of octopus is octopuses. However, the word octopus comes from Greek and the Greek plural form octopodes is still occasionally used. The plural form octopi, formed according to rules for some Latin plurals, is incorrect.

Secondly, why isn't October the eighth month? 

Well it did used to be, the Roman calendar used to start from March.  January and February were added by Numa Pompillius around 713 BC. He did this so there were more months with an uneven number of days - Roman's considered odd numbers to be lucky!

Thirdly - why are we so interested in world octopus day? 

...Because of our new display...the knitted aquarium which is stuffed to bursting point with knitted (and stuffed) see creatures, including a plethora of octopuses...

The display is to celebrate Wool Week 6-12 October 2014.  The pieces took 25 people from WoolnStuff five months to create.

Here is a sample of some of the woolly Cephalopoda:

Make a splash, come and dip your toe in, cast off to an imaginary world at Wakefield Museum.  Display is free to visit.

If you visit take a picture and Tweet us @WFMuseums.