Monday, March 31, 2014

George Kellett's World War One Diary: March 1918

Throughout 2014 we will be 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 February diary entries please see our previous blog: February 1918

1 March 1918
Gave our pay books in this morning. It is snowing very hard

RSM Phillips asked us to work over for a few days and said he would give us a day off next week.

3 March 1918
Went to the Salvation Army service in the afternoon.  After tea we went to the YMCA hut to hear Mr Rodgers speak.  Sergt was warned for inspection tomorrow

4 March 1918
Sergt and I had our last friendly game at draughts in the SA then we went to the YMCA for supper and a quiet bath after which I left them hoping to see him in dear old Blighty very soon

5 March 1918
Met Arthur Warwick today. He came into the Con Camp this morning.

6 March 1918
Had a fine concert given by the Tank Corps in the Salvation Army Hut.  Received two letters from home

7 March 1918
Wrote letters to Pam, Father, TH Hancock, Harry, Mr Masters, J Pearson and to Connie today in the SA Hut
On 7 March George wrote a letter to Connie.  Connie was a friend of Emma Horner who George married in October 1919.  This is a picture of Emma.
Emma lived above this chocolate shop, 20 Wood Street, Wakefield
Emma and Connie wrote lots of postcards to each other, in this one Connie talks about her boyfriend getting his papers.

8 March 1918
Received a letter from Pam with one enclosed from Mildred telling her that she and Harry were married on Feb 25th 18. I also had the Express from home

9 March 1918

Went down to Treport tonight. Had my photograph taken just opposite the casino. Had half day off today

10 March 1918
Went on Church Parade this morning. Had a very pleasant Service. Wrote letters to Pam and Father

11 March 1918
Received a letter from Serg. Knife and one from Pam which I answered this evening in the YMCA Hut. I also wrote to Mrs Homes

12 March 1918
Went for a stroll around the camp on the sea cliffs called at EFC [?] for supper

13 March 1918
Received a letter Pam today with a letter enclosed from Mildred which I answered in the YMCA
Mr Rodgers farewell service tonight going on leave

14 March 1918
Making Dining table for the Officers Mess today.  Had a game at billiards in the YMCA Hut.  Received  a pipe and two hand kerchiefs and a letter from Father.  Wrote to thank him for them and also wrote to Pam

George trained as a carpenter and joiner from 1909 - 1915.  This is his apprenticeship indenture.  Throughout his 1918 diary George often refers to tasks carried out that utilise his carpentry skills.   

 These handkerchiefs didn't belong to George Kellett, but are examples from the collection of First World War Handkerchiefs.  They were sent home as tokens of love, bought as souvenirs of travel or in commemoration of an event.  You can see some of the handkerchiefs on display at Pontefract Museum in the Great War Inspires Exhibition The Great War Inspires

16 March 1918

Youngs and Harrison got there photos today and they are fine.  Gunner Lag and mine will be ready for tomorrow

17 March 1918
Started building miniature rifle range in the Red Cross Hut.  Got my photos today.  Wrote letters to Pam Father and Mrs Homes and sent them a photo each.  Had a nice walk on the cliffs tonight

18 March 1918
Went down to town tonight and five of us had our photo taken in a group.  Got my watch today which father sent me from home.  Wrote asking him to send me some money.

This could be the picture George refers to in his 18 March diary entry.

19 March 1918
Wrote letters to Sgt.Knife Bob and to Ada.  Then we had a game at whist and stayed for last of the Services in the SA Hut.

20 March 1918
Played cards with the boys then Sig. Norwich and I played skittles in the canteen.  We afterwards went to the YMCA

21 March 1918
Received the Express from home today.  Went to the concert in the YMCA picture hall this afternoon where there was a very fine show.

22 March 1918
Signaler Roberts, Gunner Lag and Pte Young were warned for draft this morning and will be going tomorrow.  We had a good game in the skittle alley this evening and then a four hand at Billiards.  S[ignaller] Hornet also warned for draft

23 March 1918

Left all on my own today.  Started working on the rifle range again in the BRCS hut which is being built in the camp.  Wrote letters to father and Pam

24 March 1918
Con Camp nearly full up again another inspection this morning but I have been lucky once more.

29 March 1918 (Good Friday)
Making table for the Officers Mess. Playing billiards in the YMCA

30 March 1918
Medical inspection today. Marked out for the Base

31 March 1918 (Easter Day)
Left Treport this morning.  Had about three hours in Dieppe then came down to Rouen where we landed about 4:30.  Then we had to walk to camp

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An insight into chariot burials

Castleford Forum Museum is the home to a display on The Ferry Fryston Iron Age Chariot burial.  This chariot was a stunning discovery - being the best (but not only!) example of a chariot which was assembled for a funeral.

To celebrate this important local find Dr Melanie Giles, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Manchester, will be giving a fascinating talk on this and other Iron Age chariot burial sites. 
Chariot burials are rare in Britain.  Most of them have been found in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the land of the Parasi tribe.  The one found at Fryston Park is not only a long way to the west of these, but is also unusual in being whole as they were normally dismantled before burial.

The talk will take place on Thursday 10 April, 1.00 – 3.00pm at Castleford Forum Museum, Carlton Street, Castleford, WF10 1BB.

The talk is free but seats are limited, so first come first seated!

Dr Melanie Giles specialises in the Iron Age of northern Europe, particularly aspects of funerary archaeology, Celtic art and weaponry, and the phenomenon of 'bog bodies'. Her first monograph - A Forged Glamour: landscape, identity and material culture - was published by Windgather Press in 2012, and is a detailed study of the lives and deaths of Iron Age communities in Yorkshire.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Charles Waterton's Creations #MuseumWeek #MuseumMastermind

As part of Twitter's #MuseumWeek #MuseumMastermind we have been asking what Charles Waterton's creations are made from.

Here are the answers, plus some more information about Charles Waterton's taxidermy methods.

The Creations

Waterton was keen on preserving wildlife as 'stuffed' specimens, but he would also construct his own creations using bits from a variety of birds and animals and then give them very odd titles that often had a satirical motive.

John Bull and the National Debt

A porcupine in a tortoiseshell with an almost human face is so weighed down by the National Debt of £800 million that it is overcome by six devils.

The six devils include an angler fish augmented with snake skin; a small caiman with spines made from either bird claws or spurs from the legs of cockerels or pheasants; spiny finned fish mixed with a toads lower half.

The Nondescript

Made from the skin of a howler monkey Waterton sometimes pretended this was a new species of animal he had discovered or a caricature of a customs officer who had charged him import duty on the animal skins.

Charles Waterton's Taxidermy

"Allow me to inform you that there are no stuffed animals in this house" Waterton declared to a visitor to his museum in 1856.
He went on to demonstrate that his specimens were all hollow by pulling off the head of a preserved polecat and revealing that there was nothing inside.

Waterton's unusual method relied on the use of the chemical Mercuric Chloride which both prevented insect attack and set the skin hard.

He began the process by scraping away much of the inside of the skin. He then set up the animal roughly into the correct position.

Progressively he returned to the specimen each day, making minor adjustments until he considered that it was sufficiently lifelike.

As far as it is possible to judge, Waterton's specimens do appear to have been better than others preserved in the nineteenth century.

He certainly believed it to be so.  He particularly stressed that you should observe the live bird carefully to ensure the stance or form of the museum specimen was correct. Unfortunately his method was difficult and slow and it has seldom been copied.

For more information about the man himself see Charles Waterton

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Collection Highlights: Russian Map of the Pontefract Area

Wakefield Museums hold over 120,000 historic objects that have been acquired on behalf of those who live, work in or visit the Wakefield district.

Many of the objects are on display at our museum venues, but we can't display everything at once! This series of blog posts wil highlight some of the collections, both on display and off, by showing a photograph and some information about the object.
We'd love to know your thoughts about the objects featured in this series so if you have a memory linked to an object or if you can add some more background information about them please do leave a comment for us.
Russian Map of the Pontefract Area

This is an Ordnance Survey map of the Pontefract and Castleford area translated into Russian and a stark reminder of the Cold War. Not only did the Soviet forces (as we did) plan for the possibility of “M.A.D,” (Mutually Assured Destruction) using nuclear missiles but also translated our maps for some more conventional form of warfare.
If you follow the rivers from left to right you can see Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley. The recognisable pattern of the Ferrybridge power station cooling towers must have been considered a useful minor target as would have been the tank factory on the edge of Leeds.
As this map was reprinted by the Soviets in 1982, it shows that all this was not so long ago. It is ironic that the idea of mapping the country in 1791 by the Ordnance Survey (i.e. the army) was all done so that we could defend ourselves, village by village, two years after the French Revolution in 1789. The mapping started in earnest in 1815 after Waterloo.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Time Flies - (but there's always time for tea!)

Easter Holiday workshops and activities are creeping up on us!  There is an exciting range of workshops and drop-in activities to keep everyone entertained, but we still have some fun Special Events for adults and families before then!

All information for these and future events can be found on our sister website.  Keep checking back for regular updates - or join our e-mailing list to have the listings sent directly to you!

Alice in Wonderland Tea Party
Wednesday 26 March, 5pm – 7.30pm

A bright idea came into Alice’s head. “Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?” she asked.
“Yes, that’s it,” said the Hatter with a sigh: “it’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.”

Wakefield Museum is stuck at 6 o’clock – it’s tea time for a while…..  Pull up a chair and join the mad hatter’s tea party.  

You can decorate a cupcake taking inspiration from our marvellous Alice in Wonderland Atrium Case display.  Then make a cup and saucer to take it home in!

All are welcome… hatters, dormice and March Hares - fancy dress is optional!
Drop in any time between 5pm and 7.30pm.  Entry to the museum and all activities are free.

“… I’ll never go there again!” said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. “It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!”

Roman Day!
Saturday 29th March

Castleford Forum Museum
10am- 3pm

The Romans are coming! Come and meet the Romans and find out how they lived in Castleford with fun activities for all the family.

Castleford Forum has an amazing collection of Roman objects, from hobnailed soldier's boots to intricate hairpins.  Drop in to Take part in some Roman drill, see a Roman craftsman at work, or take a look at Roman hairstyles!  There will be something for everyone with free make-and-take activities for kids, and Roman experts on hand to enthrall! 

Easter Holiday Activities

Tuesday 15th April
Monkey Business
Wakefield Museum
Ages 2 – 5 
10:15 – 11:30am and 1:30 – 2:45pm
Inviting our younger visitors to come and monkey around creating some animal related crafts. Taking inspiration from the museum's Waterton collection children will come face to face with a selection of weird and wonderful creatures.
Please wear clothes you do not mind getting a bit dirty!
Booking Essential - call 01924 302700 or email

Wednesday 16th April
Amazing Animation
Wakefield Museum
Ages 6 – 11 
10:15 – 11:45am and 1:30 – 3pm
Using i-Pads, with the museum collection as inspiration, come and join us to create your own short digital animation.  Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment
Booking Essential - call 01924 302700 or email

Thursday 17th April
Chariots of Fun!
Castleford Forum Museum
Ages 4-11
Come and explore the amazing Iron Age chariot at Castleford Forum Museum – and then create your own mini chariot. You’ll see how clever those Iron Age people must have been!
No booking required

Thursday 17th April
Hickory Dickory
Sandal Castle
Ages 2 – 5 
10:15 – 11:30am and 1:30 – 2:45pm 
Come and spend an hour with us looking at how we used to tell the time.  Have a go at making your own time telling device.  Please wear clothes you do not mind getting a bit dirty!
Booking Essential - call 01924 302700 or email

Wednesday 23rd April
Men in the Mirror
Wakefield Museum
Ages 6-11
11am-12.30noon; 1.30-3pm
This session is all about marvellous moustaches, hilarious hairstyles and barmy beards! We will be learning about how these fashions have changed over time, and we will be making some beardy- weirdy crafts to take home! (Linking with the museum’s temporary exhibition.)
Booking Essential - call 01924 302700 or email

Friday 25th April
Pontefract Museum
Ages 4-11
Being inspired by the artwork on display in the World War I exhibition, we will be learning about and making craft medals, which you can take home.
No booking required

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Introducing Collection Highlights

Wakefield Museums hold over 120,000 historic objects that have been acquired on behalf of those who live, work in or visit the Wakefield district.
Many of the objects are on display at our museum venues, but we can't display everything at once!  This new series of blog posts wil highlight some of the collections, both on display and off, by showing a photograph and some information about the object.
We'd love to know your thoughts about the objects featured in this series so if you have a memory linked to an object or if you can add some more background information about them please do leave a comment for us.
Our first object is the Betamax video recorder

A local resident donated this video recorder to the museum service in November 2006. It will forever be remembered for losing the video ‘format’ wars in the 1980s.
Video has revolutionised how we watch television. The ability to record has meant that we can now choose when and how often we want to watch a television programme. More recently the successor to video, digital TV allows viewers even more options to watch programmes when it suits us.

In the 1980s, the two main formats were Betamax made by Sony, and VHS developed by JVC. They went head to head to dominate the market.
It was Betamax quality verses VHS quantity.

VHS won because video recorders were very expensive to buy (over £1000 in today’s money) so many homes rented a machine instead of risking buying one. VHS ones were easier to get and there was also a larger choice of VHS movies to rent at video shops.
By the late 1980s, more than 80% of households with a video recorder owned a VHS machine, and in 1988, Sony started to make VHS themselves.

To explore more of the museums' collections visit: Wakefield Museums Collections