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.