Monday, May 22, 2017

Sporting Memories

We have recently developed a sixth reminiscence box which is available to borrow from Sandal Library, for all Wakefield Library card holders.


This Sports themed box was developed on the suggestion of people who have been using our other 5 boxes.


From ‘Spokey Dokes’ to a vintage bowling ball this new box contains objects linked with  sports such as football, cycling, golf and cricket. Each of the objects has an information sheet with suggested ideas for discussions and activities. These have been developed for use with groups of people or on a one to one basis.


Some of the objects have kindly been donated for use in the reminiscence box. A Castleford Tigers fan donated a shirt for reference to rugby and the team he supports. There are items from Hemsworth & District Clay Pigeon Club – some people may not think this a sport. The club secretary but in many hours creating a file of information to support the objects donated and to explain this sport in more depth – for this we give thanks as this is not something we had knowledge to produce.


There is also a photo pack to accompany the box which contains images from Wakefield Museums collections and has been enhanced with image within Wakefield Libraries collections. Images are printed on white card with supporting text printed on yellow card for people who have sight impairment or dementia.


Since completing the Sports box we are looking to develop a seventh box upon the theme of Rugby. With our district having three rugby teams, (Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers and Wakefield Trinity) and each of these having such strong local support it was thought that a box designated to the one sport would be of interest to many people. We are sure there will be many stories and memories that people have from playing rugby at school or for a professional team, from watching your favourite team in the final or your favourite player score the best try ever seen the box will provide object to prompt discussions no matter which team you support.
If you would like to borrow one of reminiscence boxes, please contact the dementia-friendly Sandal Library: 01924 303355 or email.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

West Yorkshire Local Authority Museum Partnership Audience Development Commission

Commissioned by Wakefield Council Museums Service on behalf of West Yorkshire Local Authority Museums Partnership [WYLAMP]

We are looking for an experienced audience development specialist to develop and test a programme of promotional activity working across the WYLAMP group with the aim of sharing expertise and increasing visitor figures.
WYLAMP is a partnership between the five West Yorkshire Local Authority museum services to share best practice, encourage collaborative working and promote the value and benefits of Local Authority museums.  The partnership includes Bradford; Calderdale; Kirklees; Leeds and Wakefield.
Starting Conversations Research
In 2016 WYLAMP commissioned some audience development research that investigated what motivated people to visit and then recommend our venues.
A new level of insight into visitor behaviour revealed the building blocks of recommendation, and suggested ways to use these for development. The study describes how a recommendation is formed by many factors; by a great visit; and within that, by something that we don’t always think so much about – the ability to fit into people’s lives. In addition, there are quite separate social factors: the motivations for making any recommendation.
The research suggested that the goal is to ‘start conversations’, with and between visitors. Conversations help museums engage visitors, and reach the depth that museums want to achieve, but it is also a key benefit of museum visiting. Starting conversations also pays back in more visitors: for the WYLAMP group, the majority (around 70%) of its visitors will be attracted in this way, through recommendation, or positive word of mouth.
The ‘Starting Conversations’ report contained eighteen recommendations for action.  As part of Wakefield Museums Arts Council Resilience Round Two project we have secured funding to develop and test some audience development approaches based on the Starting Conversations recommendations.
Purpose of the Work
The purpose of the work is to develop a set of practical audience development approaches that can be used by the WYLAMP group to:
  • Increase visitor figures
  • Share expertise
  • Use existing audience development resources effectively and efficiently
  • Develop and encourage cross-over visits
  • Work in partnership with audience development and marketing staff across WYLAMP to develop and test mutually beneficial audience development approaches based on the ‘Starting Conversations’ recommendations.
  • Evaluation of test approaches.
  • Preparation of ‘how to guides’ to ensure a workable and practical legacy of the project.
  • Report of findings, summary,  recommendations to be prepared
  • Presentation of findings to WYLAMP
A fee of no more than £9500 (plus VAT if applicable) payable on receipt of an invoice and paid in instalments as agreed.    This includes all costs for delivery of test projects.
Jun 17
Jul 17
Aug 17
Sept 17
Oct 17
Nov 17
Dec 17
Jan 18
Feb 18
Mar 18
Selection process
Familiarisation and set up
Develop programme of activity
Test and review approaches
Evaluation, ‘how to guides’ and final report
How to apply?
To apply for this commission please send the following information to by 12 noon on Thursday 15 June 2017:
  • Outline of how you propose to carry out the project including  a timeline
  • Budget outline for delivering the work
  • Details of your experience delivering similar projects
  • Details of two referees for work you have completed recently

Monday, May 15, 2017

Half Term is fast-approaching!

Half Term holidays are approaching faster than we thought possible!

No need to panic though - there is lots of fun to be had at Wakefield's Museums and Castles!

Click on image to enlarge
All of these activities are free, and most don't require booking.

To see the full list of bookable family (and adult) sessions, visit

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!