Welcome to the Wakefield Museums' blog. You can keep up to date with all the news and discover how you can get involved with the museums' projects and events here. Be sure to let us know what you think of our blog and our online collections.
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
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
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?
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.
Dahl summer space now open at Wakefield Museum
We are planning a ‘gloriumptious’ event - to mark the opening
of the new Roald Dahl space at Wakefield Museum.
colourful space which is open all summer, celebrates the work of the
renowned children’s author, famed for his classic books such as Matilda, the
Big Friendly Giant, and James and the Giant Peach.
Our special event takes place on Wednesday August 3 from 11am
to 4pm, and features a range of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory craft
inspired activities including an opportunity to invent their own chocolate,
make sweet deely boppers and lollipop decorations.
You will also be able to dress-up, have your face painted and meet a special
The event is free and there’s no need to book in advance.
Wakefield Museum's conservator has had a bit of a shock recently, as the museum appears to be infested with creatures.
Vigilant staff have picked up signs that the creatures appear to be gathering around a PokeStop at the building.
Even more alarming is these creatures (we understand the scientific name is Pokémon) don't seem to be responding to our usual pest traps, and we seem unable to capture them.
The museum conservator said: "These things have me baffled. I have tried using all of our usual pest-control methods, but they are still there, sitting on our museum objects. I don't know what else to do! This is a museum emergency - I've never seen anything like this before."
We need your help!
Please, come to the museum and help us capture all of these Pokémon.
We are working with One to One Development Trust on a project for a forthcoming exhibition.
Judi (Creative Director) writes:
Whilst a lot of the country are
enjoying tennis season and Wimbledon, we have been busy filming for our latest
production, ‘Playmakers’ a short film and exhibition about the Sykes/ Slazenger
Factory in Horbury.
What a gem of a story this is.
William Sykes was only 23 when, against family advice, he married Ethel
Marshall. Using his wife’s savings William bought a saddle business in Horbury
in the 1870s. The factory has had a long and fascinating history including
being taken over by Slazenger in 1942, Slazenger were then taken over by Dunlop
Rubber in 1959 and then purchased in 1985 by BTR PLC, (both brand names Dunlop
and Slazenger were kept) the factory finally closed in 1986.Apart from during the war when the Sykes
factory made a variety of army equipment including gun parts, the main business
has been in producing sports equipment.
Last week we were very lucky to be
filming Robert Haines who was Technical Manager at Slazenger and oversaw the
build of a new product research centre at the site in Horbury. The centre was
opened in 1978 and was a hive of innovation and excellence. Tennis rackets, one
of the companies’ top products, were traditionally made from wood planks, but
the team at Horbury showed incredible ingenuity with their approach to
producing a new product which would change the face of racket sports forever. Robert
and his team lead the way in the switch over to graphite frames with the launch
of the Max 200g tennis racket, the first graphite racket, and the first to be
constructed using injection moulding. The racket made its debut in the early 1980s
as the preferred choice of world renowned players John McEnroe and Steffi Graf.
Bob Haines with Dunlop Racket
Robert shared with us the
excitement of working at the old Sykes factory at this time including when the
Dunlop Max 200g went on to win lots of prestigious awards including the Queens
Award for Technological Achievement 1985. The factory site now is an industrial
park full of small businesses, but from the early days of it being a saddlery,
through to it being the home of one of the most successful global brands in the
world, the Sykes site holds some magnificent stories. The Horbury factory and
its local workforce has produced some of the UK’s most famous sporting
equipment in the world, from cricket bats to boxing gloves and including the
famous Zig Zag football used in the 1966 World Cup.
Bob Haines' award for Max 200g Racket Technology
Working with Wakefield Museum we
are keen to find any interesting stories from people who worked at the Horbury
factory, we are also looking for any artefacts/items that people may have that
could contribute to an exhibition entitled ‘Playmakers’ later in the year.
If you would like to contribute to
the project in any way, please email us at One to One or ring 07901 686142
One to One Development Trust