Message from our chair
Although the Museum is now closed to visitors for the winter this does not mean that nothing happens. It is the time that we are able to make changes to the displays and also catch up on the 'back-room’ activities concerned with caring for, and documenting, the collection. We have ambitious plans for the winter months if we are successful in our grant applications.
These plans include reorganising the displays on the third floor, implementing the recommendations of the recent Collections Care Audit, and following up with a Collection Management Audit to make sure we do everything properly.
There will be other things too – so watch this space and come and see if you can spot any changes next year!
Demonstrations get even more hands on
Thanks to Fibre-East we now have a good supply of niddy-noddies (for winding yarn into a skein), drop spindles and hand carders, and an extra loom so that our visitors can be more hands on when watching the demonstrators. Check out Fibre-East's website if you are interested in attending events featuring natural fibre and craft.
We are very grateful for Fibre-East's help.
One of our demonstrators is shown here setting up a loom.
Thanks to the generous grants and funding we have received we are now able to proceed with the following projects:
- Conserving the scale model of the building
- Upgrading the top floor displays
- Carrying out Phase 2 of our Conservation Audit
- Carrying out a Collection and Documentation Audit
- Move on to the next stage of work in conserving the building.
Check out those who have helped fund our work here.
If you have been past the Museum lately you may have noticed that we have had a 'face lift'. The windows and doors of the Museum have been repainted, as has the back of the building facing Grapes Court. Chris Parry has done a great job for us, as well as regaling us with stories of his childhood and early work in the area. He has been very generous by supporting the Museum with a large donation too.
He even exposed our original number on the door. Wonderful
No 5 Commercial Street.
This work would not have been possible without the support we have had from external funding.
Mary Clayton 1841 - her story. Part of a new display at the Museum.
My name is Mary Clayton. I was born Mary Humphreys, just across the river in Newtown, in 1797. I married Thomas when I was 23, just in time, as our eldest girl, Ann, was born a month later! You’ll meet Thomas when you go upstairs. He’s busy doing his shift on the loom. I’ll be taking over on a later shift. Thomas doesn’t like me working up there, he says us women and the children are driving down the wages. But what can I do? If I don’t work, some other woman will do it instead, and we need the money!!
This, here, is our youngest, Amelia. She’s five. We’ve got six altogether. The other five are all working. Three are working upstairs on the looms and the other two are over in the fulling mill down by the river. It’s tough on the youngsters. In the busy time, they’re all working 12 hours a day, sometimes longer. They’re so tired, they hardly know what they’re doing. I don’t like them working down the mill, kids are always getting hurt there. Last week I heard that a 9 year old had her arm crushed in the hammers!
And this is our house, number 2 Grapes Court. It could be worse I suppose, but it could be a lot better. It would be nice to have one of the houses on the front and not have to have the smell of the privies in the yard outside in our nostrils all the time. And you need eyes in the back of your head with the kids. I’m scared one of the little ones will fall into the cess pool.
But at least we’ve got a house to live in and work! Mind you, our pay doesn’t buy much, once you take out the rent. We’re always owing Mr Griffiths, the Master - so we’re forced to buy our food in his tommy shop across the road.
All in all, life is tough, but we’re still some of the lucky ones. We’re all working. We have a roof over our heads and we’ve got some food in our bellies!
Crimean military quilt
There is a picture hanging in the Royal College of Surgeons of a man sitting in bed sewing a quilt. His quilt was made of triangles, while the one on display at the Museum is tiny squares of densely woven worsted used in the production of military uniforms, predominantly red.
Soldiers were encouraged to take up needlework as a form of therapy for those injured in conflict and recuperating in hospital. An heirloom from the great great grandfather of our curator, this glorious woollen quilt is a reminder of the therapy of craft work. It is on loan.
Marvel at the stitching and regularity of the quilting.
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