Recently returned from a trip to the East Midlands visiting some of the community-based museums we are working with on the East Midlands Map Your History project. Inspirational to meet up with the enthusiastic and hugely knowledgable volunteer and staff teams looking after their local heritage. Great to discover some of the wonderful stories embedded in these collections first-hand. Stories of endeavour, resilience, genius, industry and tragedy embedded in people’s ordinary lives.
A miner’s lamp and mining tools at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Museum from nearby Snibston and Moira Collieries, or the diary written by an anonymous Puritan partially in code. The stunning Christopher Wren designed building that is the Sir John Moore Foundation School at Appleby Magna. Built with family money that included wealth generated from slavery, with originally carved pupil graffiti, school exercise books and ancient clock winding mechanism. The small and evocative old Baptist chapel at Diseworth that now houses a Heritage Centre telling the story of this village and its church of Saxon origin.
The remarkable life and photography of John Wield, a pioneering businessman who moved from Hampshire to Lincolnshire to make his living providing services for the health and wellbeing tourism industry of Woodhall Spa at the turn of the C20th. Powerful and deeply moving stories reflected in the exhibitions and artefacts at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, nestled in a peaceful countryside location outside the small Nottinghamshire village of Laxton.
The small rusty round tins kept in a wooden box from a local brewery that used to contain the weekly pay of ‘Goodley’, ‘Griggs’, ‘Cooper’ and 42 other local people who lived and worked in the small Northamptonshire town of Oundle. The shiny silver-looking (EPNS) teapots from the BBC Station on nearby Borough Hill that once rattled on the trolley pushed down the transmitter room in years gone by.
The cold, damp and watery pit in the basement of Strutt’s North Mill in Belper that once housed the watermill which drove the textile machinery on the floors above, with hands weaving cotton imported from overseas plantations where enslaved African people worked. And the first commercially made sanitary products made at Robertson’s in Chesterfield that helped women to continue working and building careers after World War 1.
Our East Midlands map is taking shape with teams across 13 partner museums making new discoveries in their collections as well as re-visiting old acquaintances. With well over 300 objects mapped so far, we are planning to publish our selection of maps in the Autumn for people to dive in and explore – so watch this space!