Sunday, 31 August 2014

Your Place at Bromley Museum

Local Museums tell local stories,
and what could be more local than objects from your own home.
Bromley Museum invite us to look at objects from homes in the 1930s through to the 1950s
and see how many we can identify from our own homes.

Not much guessing needed,
but a lovely look at design from different decades.

To help us connect with the past
(with the Twentieth century),
Bromley Museum has a gallery called 'Your Place'
where you might recognise a few things.

If you're too young to remember these particular objects,
you can definitely make comparisons with them as they exist today
and listen to your mum reminiscing about her own childhood
and what her grand-parents used to have.

 Particularly the polyester dressing gown,
which if you took it off in the dark,
lit up your bedroom with static in a sci-fi kind of way.
This also rang true for polyester jumpers from C&A.

My youngest two,
having just finished primary school only the week before,
completely got the vase with school leavers names on it.
For them it was a white T-shirt and fabric pens.
They all signed each other's T-shirt and wrote messages.

Memories are not all about objects.
Sometimes it's smells.
Clove oil, smelling salts, mint, lavender, coal-tar soap and baby powder.

We discussed smells we like;
"That pink cream, Germoline"
"Mowed grass"
"Warm just-photocopied paper"
"Damp towels"

The smell of "warm just photocopied paper" has probably got to wait a few more years 
before it becomes nostalgic.

Mind you, I was pleased to see that photocopying had been used by Bromley Museum
for all the best reasons.
"I bought that magazine when I was at school!" I exclaimed excitedly.
Three eleven year olds were totally nonplussed.

Bromley Museum invite you find out about some of its famous residents.

Charles Darwin.


Enid Blyton.

Imagine, exploring all this whilst dressed as a Saxon and a Tudor!

Sometimes we forget how far technology has come.

In 1708 Queen Anne passed a law saying that
each parish had to provide and maintain a fire-engine.
This is the "Squirt."
"But it's made of wood!?!"

The novelty value of dialing a telephone,
dressed as a Tudor in the Twenty-first century.

Bromley Museum is open Mondays to Saturdays,
closed for lunch each day between 12.30-1.30pm.

There's much more to see at Bromley Museum.
I haven't mentioned the displays from Pre-historic, Roman, Tudor, Saxon and Victorian times.
Visit and see for yourself. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Big and small in the V&A

Differences in scale can serve to highlight just how extraordinary some objects in museums actually are.

On a visit to the V&A,
we saw the very big and the very small.

We began with the very big.
Just because something was big,
it did not put the Victorians off collecting,
and bringing things back to display.

This is not the original
Trajans Column, AD113, from Rome,
but a cast made in plaster, now in the Cast Courts.
The original column is 38 meters high.
The cast has been cut in half to fit into the V&A.

There is a continuous frieze running around it,
depicting over 2,500 figures.

As we considered the enormity of making plaster casts of such huge feats of architecture,
we asked ourselves whether the V&A did this themselves.
They did.
This 'remarkable Victorian phenomenon' of collecting casts
was embraced by the V&A in the nineteenth century
and is now one of the few cast collections around the world to survive.

Here's how casts were made.

It's brilliant how you can walk amongst these huge objects,
close up to replicas of architecture from all over Europe,
close enough to see even the smallest of details.

Like this tomb of St Sebaldus 1529,
from Germany,
originally in bronze.

 Supported by giant snails.

We liked the snails, they "looked grumpy."
But why snails?

And the front of this cathedral from Spain.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, 1188. 

My only experience with plaster, was making Beatrix Potter characters as a child
using kits with rubber moulds.
These casts put mine to shame, and I can still remember
that, "I never really got round to painting them",
I tell my fifteen year old.
Her knowledge of plaster:
"did you know the wands in Harry Potter are made of plaster."

On to the very small.
This is why we had come to the V&A,
to revisit the Silver Galleries.

Remembered from six years ago,
the dolls house furniture.

Tea sets on trays.

 Pots and pans.

Place settings.


Excuse the chipped nails.
But look how small that teapot actually is.

Sugar shakers, cutlery canteens and candle sticks.

Teeny, tiny plates.

It was all there,
just as it had been six years ago.
We still want it.
Perhaps you never really grow out of wanting a dolls house
and all the possibilities of the furniture required to fill it.
Not until you're old enough to know how much polishing all that silver requires, you don't.

Big and small in the V&A.
Details on the V&A website.

The dolls house furniture was 
a teeny, tiny part of their huge collection of silver.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Bromley Museum: What the label doesn't tell you.

Local museums attract local people
and if you're really lucky you get to chat to them,
because they "pop in every now and then to see what has changed".
Who better to talk to about the objects in Bromley Museum
than the locals.

Whatever the labels say,
you can't beat hearing someones personal experience with objects in museums.
It's a bit like looking at laundry labels with all those washing symbols,
you sometimes learn more from personal experience,
surely you really don't have to hand wash?

Take the Victorian washing Dolly.
As Bromley Museum tells us,
"was still in use in some areas well into the 20th century".
 Well according to the couple I was chatting to,
it still is in use,
in the 21st century.

Her: "Our neighbour in her early 80s still uses one of those for her sheets."
Him: "Mind you he might be doing it now because she's not so good on her feet."

I was full of admiration for their neighbour,
I can hardly keep up with washing our family's bedding
with a fully automatic washing machine,
and I'm half her age.

The Mangle, 1910.
Not immediately obvious as to what it is when you have been born in the 21st century.
"An iron?"
"Something you use to dry things?"

They had deduced that it was to help with the laundry...
...but no-one could have guessed that the mangle meant status.

"You used to show off if you had a mangle.
If you were rich you had a mangle,
you'd go to school and tell everyone, 'we've got a mangle'.
We might have lived in a council house in Green Street Green,
but we were rich because we had a mangle."
Her mother's mangle was scrubbed weekly to keep those rollers spotless
and the pressing saved on ironing.

"See, I was right, it was to do with ironing."
That put me in my place.

Bromley Museum is open Mondays to Saturdays,
closed for lunch each day between 12.30-1.30pm.

Nowadays the laundry can be done at the same time as visiting a museum.
If you put on a load before you leave the house,
it might be ready to hang out when you get home.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Connections in Teignmouth Museum

There are many events on the Teignmouth time line in the Teignmouth Museum.

It's a town with connections.

Connections to rock stars...
...The Beatles,

...and Muse.
They played a homecoming concert on The Den
and used an image of Teignmouth Pier for their poster.

Muse appear on museum and town centre walls.

Other connections are more permanent, now set in stone, but their beginnings were in timber, requiring building materials. Shaldon Bridge connecting Teignmouth to Shaldon across the River Teign estuary.

Shaldon bridge was built in 1827,
"the longest timber bridge in England". 

Woe betide anyone who stole any materials during the build, with a two pound reward for shopping on someone you were bound to be caught.

You had to pay to cross Shaldon Bridge.
The pay-structure seemed a little on the complicated side,
and this is only the top half of the list.

A penny for pedestrians and tuppence for a wheelbarrow. The ever thrifty Devonians were said to have removed the wheels from their barrows and carried them across to save money.
Or 'allegedly', waited until after dark, when the toll-keeper had gone to bed and hot-footed it over the bridge without paying a penny.

The timber bridge lasted 104 years and in 1931 a stone bridge replaced the original.
In 1948 Devon County Council stepped in and bought the bridge and the tolls were abolished.
No need now to wait until after dark to save a penny or two.

Other connections are remembered with more mixed reactions.
Not all fame is wanted.
People can draw attention to themselves, and their town, for all the wrong reasons.

In 1968 Donald Crowhurst set sail to race solo around the world, in his catamaran, the Teignmouth Electron. He appeared to break race rules, disappeared and his boat was found adrift in the Atlantic. He was never seen again and his disappearance is still a mystery to this very day.

More connections,
Teignmouth's with the Second World War.
Teignmouth was a town where evacuees were sent to escape the bombing. When the war started they were told to expect 2,400 refugees. Mind you Teignmouth was heavily bombed itself, due to it having a port, the coastal railway and a nearby aerodrome. 

Connections with the sea.
Many people can thank Teignmouth Life Boats for saving their lives.

Remembering lives saved... 

...and the volunteer crew.

There has been a lifeboat station in Teignmouth since 1851. Staffed by volunteers.
And imagine, this was one of the earliest life-jackets.

One last connection, to my granny who had one of these, so my mum tells me.
An Easiwork Health Cooker from the 1930s,
a pressure cooker to you and me.
She "picked it up at an auction in the 50s".

My mum remembers her buying horse meat stained with green ink to show that is was not fit for human consumption and cooking it for the dog. Mum and I did laugh at the thought of her tiny Dachshund eating an animal the size of a horse.
Connecting back to the Second World War, we did comment that rather than a pressure cooker, it looked more like a large hand-grenade.

Back to the time line,
"Teignmouth is Devon".

Come and see for yourself
in the Teignmouth Museum
open Tuesday to Saturdays in the Teign Heritage Centre.
Details on their website here.

To read my previous post
'Wish You Were Here!'
about sea-side fun how it used to be, in Teignmouth Museum, click here.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...