BAFM MEMBERS NEWS - 3
Duke Opens New Exhibition Hall
Friends of the Royal Air Force Museum
The refurbished and relocated historic Grahame-White Watchtower building has been given a Royal public opening by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. The redundant Watchtower building, built in 1915, was once the centre piece of aviation pioneer Claude Grahame-White's aircraft factory in Hendon, home to the British aircraft industry and the birthplace of British aviation. Flying from Hendon ceased in the late 1960s and use of the building ceased with the closure of RAF Hendon in 1987. Since that time the building had fallen into disrepair.
Now relocated and renovated, the building sits next to the Grahame-White Factory on the main museum site. The Watchtower will exhibit displays on the life of Claude-Grahame White, the history of the Hendon Aerodrome and the pioneering years of flights. The upper floor will also feature a recreation of Claude Grahame-White's original office as well as a learning centre.
Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, Director General, Royal Air Force Museum commented, "This building and new exhibition provides a fitting tribute to Claude Grahame-White, one of this country's most important aviation pioneers. We intend to sustain his legacy through an exciting education programme that will provide a community resource as well as allowing visitors to understand the vital role of the local area in the history of British aviation."
BOAT JUMBLE DAY
FRIENDS OF THE GLOUCESTER WATERWAYS MUSEUM
The Friends had a wonderful Boat Jumble Day this Summer, selling rag rug kits, spiderweb sewing kits, patterns, books and leaflets from their displays in the museum shop. The rope making went very well as did the book stall. So a big thank you goes to all the volunteers, Friends and Museum staff who brought in their contributions over the weeks before. This was no ordinary Jumble Sale - boat people don't do ordinary things! This was a big event that took Friday and Saturday to get ready, all day Sunday to run and Monday to clear away again. Another vote of thanks is for all the volunteers who helped clear away heaps of rubbish, litter and cardboard afterwards. Originally the Friends had a small stall which they tended between doing the rounds of tidying. As the project grew a Crafts Group was formed, and they displayed canal boat painted ware and patchwork. As years go by the displays are getting bigger and there is now little time for same day litter collecting. A long and busy day but a most enjoyable and rewarding one.
INDOOR MARKET TO MOVE INTO MUSEUM
THE FRIENDS OF LANCASTER CITY MUSEUM
It was announced recently that Lancaster City Council is considering moving Lancaster's Indoor Market into the City Museum. Naturally this is being vigorously opposed by the Friends Group. The latest news is that a respected firm of consultants has been asked to carry out a feasibility study into the proposal, although the Friends have been assured that they will be fully consulted before the report is finalised. The Civic Society, The King's Own Regimental Museum, and The Friends of the Maritime Museum have all spoken against the plan which will move a food and produce market into an extended ground floor of the Museum's Grade II listed building. The Friends feel that the plan is purely for financial expediency at the expense of Lancaster's Cultural and Heritage Strategy for the future.
THANK YOU PRESENTATION
FRIENDS OF THE JOHN BUNYAN MUSEUM & LIBRARY
On Sunday, 16th January 2011, Doreen Watson was presented with a gift from Bunyan Meeting: Church, Trustees, Museum Committee and the Friends of the John Bunyan Museum and Library, for 20+ years of loyal volunteering, working for the John Bunyan Museum and Library.
Doreen, a member of Bunyan Meeting, was involved with the John Bunyan Museum from the moment the decision was taken by the church in 1991, to re-house the museum in a new building adjacent to the main halls. She saw the work through from conception to birth and beyond! She was involved with the architects, the builders and the design team, who set up the museum and its artefacts in the new building. The minister at the time, the Reverend Peter Protheroe said, "Without Doreen's drive and determination we would have been hard-pressed to get the project completed as we did. She kept everyone on their toes and the project to schedule."
Once the new museum was built, Doreen set up a team (and trained them) of other volunteers to help steward the museum when it was open and to staff the museum shop. She has done this now for over twelve years and has learned and developed the skills of a professional curator. As a result of her dedicated hard work, the museum has won some prestigious awards and, most noticeably, achieved Full Accreditation with the Museums and Libraries Archives. Rosemary Brind, Head of Operations and Development, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum, says, "This is an impressive achievement for a small, volunteer-led and run museum. Thanks are due to Doreen and her team of hard-working supporters."
The John Bunyan Museum and Library has an international reputation, as well as national and local and brings in some 5,000 visitors of all ages from around the world each year. The Reverend Chris Damp , Minister of Bunyan Meeting, said, "Doreen must be our finest example of volunteering. She has dedicated twenty years of her life (a labour of love and something the church can never repay) to keeping this museum open and helping to make it what it is today, a place to come for the casual visitor, as well as Bunyan scholars and those fulfilling a personal mission. We thank Doreen and wish her well in her 'retirement'."
Thanks to some generous grants and donations, the museum has recently been able to appoint its first paid professional curator to replace Doreen. The museum opens for the new season on 1st March and is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 11.00am to 4.00pm until the end of October. Admission is free.
THE FRIENDS OF THE SALT MUSEUM
The Friends of the Salt Museum have changed their museum's name to 'The Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse'. It is hoped that the Lion Salt Works will grow and forge their own identities for the benefit of visitors. It is hoped that the history of salt and salt-making in the area can be shown in a more dynamic way than could be undertaken at the present site.
FRIENDS OF THE RURAL LIFE CENTRE
'Teamwork Triumphs' was the headline on the front page of 'Rustic', the newsletter of the Friends of the Rural Life Centre (Farnham, Surrey), with a picture of teams of volunteers clearing enough of the white stuff to get the cars off the road and into the car park. Some of them thought it was great fun and as a result they cleared enough space to allow three cars to park. That was enough to get 2010 off to a flying start.
Following a very successful 2009 with visitor numbers up 20% compared to the previous year (thanks largely to Weyfest), much work had been planned on improvements over the winter months. Following the delay caused by the snow, work is pressing ahead. The biggest difference, which will be instantly noticed by all visitors, will be the complete redesign of the shop. This will allow a far better flow of people into both the museum and the café.
Amongst the displays much has been going on; the plumbing has been redesigned and interpreted along with the gardening display. The area which was the original Old Kiln Museum has seen progress on the buildings around the courtyard, and is now a place of importance which will shortly re-open, housing displays of cider making and brewing, a usable stable and domestic interiors representing the 1920s and 1930s.
Next door to the forge, work has been going on to create a working replica of a Wealden iron furnace and hammer. Funded by the Surrey Hills project, their efforts have now taken on a striking form. The water wheel and hammer are virtually complete and work is about to start on the furnace and bellows. This is really experimental archaeology as little remains of any of the original sites.
EDWARD BAWDEN EXHIBITION
FRIENDS OF CECIL HIGGINS ART GALLERY & MUSEUM
Edward Bawden (1903-1989) was one of the most influential graphic artists of his generation. His work could be seen all over the country in advertisements and illustrations, ranging from the London Underground and Shell Petrol, to the Festival of Britain, Ealing Films posters and book dust jackets. In the 1980s the Royal Academy trained artist donated an archive of his work to the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery in Bedford.
The Bedford Gallery Exhibition was opened by Chris Brown, who studied at the Royal College of Art, where he was met and eventually assisted Edward Bawden. Bawden encouraged him to explore linocut as a medium; and since then Chris has exhibited at the Royal Academy and the V&A. He said that it had been a privilege to work with Bawden, and was full of admiration for the exhibition that had been arranged by the Gallery.
A further direct link with Bawden was the presence at the exhibition opening of Stanley Jones, the printer from the Curwin Press, who had also worked with John Piper. Stanley has made a 30-minute film with the Gallery on the business of print making, which is being shown continuously.
To celebrate the Exhibition, BAFM members, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum commissioned the artist Mark Hearld to produce a limited edition lithograph. Printed at the Curwen Studio, where Stanley was involved, he forms a link with all three artists!
At a special evening meeting Peyton Skipwith, Executor of the Estate of Edward Bawden, came and talked about the man as he remembered him. Asked his opinion of the exhibition, he felt it was excellent and that Bawden would have been delighted.
This has been the most impressive exhibition staged in the newly refurbished Bedford Gallery so far, and has been well attended by the public with high sales of cards, books and other items, and helped by the AA Exhibition signs around Bedford sponsored by the Friends of the Gallery. Its success shows what the team that run the Art Gallery and Museum are capable of, and bodes well for the future.