40 Years of Nantwich Museum
Our annual Summer Exhibition showcases some of the highlights of our first 40 year.
To see the online version of this exhibition, please click here.
There is also an online exhibition which tells the history of our site. This covers the old jail and how Nantwich Free Library came into fruition. To see this click here.
Nantwich at Play
In 2015 we looked at how leisure activities over the years. We investigated toys over the years, Nantwich Fairs, bathing and swimming, cycling, cycling, sports, the Brine Baths Hotel, cinema and theatre and other recreational activities. What was it like swimming in woollen swimming costumes?
Did you know that there have been four different zoos in the area?
You can learn about Monkey Hornby, who learned to play cricket on the grounds of Shrewbridge Hall. He is one of only two men to captain the country at both rugby and cricket, and is remembered as the England cricket captain whose side lost the Test match which gave rise to the Ashes.
Also covered is Nantwich Racecourse, where there was once a race between a man on a horse, and a man on foot with his hands tied behind his back. You may be surprised by the result.
Endangered and Extinct
With the continuing enforced closure of Nantwich Museum due to the Covid-19 pandemic it has not been possible to install its scheduled temporary exhibition: ‘Reincarnated Rubbish – Endangered and Extinct’, an inspired exhibition by creative recycling artist Val Hunt. Elements of the exhibition have, however, are now available on our website.
The artwork employs ingenuity, humour and skill to create a fascinating and inspiring selection of sculptural pieces which will appeal to visitors of all ages. Animals including insects, exotic birds, fish and dinosaurs, all on the edge or now extinct, have been made from a selection of throw away materials, especially Val’s favourite medium, drinks can metal. The online exhibition presents some of the animals it was originally intended to display making a subtle message about recycling and preservation, raising awareness of why the creatures are endangered or extinct. Find out why species are disappearing from this planet at an alarming rate. The exhibition aims to inspire, inform and encourage everyone to experience the fun of creative recycling.
Val retrieves everyday things we throw away and presents them in a new and fascinating dimension. Her work recycles a diverse selection of rubbish from which she creates innovated sculptures, wall hangings, hats and jewellery. It has been shown in exhibitions around the U.K., Denmark, Japan, United Emirates, U.S.A. and has toured overseas with the British Council. She has worked in many permanent collections. Val won the Gold Award for specialist media in the Craft and Design magazine awards in 2014 and was runner-up in 2013.
To see the online version of this exhibition, please click here.
Empowerment of Women: A Local Perspective
Developed by members of the museum’s Research Group, the exhibition celebrates the centenary of the earliest successes of the women’s suffrage campaign. In 1918 women first got the right to vote in elections for Parliament, but only if they were property owners aged over 30. It would be another ten years before all women could exercise this right in the same way as men. Just as vitally, also from 1918, women could stand for election to Parliament. Supporters of the campaign from all kinds of backgrounds organised, marched and made demands about decent housing, the hours of work in factories and shops, the education of their children and much more.
Their case was strengthened during the First World War by women successfully taking on many jobs which had previously been done only by men, whilst the men went off to fight. When the war ended, women were prepared for a wider participation in public life. The exhibition examines ways in which women involved in the war, were reflected locally.
It also celebrates the lives of three local women who, in different ways and at different times, took up the causes that the women’s suffrage movement fought for: the writer and community activist Helen Macfarlane, champion of women’s rights Ada Nield Chew, and most recently Gwyneth Dunwoody long-serving Member of Parliament for Crewe and Nantwich.
From Nantwich to Oxygen: Joseph Priestley’s Journey of Discovery
Developed with support from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the exhibition “From Nantwich to Oxygen: Joseph Priestley’s Journey of Discovery” focuses on the life of this famous scientist, theologian and teacher who lived and worked for a time in Nantwich. The exhibition formed part of 2019’s International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements celebrations.
Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen and was a dissenting minister in Nantwich, where he established a school in which he taught a variety of subjects including science or “Natural Philosophy” as it was known at the time. His pupils were introduced to scientific equipment and experiments and historians have suggested that Priestley’s scientific teachings in Nantwich constituted the first ever science lessons. During his time in Nantwich, he wrote an English Grammar, and he is still recognised as a major figure in the study of English by today’s teachers and students of linguistics. He made significant contributions in the fields of religion and political philosophy emerging as an important, though controversial, international figure and man of the Enlightenment.
Soon after Priestley discovered oxygen in 1774, the Periodic Table, a display of chemical elements arranged according to their properties, came into being and today includes 118 elements. The Museum’s Craft Group has embroidered a copy of the Table, which will form a unique feature of the exhibition. The role and importance of oxygen, the 23rd element to be discovered, is a key component of the exhibition.
The River Weaver: A Meander Through Time
Reflecting the significance of rivers to communities “River Weaver – a meander through time” is an exhibition which charts the story of how the river has shaped local history.
Historically, the River Weaver and its tributaries not only provided a water source and drainage, but also powered many mills. Brine springs associated with the river system were exploited, which ultimately led to a chemical industry of international significance. Animal hides were processed by a tanning industry employing water from the river.
An efficient infrastructure, the Weaver Navigation, once described as: “the most perfect artificial cut navigation”, was essential to the success of the salt industry and spawned a boat building industry whose products were distributed worldwide.