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Object of the Week

Objects by Location

All 100 objects

Objects on Display

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Objects by Date

This is an interactive gallery exploring 100 Years of Collecting for Wakefield Museums & Castles. There are 100 different objects to explore. Some date back thousands of years and others are brand new. They have all been collected from our 100-year history. They form just 1% of our total collection to date! They cover a range of topics and different locations across our district. You can explore the objects by:

  • The date / time period they were made
  • Their associated location (where they were made, were found and / or relate to)
  • Viewing our 'Object of the Week', a different object from the 100 spotlighted each week
  • Viewing all 100 objects altogether, in two pages full of 50 objects at a time.
Click on the photo of the object on its page to bring the photo full screen. Each object is accompanied by alt text for screen readers. Some objects have additional information, photographs, links and resources. You can access these by clicking the rectangular buttons at the bottom of their page. Black rectangular buttons will open the content inside this window. Blue buttons will open the content inside a new browser window or tab. Where objects are currently on display at one of our sites, there will be a button linking to visitor information for that site. Click the ‘return arrow’ circular button in the top right-hand corner to go back to your previous page. Click the ‘home’ circular button next to this to come back to this home page. Please note: some objects are linked to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. A notice will appear before you reach these pages giving you the opportunity to continue or to skip that object. We are always looking to expand our collection to cover the varied histories and changing nature of Wakefield District. If you have an object(s) you think might be missing from our collection and would like to talk to us about it, please contact us at museums@wakefield.gov.uk. If you would like more information about any of the objects in this gallery, or have any questions or comments, please contact us at museums@wakefield.gov.uk.

Objects on display

Wakefield One

Wakefield Museum objects

Castleford Museum objects

Pontefract Museum objects

Pontefract Castle objects

Wakefield One atrium case objects

We asked our friends at Wakefield Civic Society and Wakefield Historical Society to pick a selection of the 100 Years of Collecting objects from our storeroom. Their members have picked the interesting mix of objects pictured here. These are now on display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One.Click the objects for more information.


Bronze Age

Iron Age


2000 - 2023

1950 - 1999

14th Century

1900 - 1949

19th Century

18th Century

17th Century

16th Century

15th Century

Objects by Date

Paleolithic Objects

Bronze Age Objects

Iron Age Objects

Roman Objects

14th Century Objects

15th Century Objects

16th Century Objects

17th Century Objects

18th Century Objects

19th Century Objects

1900 - 1949 Objects

1950 - 1999 Objects

2000 - 2023 Objects

All 100 objects - page 1

All 100 objects - page 2

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Objects by Location

Wakefield Objects

Pontefract Objects

Castleford Objects

Knottingley & Ferrybridge Objects

Featherstone Objects

South East Objects

Ossett Objects

Hemsworth Objects

Horbury Objects

Sandal Objects

Ackworth Objects

Upton Objects

Fryston & Ferry Fryston Objects

Bretton Objects

Stanley Objects

Madam Connie's Wig

Made in: the 2010sCollected in: 2019Associated place: WakefieldSteven Ogilvie wore this wig as his fabulous drag queen persona, Madam Connie, at performances in Wakefield. Steven donated the wig to the museum in 2019 along with other outfits after Madam Connie hung her up stilettos for the last time. Steven also recorded an oral history about his experiences performing as Connie. He says performing increased his confidence and helped him through difficult times. In Museum Store


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Sandal Castle Ring

Made in: between 1485 and 1600Collected in: 1983Associated place: Sandal / Sandal CastleThis beautiful gold ring was found by archaeologists at Sandal Castle during excavations in the 1960s. It is about 500 years old. It is called a 'love ring' because it has a lovers’ promise on it. The wording on this one says ‘tout le vos’tre’, which means ‘I am all yours’ in medieval French (the language of the upper classes in the Middle Ages). On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

Sandal Castle History

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Roman sandal

Made in: Roman PeriodCollected in: 1990sAssociated place: CastlefordA leather ancient Roman sandal found in excavations at Castleford. Castleford was known as 'Lagentium' to the Romans. Leather items like this from the ancient Roman period are very rare as they would usually have rotted away over time.These military sandals found in Castleford are some of the best preserved ones that have ever been excavated. They are regularly copied by Roman army re-enactors, who refer to the style of sandal as 'Castlefords'.On display in Castleford Museum

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Roman Castleford

Ackworth Hoard

Made in: 17th Century - English Civil WarsCollected in: 2012Associated place: AckworthThis significant hoard is the only one found in Wakefield District, and was found in a garden in Ackworth. It is made up of almost 600 gold and silver coins and one gold ring. It was buried amidst the chaos of the Enlish Civil Wars, during the siege of Pontefract Castle. It probably belonged a Royalist supporter, and was buried to prevent it from being taken by the Parliamentary troops billeted in Ackworth.On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Gold finger ring found in the Hoard with the inscription 'When this you see, remember me' Close up of some of the coins found in the HoardDiscovery of the Hoard in Summer 2011

Ferry Fryston Chariot

Made in: Iron AgeCollected in: 2005Associated place: Ferry FrystonThe chariot was found when the A1 road at Ferrybridge was being upgraded in 2003-2006. It had been used for a burial, and a man's body had been carefully buried inside the chariot. Radiocarbon dating suggests he was buried around 200 BC. Iron Age chariot burials are rare, and only 21 have been found in Britain so far. This one is especially unusual as it was buried whole, not dismantled, which has taught us a lot about how chariots were made and used. On display in Castleford Museum

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Part of the Ferry Fryston chariot display at Castleford Museum, with the skull of the man buried on the left, the brooch from his cloak second from left, and nave hoops from the chariot wheels: Experts think the full chariot might have looked like this: For more detail about the chariot burial, click here to visit our blog

Green's Economiser Model

Made in: 1912Associated place: WakefieldA model of Green's Economiser. The Economiser was a revolutionary new boiler, invented and patented in Wakefield in 1845 by Edward Green. It captured the waste heat generated by boilers to be reused and therefore saved fuel, increased efficiency and cut costs. Edward Green was born in Wakefield in 1799. He was apprenticed as a millwright aged 14 and became an entrepreneur, having established a business by 1821.Green's grew into a well-known international company by the 20th Century. A new factory was opened by King George V during a visit to Wakefield in 1912. The King viewed the model during the visit. Green's is still based near to its original site today.On loan to Green's Economisers

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Photo from King George V's visit to Green's in 1912, with the Economiser Model on display in the foreground.

Dennis, Big Four Fire Engine

Made in: 1935Collected in: 1968Associated place: WakefieldA welcome and reassuring sight on the streets of Wakefield. The City of Wakefield’s Fire Brigade raced to the rescue in their Dennis Big Four during difficult times. The engine was the first responder during the Second World War. It was used to recruit Air raid Wardens and called out to deal with German bombings in the city. Dennis' service ran from 1935 to 1954. After its service, it moved to Storthes Hall Hospital in Kirkburton, near Huddesfield. Wakefield Museum acquired ‘Dennis’ in 1968. With no venues big enough to display it, the engine spent most of the last forty years on loan. With the New Library and Museum opening in the former BHS building in Wakefield, Dennis will finally have a home big enough for display. A recent restoration project returned him to his former glory.

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New Library and Museum Project

Dennis in action in World War II, protecting the City of Wakefield from fires. Banner reads 'Air Raid precautions. Volunteers required for all branches of this work. Apply City Police Office' Photos from Dennis' restoration in 2022

Albert Wainwright Sketch

Made in: 1920sCollected in: 2023Associated place: CastlefordSketch by Albert Wainwright (1898 - 1943), an influential artist from Castleford. Shows two seated schoolboys by the riverbank, with further studies of male figures reclining on one another. Wainwright produced a large and varied body of work. This included ceramics, theatrical design and book illustrations, as well as watercolours and drawings. This sketch is significant in its depiction of gay love at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain.

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More Sketches

Another sketch by Albert Wainwright, acquired in the same auction as the first one: Page from Wainwright's 'Castleford Notebook', 1928 by Albert Wainwright. Sketch of the cemetery on Red Hill.With thanks to The Hepworth Wakefield:

Pontefract Castle Painting

Made in: 1640sCollected in: 1965Associated place: PontefractThis is a large oil painting of Pontefract Castle as it was in about 1640. It was painted by the Flemish landscape painter Alexander Keirincx, at the request of Charles I. It shows what a grand site it was, and much larger than the standing remains today might suggest. On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum - with thanks to The Hepworth Wakefield

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Interactive graphic

Ballot Box

Made in: 1870sCollected in: 1978Associated place: PontefractOn the 15 August 1872, the first ever secret ballot in Britain to elect an MP was held in Pontefract. This was the first time that people had voted in secret by placing an ‘X’ on a ballot paper next to the name of their choice. Before this, people voted openly and could be easily pressured and bullied. The ballot box was sealed with a liquorice stamp made from Frank Dunhill's factory to ensure it wasn't tampered with.At this time, only men over the age of 21 who owned property could vote. Women couldn't vote until 1928, and the voting age was lowered to 18 only in 1969. On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Liquorice Stamp

Notice of the Riot Act

Please note this next object refers to extreme violence.Click the 'Continue' button below if you want to continue. If you do not want to continue, press the 'Go Back' button below


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Notice of the Riot Act

Made in: 1893Collected in: 1992Associated place: FeatherstoneIn 1893 there was widespread unrest about miners’ pay and working conditions. It tragically came to a head on 7 September at Ackton Hall Colliery in Featherstone.The price of coal had fallen and mine owners all over the country had stockpiled supplies and stopped production. The miners were locked out without any job security or benefits. By late afternoon thousands had gathered at the colliery gates, workers, onlookers and flying pickets from other collieries. The army was brought in to back up the police. The words on this poster, the Riot Act, was read out to the crowd. After warning shots failed to disperse the demonstrators, the troops fired into the crowd killing James Gibbs and James Arthur Duggan and wounding several others.

Full Text

The notice reads: West Riding of Yorkshire Public Notice. The West Riding Standing Joint Committee hereby give notice that all persons assembling in a violent, tumultuous or threatening manner or demanding money, food or drink will incur very serious consequences. The peaceable inhabitants of the West Riding are called upon to take no part whatever in any riotous assembly. Every Citizen is bound and is hereby called upon to do his best to put a stop to all riots and tumults and to preserve a peaceable state of affairs. The public are reminded that all damages to property occasioned by riots will fall upon the rates of the locality in which the disorder occurs. Basil T. Wood - Chairman of the West Riding Standing Joint Committee Francis Alvey Darwin - Clerk of the Peace and County Council (Issued) West Riding Offices, Wakefield, 19 September 1893. (Printed by) W. H. Milnes Printer, Wakefield.

Golden Lion Pub Sign

Made in: 19th CenturyCollected in: 2000Associated place: PontefractThis was the pub sign for the Golden Lion, Sessions House Yard, in Pontefract. The pub dated back to 1848 and closed in 2011. Although the building is now an office the windows are still marked 'Tap Room' and 'Out Sales'. This fantastic gilded lion hung outside, helping customers find the pub.On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Photo of boy jumping

Made in: 1940sCollected in: 1998Associated place: FrystonThis photo of a Fryston boy jumping over a makeshift hurdle of bricks and wood was taken by Jack Hulme in the 1940s. Hulme was from Fryston, and was a colliery worker, hairdresser and enthusiastic amateur photographer. His pictures have become renowned for their depiction of everyday life in a Yorkshire pit village. On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Caption by Wakefield Civic Society

Jack Hulme Photo Collection

By Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Historical Society: Are our streets for parking – or for play? Not too long ago, it was uncommon for most working class people to own a motor car. Industrial towns and cities in particular how rows and rows of terraced housing, sometimes with small back yards but seldom with what we would today recognise as a garden. As well as providing access to people’s homes, streets were, therefore, spaces where children played and people met to chat, sometimes bringing chairs out onto the street and, at times of local and national celebration, holding street parties. With the growth of car ownership, particularly since the 1950s onwards, many families now own cars and our streets are often busy with traffic – or jammed with parked cars. But which would you prefer? Do modern housing developments being built today get the balance between motorists and pedestrians right? Are children provided with safe places in which to play?

'Worms' Video Game

Made in: 1990sCollected in: 2023Associated place: Wakefield'Worms' is a series of artillery tactical video games developed by Wakefield and Ossett-based company Team17. The first Worms game was released in 1995 for the Commodore Amiga. It ensured that Wakefield was at the forefront of innovative and smart digital entertainment. The games are noted for their cartoony animation and humour.The most recent 'Worms' game was released in 2020. Today Team 17’s games are widely available on both consoles and smartphones.In Museum Store

Iron Spearhead

Made in: 15th CenturyCollected in: 1959Associated place: Sandal (Castle)This iron spearhead dates to the time of the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. The Battle was a major clash in the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York, leader of the Yorkist faction and his eldest son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were both killed along with hundreds or even thousands of their supporters. It is this event that likely lead to the rhyme 'Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain', to remember the order of colours in a rainbow.This spearhead was found in the Portobello estate, the site of the battle, and was probably used by an infantryman at the battle.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Bull Ring

Made in: 17th CenturyCollected in: 1960Associated place: WakefieldThe bullring from the Bull Ring! The Bull Ring in Wakefield gets its name from a popular and bloody form of entertainment. The people of Medieval Wakefield enjoyed bull baiting at events and festivals from around the 1200s. This iron ring tethered a bull to a 15-foot-long chain in an arena marked out by stones. Savage bulldogs attacked the bull for the enjoyment of the crowd. If it died, its flesh was by law given to the poor. Bull baiting became illegal in 1835.

Celtic Head

Made in: Iron AgeCollected in: 1982Associated place: WakefieldThis carved stone head was originally made over 2,000 years ago in the Iron Age. It was found much later in a local rockery, in the 1970s. It may have represented a god at an important local shrine.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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'Tale of the Celtic Stone Man' was written by Stefan Grieve, a member of the Wakefield Word Writers' Group, in response to this stone head: A time long ago, when the Celtic Stone Man was small, he would wander the Scottish hills. But his heart desired more.“If only I could see more of the world,” he would complain to his raven friend.The raven would nod and give a sly smile. “There are places in these hills you have not yet seen, my friend, places in these hills that would do with your company.”The Celtic Stone Man travelled as far as he could, every nook and every cranny, from hill to valley. Until he was sure there was nothing left to see.Nestled with the raven in a tree, they watched the Celtic moon together. The man thought the light shining on the raven's feathers brought out a gasp of blue.“I have seen everything, dear Raven, and there is nothing more to see.” This time the raven did not smile.“I can grant your wish. But it comes at a price.”“Anything.”“I can carry you, my stony friend, but you are too heavy altogether. But I think I can carry your head.” The Celtic Stone Man looked at the Scottish moon and drank in its secrets to provide an answer. But of course, with the moon, the answer was always madness.“Thank you, dear Raven. I shall break off my body by launching myself from the cliff to the sea. But please, please catch me.” And the raven’s eyes glistened.The Celtic Stone Man smashed into the stones beneath the cliff, and it broke his body. The waters crashed towards him, and he heard their thunder. Where was his friend the raven? Would he be swallowed by the waves?But he felt himself rising, and he knew the raven had caught him and lifted him in the air.They travelled far, the head of stone and the body of feathers. They saw beneath them such seas and mountains and life that the man had never seen. The moon must have taken pity on them as well, for she gave the raven her strength. Seeing all the world’s wonderous splendour beneath him, the Celtic Stone Man ate it up with his eyes, and his head began to grow. The larger the head became the heavier he got, and soon the raven could take no more, and she dropped him in a rockery so far from home. “Now that was a trip!” The Celtic Stone Man smiled.But the raven did not answer. And he never knew what else she would say. He thought she had left him, and although sad, felt it was good that the raven could return to her life.He had seen enough now, he would sleep.The raven—body broken on the rockery out of view of her friend—would sleep the deepest sleep, and the Celtic Stone Man would never know of the raven's sacrifice, or how she had got her friend as far as, of all places, Chapelthorpe.Waiting. Patiently to be unearthed. And dreaming of the kindness of a friend, whose feathers shone blue in the moonlight.

Sun Lane Baths Plaque

Made in: 1938Collected in: 1984Associated place: WakefieldSkilled designers made this plaster panel as a model to decorate the brand new Sun Lane swimming baths in Wakefield. It features a lion’s head, fish and the fleur-de-lis, Wakefield’s iconic symbol.In the 1800s, public baths played a vital role in providing clean water and bathing spaces for residents who had no bathrooms at home. The role of public baths changed from hygiene and washing to leisure and fitness in the 1900s.On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Caption by Wakefield Civic Society

By Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Historical Society: This plaque was rescued from the former Sun Lane Baths. Another decorative feature was the sculptured frieze on the exterior of the building which is now incorporated into the counter of the café in the new Baths built on the site. Both the frieze, and the plaque exhibited here, are very typical of the Art Deco period when health and fitness were strongly promoted as key to a good life with an emphasis on exercise and access to sunshine. They show stylised, geometric representations of people and animals such as the fish and lion’s head on the plaque. The lion’s head as well as giving forth water, can also be interpreted as representing the sun. One of the painted lead panels in situ at Sun Lane baths before demolition in 2006. Photo courtesy of the Wakefield Express. Wakefield city centre isn’t exactly known for its Art Deco buildings – and two buildings from the period (1920s-30s) that stood in Sun Lane have been demolished. One was the ABC cinema buidling on the corner of Sun Lane and Kirkgate demolished in 2023 – the other was the former Sun Lane Baths demolished in 2006. The Sun Lane swimming pool was designed in 1936-7 by Percy Morris, the then City architect. The Art Deco / Modern building provided slipper baths, a café and a terrace for sun-bathing as well as the competition-size swimming pool. A sculptured frieze on the exterior of the building was designed by Arnold Sharp, principal of Wakefield College of Art from 1927-1956. The facility was owned by and under the management of Wakefield Council. Sun Lane swimming baths in 1963. Photo courtesy of the Wakefield Express. In 2006, the Council made the decision to close the baths over fears about the structural integrity of the roof. The Society called for a new pool to be built on the same site and that the Arnold Sharp frieze be incorporated into the new building. Today, the frieze is situated along the counter front in the café area in the new Sun Lane Baths. Both the frieze and the plaque exhibited here are very typical of the Art Deco period when health and fitness were strongly promoted as key to a good life with an emphasis on exercise and access to sunshine. Buildings often had large windows to let light in and flat roofs or sun terraces where people could sunbathe. Decorative embellishments such as the frieze and plaque frequently featured stylised, geometric representations of people and animals such as the fish and lion’s head on the plaque. The lion’s head as well as giving forth water, can also be interpreted as representing the sun.

'This Sporting Life'

Made in: 1960sCollected in: 1990Associated place: WakefieldA copy of 'This Sporting Life' by Wakefield author David Storey. It tells the story of a Wakefield rugby league player, whose romantic life is not as successful as his sporting one. Storey also wrote the screenplay for a movie version which filmed scenes at Trinity’s ground. The 1960s was a spectacular decade for Trinity. Under head coach Ken Traill, Trinity won the Championship twice, and the Challenge Cup and Yorkshire Cup three times. On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Mr Punch Puppet

Made in: c.1940sCollected in: 1992Associated place: FeatherstoneA 'Mr Punch' hand puppet, part of a set of Punch and Judy puppets. This Punch and Judy set belonged to Albert Massey from Featherstone. Albert was a surface worker with the coal board. In his spare time, he performed his puppet show in Pontefract Park and other local venues. People have been enjoying community entertainment like Albert's show for hundreds of years. These puppets are particularly special because we know about the person who used them.

Wedding Bonnet

Made in: 1842Collected in: 1997Associated place: AckworthThis bonnet belonged to Mariabella Howard from Ackworth. She wore it at her 1842 wedding to John Eliot Hodgkin. The bride and groom were both Quakers. They needed special permission for the violets on the bonnet as these were not typical of Quaker taste at the time.

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Bridesmaid's Dress

Made in: 1945Collected in: 1999Associated place: UptonThis bridesmaid's dress was made out of a pair of old net curatins. It is a touching example of 'make do and mend' in a wartime economy. During the shortages of the Second World War, people learned to give old materials new lives. Three-year-old bridesmaid Penny wore the dress at a wedding in Upton in 1945. Over 50 years later, in 1999, she kindly donated it to our collection. It tells us a story of wartime resourcefulness as well as representing love and marriage. On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Rugby Rosette

Made in: 1974Collected in: 2000Associated place: FeatherstoneThis rugby rosette commemorates Featherstone Rovers reaching the final of the Rugby League Challenge Cup in 1974. Fans headed to Wembley to see their team take on Warrington. They would lose out on the title that year - but Featherstone have lifted the famous trophy three times. Featherstone Rovers are a force within the rugby league heartlands of West Yorkshire. The district is also home to their fierce rivals, Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity.

Theatre Programme

Made in: 1821Collected in: 2001Associated place: WakefieldThis is a Theatre Programme for a performance of 'The Heir at Law / Recruiting Sergeant / The Actress of All Work' at the Theatre Royal, Wakefield in 1821. Wakefield Theatre has delighted and entertained audiences since 1776. We have lots of adverts for shows from when the Theatre was part of the famous York Circuit. This was a run of performances which travelled around Yorkshire to coincide with horseracing meetings. The schedule was gruelling for the actors with little time off, learning new parts constantly and not earning much money.This bill for the 11th September 1821 boasts a performance of The Actress of All Work, starring the child star Clara Fisher. She played seven different roles as well as a role in the Heir at Law early in the evening. This bill was for the last night of Clara’s six day marathon playing in 11 shows.

Caption by Wakefield Civic Society

Full Text

The programme reads: The last week. For the benefit of Miss Clara Fisher, and positively the last night of her performing. Theatre, Wakefield. On Tuesday evening, September 11, 1821, will be performed the comedy of 'The Heir at Law'. Lord Duberly - Mr Andrews Henry Moreland - Mr Smith Mr Stedfast - Mr Williams Dick Dowlas - Mr Wilders Doctor Pangloss - Miss C Fisher Zekiel Homespun - Mr Rayner Kenrick - Mr Kelly Waiter - Mr W Remington John - Mr Morelli Lady Duberly - Mrs Darley Caroline Dormer - Miss Johnson Cicely Homespun - Mrs Home After which, a Musical Piece (in One Act) called The 'Recruiting Sergeant'. Sergeant - Mr Yarnold Countryman - Mr Rayner Recruits - Messrs Dumbulton, Bywater, Robinson, and Morelli Mother - Mrs Darley Wife - Miss Johnson A song, by Mr Bywater. The whole to conclude with the Comedy, called 'The Actress of all Work; or, My Country Cousin'. Manager - Mr Andrews Amelia, (his Daughter) - Miss A Fisher Maria - Miss C Fisher! Bridget, (a Country Gawkey) - Miss C Fisher!! Flourish, (a first rate London Actress, cousin to Bridget) - Miss C Fisher!!! Goody Stubbins, (a deaf old lady of 80, Bridget's Aunt) - Miss C Fisher!!!! Lounge, (a Literary Fop, pretending admiration to Bridget) - Miss C Fisher!!!!! Mademoiselle Josephine, (an Opera Singer from Paris) - Miss C Fisher!!!!!! No admittance behind the scenes for any person whatever unconnected with the Theatre. Doors to be opened at six, and to begin precisely at seven o'clock. Boxes, 4s, Pit, 2s, Gallery, 1s, Second Price, Boxes 2s, Pit 1s Tickets and Places to be had of Mr Hope, at the Theatre, from Eleven till One. Tickets and places to be had of Mr Hope, at the Theatre, from Eleven till One. No liquor can be allowed to be taken into the Gallery. On Thursday, The Dramatist, and Therese, for the Benefit of Mr Mansel

By Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Historical Society: Today’s Theatre Royal was designed by Frank Matcham (1854-1920) and opened in 1894. It stands on the site of an earlier theatre dating from 1776. The original Theatre was declared unsafe by the West Riding County Council in 1892 and had to be demolished down to the foundations. The original Wakefield Theatre on Westgate before demolition, around 1890 Other theatres are known to have existed in Wakefield, some pre-dating the 1776 one. For example, the Mayor of Beverley is known to have visited a theatre in the yard behind the Black Bull Hotel further up Westgate in 1774 and, behind today’s NatWest Bank at 56 Westgate is known to have stood the Corn Market Theatre, possibly dating back to to around 1755 but with a stage only 12 feet across (3.65 metres) Unlike today’s theatre, which opens almost all year round, the original Wakefield Theatre opened just for for a few weeks in late summer – when people would come to Wakefield for the horse racing season (there was a course at Outwood close to today’s Grandstand Road). The Frank Matcham-designed Wakefield Theatre Royal in 1990

'That Shirt' - Double Two

Made in: 1960sCollected in: 2001Associated place: WakefieldMulticoloured 'That Shirt' box. Double Two was founded in 1940 by Isaac Donner and Frank Myers. In the 1950s the company worked with the inventor of polyester fibre, Dr Rex Winfield, to create the first ever man-made shirt which was long lasting, easily washed and did not need ironing. The success of this product allowed the company to purchase a large woollen mill in south Wakefield. By the 1970s their 'That Shirt' range was also at the forefront of men's fashion with its bold colours and patterns and slim-fit design.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Pageant Dress

Made in: 1933Collected in: 2004Associated place: WakefieldWakefield’s year of progress! Mrs Mabel Crook (1892 – 1936) wore this dress to play the part of a Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth I at the spectacular Wakefield Pageant in 1933.The pageant was organised to encourage trade by the Chamber of Trade. It celebrated all things Wakefield, past, present and future in eleven shows. It started with the Celts and Romans and looked into what Wakefield might be like in the future. Schools and societies took part, playing different parts and helping to make the costumes. Mrs Crook took part in the Tudor section. Tudor characters played out scenes in front of a replica of Queen Elizabeth High School built especially for the pageant in Thornes Park.On display in 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Side View

Info on the Pageant

Caption by Wakefield Historical Society

By Deborah Scriven, member of the Wakefield Historical Society: Historical pageants were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Not to be outdone, Wakefield staged its own in 1933. Mrs Mabel Crook wore this costume as one of Queen Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting during the scene in which the Queen granted a charter to Wakefield for a free grammar school. After more than four centuries, the school continues to flourish. The dress is a fascinating link between two very different periods in the city’s history. Mabel Crook (seated at the bottom left) as one of Queen Elizabeth I’s ladies in waiting wearing the dress. This photograph is from a series taken by the Wakefield Express showing the 1933 Wakefield Pageant. Photograph courtesy of the Wakefield Express.

Belgian Refugees Plaque

Made in: 1914-1915Collected in: 2007Associated place: SandalThousands of refugees came to Britain when the First World War began. This wooden plaque commemorates those who arrived in Sandal from Belgium in 1914-1915. It reads 'Belgian Refugees - Sandal - 1914-15. L'union fait la force [Unity is strength]'. This is the Belgian national motto. War often causes people to move from their homes. People have arrived in Wakefield as a result of war and conflict for thousands of years, from the Ancient Romans to the present day.

Imam's Kufi

Made in: 2000sCollected in: 2007Associated place: WakefieldThis kufi was worn by Zanil Abidin Shah, the Imam of Wakefield Central Mosque. It was made in Pakistan.Many migrants moved to Wakefield in the 1950s and 1960s after Great Britain reached out to its former colonies to fill gaps in the jobs market. There were thousands of vacancies in the newly-created NHS, as well as in many industries. Many Pakistani people made Wakefield their home and over the following 50 years established popular local shops and restaurants. By the 1980s, the first purpose-built mosque opened. Previously worshippers met in temporary school buildings or homes across the city.

Wakefield Prison Door

Made in: 1847Collected in: 1960Associated place: WakefieldThis large, heavy wooden door was once used to lock prisoners in cells in Wakefield Prison. Wakefield Prison is over 400 years old. Both the type of inmates and the layout have changed over time. This door dates from a refurbishment in 1847. Behind this door the cell measured 13ft x 7ft with a stone floor with a corner toilet and handbasin. It had gas lighting and a small round table and stool. The inmate slept on a hammock. Today Wakefield Prison is a maximum security prison designed to managed some of the most dangerous prisoners in the country.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Reverse View


Mulberry Bush Pens

This photograph shows the prison door we have in the collection in place in Wakefield Prison (on the left of the image):

Castleford Pig

Made in: 1910sCollected in: 2010Associated place: CastlefordThere are six Castleford scenes hidden in this tiny carved pig! When you look through the lens, you can see microphotographs of the town centre in around 1910. Stanhope viewers like these became popular novelties in the late 19th and early 20th century, sold as a tourist souvenirs or a reminder of home. Our collections are full of quirky curiosities, from the big to the very small! In Museum Store


Look how little!

The glass spyhole with the 6 images of Castleford from the 1900s - 1910s

This video shows you just how small the Castleford Pig is!

'Snooker for Women' T-shirt

Made in: 1979Collected in: 2010Associated place: WakefieldLocal reporter Brenda Haywood wore this t-shirt as part of a protest against Wakefield City Working Men’s Club in the 1980s. Brenda and her co-campaigner, Sheila Capstick wanted the club to lift a ban on women playing snooker. They formed ERICCA - Equal Rights in Clubs Campaign for Action. They began by picketing Wakefield City Working Men’s Club and sparked a national campaign which ran throughout the 1980s. People across the country picketed clubs in solidarity. Brenda and Sheila won their battle against the snooker ban – an example of local people power with national impact.On display in 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

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Caption by Wakefield Historical Society

By Olivia Rowley, member of the Wakefield Historical Society: I have to choose the snooker campaign t-shirt, being involved in the campaign. It was an exciting time. Sheila Capstick innocently joined her Dad to play snooker one afternoon at the City Working Men’s Club in Kirkgate. The local committee, the Club and Institute Union determined that women couldn’t play snooker. The t-shirt symbolizes the power that certain males own. Although so many women now participate in all sorts of sports, the sexism hasn’t ended! The struggles of so many women throughout history must not be forgotten. 'Me with our pram containing our now 44-year-old daughter on her first demonstration, but not her last.' Photo courtesy of Olivia Rowley

Rhubarb Splitting Tool

Made in: 2008Collected in: 2012Associated place: WakefieldThis rhubarb splitting tool was used at Brandy Carr Nurseries, Kirkhamgate. Thanks to good soil mixed with lots of ashes, horse manure and textile waste, and just the right amount of rain, Wakefield specialises in 'forced rhubarb'. It forms part of the 'Rhubarb Triangle' with Leeds and Morley. Forced rhubarb is a technique used to grow rhubarb out of season. The rhubarb roots are taken into warm, dark sheds lit with candles. The industry boomed from the 1880s. The 'Rhubarb Triangle' supplied markets in London and on to Europe. Special trains laden with rhubarb ran overnight between January and March. In 2010, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb gained European protection. On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Forced rhubarb

Autograph Book

Made in: 1917 - 1919Collected in: 2013Associated place: WakefieldThis autograph book is full of signatures of soldiers who were patients at Heath Hall, towards the end of WWI. They were collected by Marion Walker, who was a nurse at the hospital. Carrying an autograph book was common practice for auxiliary nurses. Patients showed appreciation for the nurses by leaving their names, messages, and often doodles and cartoons on the pages. The book is a very moving personal record of the war. It shows friendship, humour and hope even in the hardest times.

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Target Shot

Made in: 1980sCollected in: 2014Associated place: WakefieldThis target shot is believed to be from the 1989 National Small Bore Rifle Association Championship. Stephanie Park kept it as a souvenir of her victory in the 10 metre air rifle event. She hit all 10 shots through the central hole in the target shot. Stephanie Park nee Hopley (1940-2012) was a nurse and midwife from Wakefield. After losing a leg following an accident, she became a disabled shooter for Great Britain and a sports coach. Stephanie was a disability pioneer, and she set up the DIAL advice line. Her proud son donated her archive to our collection to showcase her achievements.

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Stephanie Park in action:

Viv Nicholson Bank Note

Made in: 1998Collected in: 2016Associated place: CastlefordThis mock fiver features Viv Nicholson (3 April 1936 – 11 April 2015), the famous football pools winner from Castleford. In 1961 Viv and her husband Keith won £152,300. She became well known for quickly spending the jackpot, worth £3 million in today’s money. Viv’s story inspired TV and stage shows. In a musical production of her life, a shower of fake money scattered onto the audience in the show’s finale. Viv has autographed this note with her famous catchphrase, ‘Spend spend spend!’

Reverse side

2018 Exhibition

Theatre Club Card

Made in: 1968Collected in: 2016Associated place: WakefieldThis is Isabel Cheston’s membership card for Wakefield Theatre Club, a popular venue on the vibrant variety circuit. The club hosted acts, from musicians and comedians to ventriloquists and strong women. Star performers included Cilla Black and Bob Monkhouse. Isabel worked at the club's cigarette kiosk and gathered lots of memorabilia. Her collection is a fantastic record of the golden age of variety shows. Wakefield Theatre Club was part of the vibrant local variety scene along with the likes of Batley Variety Club.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Map showing the location of the Wakefield Theatre Club on the reverse of the membership card:

Big Yellow Teapot

Made in: 1980sCollected in: 2018Associated place: WakefieldBluebird Toys Ltd’s iconic 'Big Yellow Teapot' was the cosy home to a family of four and their dog! A dolls’ house with a twist, the lid lifts to reveal a hidden roundabout. The teapot and its residents belonged to Claire Pickering, who grew up in Wakefield. It’s part of a large collection of toys and games from Claire’s 1980s childhood. Many people have fond memories of their own Big Yellow Teapot or recall coveting one! In Museum Store

An 80s Childhood

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Inside the Big Yellow Teapot, and all of the characters and furniture that came with it:

An 80s childhood - now on display in Wakefield One These classic toys belonged to Claire Pickering, who grew up in Wakefield. They are part of a large collection of toys and games from Claire’s 1980s childhood. The Big Yellow Teapot, made in 1981 Bluebird Toys Ltd’s iconic teapot was the cosy home to a family of four and their four-legged friend! A dolls’ house with a twist, the lid lifts to reveal a hidden roundabout. Sindy Super Home and Scenesetter accessories, Pedigree Toys Ltd, 1980s Claire furnished her Super Home with a range of fixtures and fittings, including the Action Kitchen that came complete with a light up oven, running tap and working blenders. Claire also hand made extra accessories. Her DIY TV set has a selection of different programmes, from the News to Top Gear!

Wedding Invitation

Made in: 2016Collected in: 2017Associated place: WakefieldMichelle and Lyn sent these invites to their wedding guests in 2016. Their ceremony at the Unitarian Chapel on Westgate was one of the first religious lesbian weddings in Wakefield. Michelle and Lyn donated the invitation to the museum in 2017. It is part of a growing collection of stories from LGBTQ+ people in the Wakefield district.Same-sex marriages only became legal in 2014. Michelle and Lyn's wedding had a mixture of Christian and Wiccan traditions. Michelle’s patterned wedding bow tie represented her Cape Town heritage, with African patterns but in an English style. Lyn chose delicate jewellery and floral hair accessories.

Mulberry Bush Pens

Made in: 2019Collected in: 2019Associated place: WakefieldThese are a pair of pens with barrels carved from wood from the famous mulberry bush, formerly in the grounds of Wakefield Prison. Prisoners used to exercise around the bush, which is believed to be the inspiration for the well-known nursery rhyme "Here we go round the Mulberry Bush". The bush died in 2017 and was cut down in 2019, although other trees have been grown from cuttings taken in 1980s. Wood from the bush is used by prisoners working in the Woodwork Shop at HMP Wakefield, one of several employment opportunities offered to inmates. Pens carved from the wood by prisoners are sold to prison staff. The mulberry bush is an important part of the prison's identity and local folklore, featuring in the prison logo and on staff recognition badges. The staff canteen is named The Mulberry Diner and a nearby road is called Mulberry Way.On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Caption by Wakefield Civic Society

Prison door

By Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Historical Society: The children’s rhyme Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush is often said to have originated at Wakefield Prison where prisoners excercised by walking around a mulberry bush in the prison yard. The prison, originally known as the Wakefield House of Correction, dates back to 1595 when a prison was built just off Westgate. This building was replaced by a newer building, a little further to the north and set further back from Westgate in 1770. This version was then replaced by another building in 1884. Inside Wakefield Prison in the late 1800s. It shows a view down on the wings with an arched ceiling and rooflights, cell doors, railings and walkways. At the beginning of the 17th century, King James I of England (formerly King James VI of Scotland) aspired to creating a British silk industry to rival those of France and Italy and started planting mulberry trees in large numbers, encouraging landowners across the country to do so. The mulberry tree is the sole food of the silkworm. Unfortunately, it seems that the wrong sort of mulberry trees were planted – black mulberries instead of white mulberries and the silkworms failed to thrive in sufficient numbers. A sprig of a mulberry tree from Normanton is said to have been planted in the prison yard where it grew into a full-sized tree. The mulberry bush at Wakefield Prison, 2011. Sadly, the tree died in 2017 although the intention was to replant a mulberry tree from one of the cuttings taken from the tree.

Fryston Flying Pickets Banner

Made in: 1984Collected in: 2018Associated place: FrystonMiners Stephen and Brian Dudley took this homemade banner to picket lines during the 1984-1985 miners’ strike. The brothers worked at Fryston Colliery but joined picket lines across northern England and the Midlands. Brian's wife Lesley was a seamstress and helped the brothers to make the banner. Stephen did the lettering and artwork. The brothers decorated it with the names of places they picketed and Women Against Pit Closures stickers. Stephen was arrested at the picket in Lancaster. The strike changed the lives of mining families across the district. Communities rallied together to protect and support striking workers. On display in Joining Ranks at Castleford Museum

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Top left hand corner of the banner: Locations the banner was taken to, each one added after the march. Also a pair of 'Women Against Pit Closures' stickers: Detail on the top right hand corner - 'Miners join together and fight for jobs':

Bretton Hall College Prospectus

Made in: 1982Collected in: 2018Associated place: BrettonThis is a 1982-83 Prospectus for Bretton Hall College of Higher Education, affiliated to University of Leeds. The college was founded in 1949 as a teacher training college in 1949 with awards from the University of Leeds. Founded by Alec Clegg, the college focussed on visual and performing arts, education and creative writing. It made a massive contribution to Britain’s cultural landscape until it closed in 2007. Famous alumni include Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, who went on to create 'The League of Gentlemen', writer Kay Mellor and playwright John Godber.

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Godber's 'Bouncers'

Alice Gostick Coffee Set

Made in: 1918Collected in: 2021Associated place: CastlefordThis coffee set was hand-painted by Alice Gostick, an inspirational art teacher at Castleford Grammar School (now Castleford Academy). It is a beautiful example of Castleford peasant pottery, a popular style of decoration in the early 20th century. Gostick ran pottery decoration evening classes for pupils and parents in Castleford. Her students included Henry Moore. The Castleford classes inspired similar pottery painting sessions across the country. On display in Making their Mark at Castleford Museum


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The base of the coffee set, signed with Alice Gostick's monogram and 'CPP' for Castleford Peasant Pottery. One cup also has the date the set was finished - November 11 1918. One of the cups placed on its matching saucer:

'Miss Gostick's Tea Set' was written by Susan McCartney, a member of the Wakefield Word Writers' Group, in response to this object: A tea-set, an item so commonplace With the flick of the brush and twist of the wrist Is transformed by Alice’s skill and grace Each stroke of the colour blue Each vibrant curl and square take shape Each brush alive with vibrant hue Painting pottery is her art. She guides, she inspires, serving only to share She’s a teacher. A muse And her students absorb her passion, her flair Students, be they novice or prodigy, blossom in Alice’s classroom Not only a room, but so much more It’s a place where dreams expand and creativity blooms The young Henry Moore Eyes narrowed in concentration Decorates a plate as he sits cross-legged on the floor You may hear her words, ‘Mr Wainwright, your brushwork is quite sublime’ At her night school for adults, artists all And she may call ‘Mr Moore, your painting is so delicate, so fine’ In Alice’s hands, there’s a desire to create in every finger, and on every face For the nation, the humble clay is transformed to a glorious creation When Alice, Albert, and Henry commence to paint

'Nelson': Model Locomotive

Made in: 1843Collected in: 1932Associated place: WakefieldThis locomotive won local plumber Edwin Thresh a First Class medal. Wakefield’s Industrial and Fine Art Exhibition in 1865 showcased the talent of local businesses and residents. Across six rooms visitors explored fine art, local products, models and machinery, natural history displays and ‘Women’s work of all kinds’. It is a fairly accurate model of a Manchester to Leeds railway engine, the kind of which ran through Wakefield in the 1840s. The new railway network in the 1840s brought huge changes to Wakefield’s industrial landscape. It challenged the canals as the best way to move goods around and started a revolution in holiday habits for the district’s growing work force.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Heath Common Poster

Made in: 1844Collected in: 1935Associated place: WakefieldCharles Waterton campaigned to protect Heath Common – the last area of open land in the district. Walton Common had become enclosed for private development in 1799 and Westgate Common and the Out Wood before that.Waterton believed that the residents of Wakefield needed this land for their mental and physical health and it was a haven for birds rarely seen elsewhere. He printed this poster and distributed it for free in a campaign to keep Heath Common open to everyone. It remains as common land today. ‘…what is to become of thy fifteen thousand people, who will not have a yard of public land remaining, whereon to recover that heath of frame, and vigour of the mind, so apt to be enfeebled when debarred from the advantage of rural air and pastime...’

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A World of Good

Heath Common. Wakefield - once Merry Wakefield! - why art thou so no longer? What envious hand hath smote thee, and changed thy garland of roses into one of rue and wormwood? Formerly thy fair face must have beamed with many smiles; for thou wert known throughout the land, by the name of "Merry Wakefield." And very merry must have been thy days: - for thy Merchants were prosperous; thy People happy; and thy Prison empty: - aye, so empty, that time was, when not one single Captive could be found within its walls. There was Westgate Common open to thy people, and to all the world besides: - and the Outwood too. And here it was, that thy merry Sons and Daughters came to dance, and sing, and to drive dull care away. But these once-famed rural haunts for mirth and glee, are now no longer thine. The iron hand of private interest fell heavy on them; - and they were lost to thee for ever. Oh, how cruel and unjust it was to sever from thee those delightful walks, which the foresight and good sense of our Ancestors had apportioned for thy welfare, and left at thy command. All, all is now changed for the worse: and sad and sorrowful have the scenes become, which were once so bright and joyous: and woeful is the appearance of the avenues which lead to once Merry Wakefield. On one of them there frowns a Bastile so huge and terrible, and so appalling with solitary cells, that, in viewing it, the soul of man recoils within him, and he begins to doubt if he is in a Christian country. Things were not so in the gone-by days of once Merry Wakefield. On another is seen a widely-spreading structure, peopled by those whom sorrow, and misfortune, and want, and wretchedness, have deprived of the choicest gift of Heaven to man. We read in their countenances the mournful history of their sad destiny, and we fancy that we can hear them say, "You would have seen no sights so sorrowful as these, in the gone-by days of once Merry Wakefield." On a third avenue we behold unsightly piles of buildings, - Granaries high and spacious, - but the workings of which are diametrically the reverse of those erected by benevolent Joseph in ancient Egypt. And in passing over Calder's bridge, we see a gem of olden architecture, now mouldering into dust, - unheeded and untenanted; - and with its Windows broken. 'Tis said to have been endowed for Mass, for the souls of the slain at the great battle in the neighbourhood. Some years ago, it served as a Counting-House; but, probably, the pressure of the times drove the buyers and sellers from its polluted walls, which were kept so pure and bright in the gone-by days of one Merry Wakefield. Wakefield, - once Merry Wakefield, - these sad innovations too plainly tell us, that all is not right within thee. But thy cup of sorrow is not yet filled up. Another bereavement still waits thee, - and it will be a final blow to the few remaining rural sports which are now within thy reach. Heath Common is to be enclosed! Then adieu, a long and last adieu, to thy delightful walks, and rides, and manly games, on the ever-enchanting wilds of Heath Common; thy unrestricted, undisturbed sejourn, time out of mind. And when the fatal day of its enclosure shall have dawned upon thee, say, once merry Wakefield say, what is to become of thy Fifteen Thousand People, who will not have a land of public land remaining, whereon to recover that health of frame, and vigor of the mind, so apt to be enfeebled when debarred from the advantage of rural air and pastime? I myself will join thee in thy lamentations on the near approach of this great and unexpected event; for many a walk do I take on Heath Common, to hear the wild notes of birds which are strangers to my own domain; and it is on Heath Common that I always expect to hear the first song of the Cuckoo, a sweet harbinger of returning spring. Were I a Senator, - which God forbid, whilst Peel's Oath stares me in the face,- I would stand up, and fight thy battle to the last. Wakefield, - once Merry Wakefield, - fare thee well! I would not have a hand in the projected enclosure of Heath Common, even though poor Charley Stuart himself could come back, and were to give his royal sanction to it. Charles Waterton Walton Hall, January 26 1844. Rowland Hurst, Printer, Wakefield.

Tulip Vase

Made in: 1900sCollected in: 1939Associated place: WakefieldThis is a ceramic tulip bottle used in exhibitions by the Wakefield and North of England Tulip Society. Founded in 1836 the Wakefield and North of England Tulip Society is the only tulip society still going. It represents one of the many diverse hobbies and societies local residents joined and developed in the 1800s. Groups of amateur florists met in local pubs and halls to show off their growing skills and win prizes.

1929 Programme

Tulip Society Photos


This poem was written by Angie de Courcy Bower, a member of the Wakefield Word Writers' Group, in response to the tulip vase: I show them in the simplest way, my column made from clay and glaze: not too tall, nor small, not too wide or light, just right. My plainness won’t compete as I watch beauty from beneath. Feeding pride with gentle sips, they drink of me, like dew. Kept fresh, renewed, for all to feast on treasure birthed by faithful few. So I can collar precious head of vibrant hues, on slender stem, to dazzle all with silken gem. Pay homage to the love which strives, so petals thrill, and thrive. Being of the earth I understand that give and take will gift a strength, make sense, of playing minor, tender part, to focus eyes on crowning art. While numbers, basked in flaming glory, cascade to deeper stories… Of tragic fates. The Ottoman state. Turbans and bells. Magical spells. Viruses, seeds. Hybrid breeds. Objects of obsession. Prized possessions. Charm’s ebb and flow. Bulbs better than gold.

Here's a selection of images in our collection from the Tulip Society: A Wakefield Tulip Society Show in the 1920s or 1930s - this is the Single Bloom Section: More displays from the same show, with Tulip Society members to the left: A display of tulips for the show - these varieties are Duke of Sutherland, Gleam and George Hawyard: The Mayor of Wakefield presenting a trophy at a Wakefield Tulip Society show:

This is the programme for the Wakefield Tulip Society show of 1929: It reads: The 93rd Annual Show of the Wakefield and North of England Tulip Society, established 1836 will be held on Saturday May 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st 1929 At the Brunswick Hotel, Market Place, Wakefield. The Show will be opened by the Mayor of Wakefield, Ald(erman) J. Hardy Richards, J.P., at 3 o'clock. President: C.W. Needham, Esq(uire), Hale, Cheshire Vice-Presidents: Robert Robinson, Esq., Horbury; Gerald W. Bentley, Esq., Castleton; Charles J. Fox, Esq., Moseley, Birmingham; J.W. Spencer, Esq., Eastmoor, Wakefield; F. Fox, Esq., Normanton. Secretary: Irving Hewitt, 4 Alverthorpe Road, Wakefield.

Militia Uniform

Made in: 19th CenturyCollected in: 1958Associated place: PontefractEstablished in 1808 the Osgoldcross and Staincross Local Militia were men who volunteered to serve locally to defend against French invasion. This uniform belonged to an officer who would have been one of the local gentry.On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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A button on the jacket:

Noah's Ark Toy Set

Made in: 1920sCollected in: 1963Associated place: WakefieldA wooden, hand-crafted Noah's Ark toy set, complete with over 100 hand-painted and carved animals and figurines. There is also a little sign that says 'Start Here', instructing the animals to line up two by two.Arks were popular toys in wealthy Victorian homes because children regularly attended Bible School on Sundays.

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A close-up of the figurines and the 'Start Here' sign


Made in: 1809Collected in: 1964Associated place: WakefieldWakefield Museum has some quietly important objects such as this post box, the oldest in Britain! It was installed in Wakefield Post Office on Wood Street in 1809 and predates the Victorian Penny Post by 30 years.On display at Wakefield Museum

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Cabinet Makers Society Chest

Made in: 1790Collected in: 1971Associated place: WakefieldThis beautifully crafted oak chest was made by George Musgrove at William Scott's workshop for the Wakefield Cabinet Makers Society in 1790. Musgrove was a member of the Society. It was used to hold the Society's papers and money.It has two secret drawers and four locks so more than one member had to be present to open it. How do we know? George left us a note explaining it! Early societies like the Wakefield Cabinet Society brought workers together and paved the way for the trade unions which would grow in the 1800s.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Inside the chest: One of the secret compartments:

Wrist Watch

Made in: 1910sCollected in: 1974Associated place: WakefieldThis wrist watch was worn at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 by Captain R. Ede England. He was the Officer commanding D Company, 12th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (Miners, Pioneers) on 1 July 1916. D Company was timed to "go over the top" at 7.48am on 1 July and this is the watch which timed that event in the battle. It is now forever stopped at that fateful time.In 1966, Captain England returned to the Somme for a service commemorating the battle. He wore this same watch with which he had timed his advance 50 years earlier. His poignant gesture makes this personal object a powerful record of one man’s experience of the First World War.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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George Kellett's Diary

Front of the label attached to the watch, certifying its authenticity and signed by R. Ede England himself: Reverse of the label: Text reads: On 1st July 1966 during a pilgrimage to the battlefield, he wore this watch as he stood in the shallow depression representing the British front line as it was on 1st July 50 years previously, at the spot where the front line skirted Matthew Copse. I certify this to be a true statement. [Signed] R. Edge England, 26 July 1966.

Tunic Style Jersey

Made in: 1920sCollected in: 1976Associated place: FeatherstoneThis tunic style jersey was part of the unsold shop stock from Miss Cliffe's Drapers shop in Featherstone. She owned and ran her Station Lane shop from the 1920s until she died in the 1960s.Originally acquired by Wakefield Museum in the late 1970s, the Cliffe Costume Collection is made up of over 600 items of clothing and accessories. The items are mainly designed for women but there are also children’s clothes and accessories designed for men, such as flat caps and ties. The collection is an important and rare record of working-class clothing in the early 20th century.

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Some more items from the Cliffe Collection: Edwardian woman's long-sleeved polka dot blouse, with a white lace collar and bib. A pink and yellow striped jersey with blue hoops, collar and trim. A flat cap in brown/grey tweed with a yellow lining and a printed crest. A blue 'clip on' tie with a wedge cut tip, white dots and a ready tied knot with fastenings. An early-20th century child's blue dress with floral embroidery.

Palaeolithic Hand Axe

Made in: Palaeolithic period (3.3 million to 11,600 years ago)Collected in: 1931Associated place: Stanley This hand axe is the oldest human object in our collection.It dates back to the Palaeolithic period and was made 200,000 to 500,000 years ago by one of the earliest humans to live in Britain. This early settlement ended at the start of the last Ice Age and humans only returned to Britain 10,000 years ago.It was found in excavations in Lee Moor, Stanley, in 1889.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Archaeology Blog

Iron Age Stater

Made in: Iron AgeCollected in: 1977Associated place: HemsworthThis Iron Age gold stater was found in Hemsworth. The side pictured shows a disjointed horse facing left with a star below. The other side shows the abstracted head of Apollo facing right. The coins are known as staters, after the Ancient Greek coins they copy. They entered Western Europe when they were used to pay mercenaries. This coin was originally made by a tribe in the East Midlands.

Obverse side

The obverse side of the coin, showing the head of Apollo:

Sandal Castle Urinal

Made in: 15th CenturyCollected in: 1983Associated place: Sandal (Castle)This curious object was a portable urinal. It was found in fragments at Sandal Castle. Intriguingly, the urinal was decorated with a boar, the symbol of King Richard III. Sandal Castle was an important Yorkist base in the Wars of the Roses. Was it used for the royal wee?We’ve carefully put the boar’s head decoration back together from its pieces. It is displayed at Wakefield Museum alongside a replica of the urinal. The remaining fragments may be reconstructed in future.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Wrenthorpe Jug

Made in: 16th CenturyCollected in: 1983Associated place: Sandal / WrenthorpeThis Wrenthorpe style jug was found in excavations at Sandal Castle between 1964 and 1973. The name Potovens for the Wrenthorpe area of Wakefield is quite literal, in the past there were kilns here for making pots. Wrenthorpe pottery, also known as Cistercian ware, is very distinctive with its dark colour and shiny glaze.

Front of jug

The jug 'face on':

'Mangnall's Questions'

Made in: 1815Collected in: 1988Associated place: WakefieldThis is a 12th edition copy of 'Historical and Miscellaneous Questions for the use of young people', often known as 'Mangnall's Questions', written by Richmal Mangnall.Mangnall (1759-1820) was originally a pupil at Crofton Hall school and became a teacher there in the 1790s. As well as teaching hundreds of young people, she also wrote this influential textbook. At first, the book was just intended for use at the school in Crofton. However, it went on to become an influential textbook used at schools across the country. By 1857, it had reached 84 editions. ‘Mangnall’s Questions’ was referenced by many influential writers and social commentators, including Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and James Joyce.

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Inside page of the book:

Theatre Poster - 'Bouncers'

Made in: 1994Collected in: 1995Associated place: UptonPlaywright John Godber was born in Upton, the son of a coal miner. He went to Minsthorpe High School, where he was later Head of Drama. He is now one of the most-performed writers in the English language and his plays are multi-award winning. 'Bouncers' is one of his best-known productions. John Godber is one of a long list of people from the Wakefield district who went on to make a name for themselves in the arts.On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Caption by Wakefield Civic Society

Tour Dates

Reverse of the poster, showing the tour dates:

By Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Historical Society: Today’s Theatre Royal was designed by Frank Matcham (1854-1920) and opened in 1894. It stands on the site of an earlier theatre dating from 1776. The original Theatre was declared unsafe by the West Riding County Council in 1892 and had to be demolished down to the foundations. The original Wakefield Theatre on Westgate before demolition, around 1890 Other theatres are known to have existed in Wakefield, some pre-dating the 1776 one. For example, the Mayor of Beverley is known to have visited a theatre in the yard behind the Black Bull Hotel further up Westgate in 1774 and, behind today’s NatWest Bank at 56 Westgate is known to have stood the Corn Market Theatre, possibly dating back to to around 1755 but with a stage only 12 feet across (3.65 metres) Unlike today’s theatre, which opens almost all year round, the original Wakefield Theatre opened just for for a few weeks in late summer – when people would come to Wakefield for the horse racing season (there was a course at Outwood close to today’s Grandstand Road). The Frank Matcham-designed Wakefield Theatre Royal in 1990

Wakefield Bank Note

Please note this next object is linked to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.Click the 'Continue' button below if you want to continue. If you do not want to continue, press the 'Go Back' button below


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Wakefield Bank Note

Made in: 1800Collected in: 1996Associated place: WakefieldWakefield’s collections can reveal hidden stories, often diverse and surprising ones. This banknote is one of the first issued by Wakefield’s first bank, Ingram, Kennett and Ingram.There is much more to the story. Captain Francis Ingram of Wakefield used the profits from trading in enslaved people to start the bank. In the 1770s and 1780s he was a major figure in the slave trade, involved in 105 voyages, which trafficked close to 34,000 slaves from Africa. It is estimated that these ships delivered just over 29,000 people to the Americas, meaning that around 5,000 died making the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Ingram’s business was part of the so-called Triangle of Trade. British merchants like Ingram sailed from ports such as Liverpool and traded goods for enslaved Black people from African merchants in ports along the West African coast.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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'English Housewifery'

Made in: 1789Collected in: 1996Associated place: PontefractPontefract’s Elizabeth Moxon was a first-class confectioner’s cook and a trailblazer in English cookery writing. Her book 'English Housewifery' featured over 450 recipes for cooks in middle class Georgian households. It included a lavish dinner party plan for every month of the year. The classic Yorkshire recipes were drawn from Elizabeth’s lifetime of experience. She is believed to have been around 50 when her book was first published. The book was very popular and ran to multiple editions. Moxon’s work paved the way for future cookery writers like Hannah Glasse.Soon to go back on display at Pontefract Museum

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From inside English Housewifery - 'A Bill of Fare for every Season of the Year': From inside English Housewifery - suggested table setting plans for 'A Dinner in Winter' and 'Second Course':

SESKU Gala Programme

Made in: 1986Collected in: 1996Associated place: South Elmsall / South Kirkby / UptonThere is a long tradition of community-led galas in Wakefield District. They attract many thousands of visitors to watch the street processions, entertainment and other activities. In 1986 the festivities included a bouncy castle, majorettes, clay pigeon shooting, and displays of woodcarving, lace and model aircrafts.

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From inside the Gala programme: The back of the programme:

Jet Cross

Made in: 14th CenturyCollected in: 1980sAssociated place: PontefractThis small jet cross was found in a grave at St John's Priory in Pontefract buried with its owner. Jet is fossilised wood from monkey puzzle trees and is found at the coast around Whitby.On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Pontefract Market Bell

Made in: 18th CenturyCollected in: 1974Associated place: PontefractThis bell used to be in Pontefract Market. The bell was rung to mark the beginning and end of trading at the market. Bells were the main way of marking the time before clocks and watches became more common and affordable.On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Fizzy Drinks Bottle

Made in: 19th CenturyCollected in: 1982Associated place: CastlefordThis fizzy drinks bottle was made by E. Breffitt and Co. Ltd Makers, Castleford, for Morrison and Towenend.Glassmaking was first recorded in Castleford around 1700 and became a major industry in the 19th century. The Aire and Calder Glass Bottle Works employed 1000 people at its peak. Edgar Breffitt, a London merchant, bought this factory in 1844 and rebranded it in his name. On display in Castleford Stories at Castleford Museum

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Timber Beam

Made in: 15th CenturyAssociated place: WakefieldThis carved wooden post decorated the front of a shop on Bread Street in Wakefield in the late 1400s. It depicted an armed man, possibly a soldier or knight. The centre of Wakefield once boasted rows of impressive timber framed houses as a result of the booming wool trade in the 1500s. This new wealth started a major building programme in Wakefield. The merchants bought and built finely decorated houses, giving rise to new shops and inns and a bustling market place. The demolition of most of the buildings in the 1960s, and the covering up of the rest, leave little evidence of those times. On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Asylum Nurse's Whistle

Made in: 1920sCollected in: 2011Associated place: WakefieldThis whistle was used by William Morgan, who was a nurse at the West Riding Asylum between 1927 and 1960. It was made by J. Hudson and Co in Birmingham.The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in Wakefield first opened in 1818. It was built to identify and treat people with mental health illness. Though the methods they used are often barbaric compared to today’s treatments and attitudes, at the time they were considered progressive. As part of their treatment, ‘able’ patients were expected to work; the Asylum had gardens, a farm and artisan workrooms. Female patients might work in the kitchen or laundry.On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Caption by Wakefield Civic Society


'The Asylum Whistle' was written by a member of the Wakefield Word Writers' Group, in response to this object: In Stanley Royd, a whistle sounds shrill It echoes through the solemn air It’s an attendant’s way to calm and still Guiding those lost to despair A whistle may chase the dark away A lifeline, patching patients’ breakable strings A calming balm for minds astray Down somber wards, it gently sings A whistle wielded with resolve and care In this place, where souls are confined It’s a beacon of light expelling despair A comfort, a hope, for the troubled mind The whistle’s notes, a shriek or a kiss Each musical or strident melody May pierce the chaos, enter the abyss And a troubled mind may find a harmony The silvery notes, they command, they sigh They control or sing a lullaby

By Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Historical Society: As a result of campaigning by the likes of Samuel Tuke (1784 - 1857), legislation was introduced which made councils responsible for providing humane care of the mentally ill. Stanley Royd Hospital, originally known as the West Riding Pauper and Lunatic Asylum, opened in 1818, as one of a number of regional asylums being built around the country in the early part of the 19th century and which were intended to provide both care and, importantly, treatment for the mentally ill patients. View of the West Riding Asylum in the late 1800s. The asylum was built to a design by architects Charles Watson (1771 - 1836) and his associate James Piggott Pritchett (1789 - 1868). Watson also designed the Court House in Wood Street, St John’s Square and, with Pritchett again, the Public Rooms (later the Mechanics’ Institute) in Wood Street. Stanley Royd closed in 1995 and the site was redeveloped as housing. Watson and Pritchett’s building was preserved but converted into apartments. Whistles such as the one exhibited would have been carried by hospital staff to summon help when needed.

Bronze Age Burial Cup

Please note this next object refers to human remains.Click the 'Continue' button below if you want to continue. If you do not want to continue, press the 'Go Back' button below


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Bronze Age Burial Cup

Made in: Bronze AgeCollected in: 2011Associated place: OssettThis cup from the Bronze Age was found at Mitchell Laithes Farm, Ossett, in 2007. The burnt remains of a cremation burial were found in this little pot. The original purpose of the pot is unclear - it was made with holes in it so wouldn't have been much good as a drinking vessel. This kind of pot is often found with Bronze Age burials.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Bronze Age Axehead

Made in: Bronze AgeCollected in: 2014Associated place: Stanley This small axe head is from the Late Bronze Age, nearly 3,000 years ago. The copper in the bronze it is made of probably came from North Wales. The loop helped fix it to a handle. The three ribs running along the blade are typical of axe heads from northern Britain. It was found as part of the Smalley Bight Hoard in Stanley.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Archaeology Blog

Long Division Poster

Made in: 2014Collected in: 2014Associated place: WakefieldPoster for the 2014 Long Division music festival, headlined by Wakefield rock band The Cribs. Long Division was founded in 2011 by the Rhubarb Bomb fanzine. The festival ran until 2023, attracting big names and supporting upcoming local bands. Long Division has helped to promote a thriving local music scene and continue a long tradition of musical performance in the Merrie City.

World Cup Football

Made in: 1960sCollected in: 2015Associated place: HorburyThis orange, unbranded Slazenger Challenge 4-Star football was made for the Men's 1966 World Cup Finals. This particular ball was not used at the tournament, but it was made alongside ones that were. It was made by Kenneth Schofield, who produced a range of products for Slazenger between 1960 and 2013.Football manufacture in Horbury began in 1880 at William Sykes Ltd. Production continued at the Horbury works after Sykes merged with Slazenger in 1942, and continued until 1969.The iconic orange colour was chosen so the footballs would show up on black and white television broadcasts.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Football Heritage

Tennis Racket

Made in: 1980sCollected in: 2016Associated place: HorburyThis is a Dunlop 200G Max Pro tennis racket. The 200G racket was developed at Dunlop Slazenger's Research and Development Centre in Horbury. Slazenger had merged with Horbury-based rival sports manufacturers, William Sykes Ltd in 1942. The companies later became part of the Dunlop Slazenger group. It was made using a pioneering injection moulding technique that produced a lightweight but strong, hollow racket which could be mass produced cheaply. The racket significantly reduced vibration and prevented 'tennis elbow'. It won engineering and design awards and was used by players such as John McEnroe, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

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Caption by Wakefield Historical Society

Tennis Heritage

By Jean Broadbent, member of the Wakefield Historical Society: William Sykes, a leather worker, started a business making footballs but quickly moved into tennis rackets and other equipment. After mergers with Slazengers (1942) and Dunlop (1959) they became well known particularly for tennis. I loved playing and watching tennis but was never fortunate enough to own a Dunlop 200G Max Pro like this one. It is evidence that this Wakefield company was at the forefront of scientific advances. Horbury has an interesting history in sport, unusually in equipment rather than participants. 1980s Women’s tennis legend Steffi Graf presenting the millionth injection moulded 200G Max Pro racket to 1977 Wimbledon champion, Virginia Wade. Photo taken at the factory in Horbury.

Wool Weight

Made in: 14th - 15th CenturyAssociated place: WakefieldThis medieval wool weight is made of lead and is in the shape of a shield. It features a raised pattern of a crown over a fleur-de-lis. These weights are commonly marked with official looking emblems, probably to make them appear more trustworthy.Weights like this were attached to a leather strap, slung over a beam and counterbalanced with an equivalent weight of wool. Wakefield has long history of being involved in the wool trade.On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Caption by Wakefield Historical Society

By Richard Knowles, Vice-President of the Wakefield Historical Society: A lead merchant weight, known as a Lys and Crown type, weighing 1lb and believed to date from the 14th / 15th century. Their specific use remains uncertain, but they may be wool weights. This example is illustrated in J.W. Walker’s ‘Wakefield Its History and People’ 2nd edition (1939). Walker states it was ‘dug up in a garden on the Eastmoor housing estate’. Walker was also the founding President of the Wakefield Historical Society, established in 1924. The suggested location of the find site and presence of a fleur-de-lys, may lead one to speculate on a Wakefield connection. This is perhaps understandable as there was, at this time (1930s) a lack of other archaeological examples. However, a number of very similar examples have now been found in North and East Yorkshire. Illustration of the weight in J.W. Walker’s ‘Wakefield Its History and People’ (1939 edition)

Bulletproof Waistcoat

Made in: 19th CenturyCollected in: 1962Associated place: PontefractThis is a waistcoat that was designed to be bulletproof. It was used by Edward Tew, a partner in the local bank Leatham, Tew and Company. Edward’s father Thomas Tew founded 2 banks at Pontefract and Doncaster with John Leatham in about 1800. In 1809 they bought another bank in Wakefield. Edward Tew managed the Doncaster branch, and had to travel between the 3 branches, presumably carrying valuables. The roads were becoming safer by the early 19th century, and the last recorded robbery by a highwayman on horseback was in 1831. However, there was still a risk of highway robbery when the banks were founded. On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Seaside School Scales

Made in: 1937Collected in: 2012Associated place: WakefieldThese scales weighed schoolchildren visiting the Wakefield Seaside School (1938–2014) in Hornsea. The children got weighed at the beginning of their stay, and again at the end to show that they had put on some weight. The Seaside School in Hornsea was a bold educational experiment. It gave children from across the district a chance to visit the seaside and get some fresh air and exercise. It opened in 1938 during a time when many children suffered from malnutrition and being underweight was an indicator of poverty.Many Wakefield residents have fond memories of their time on the Yorkshire coast through attending Seaside School.On display in the 100 Years of Collecting atrium case at Wakefield One

Caption by Wakefield Historical Society

By Pete Taylor, member of the Wakefield Historical Society: These were used to monitor children’s health and physical development, a growing concern in the early 20th century. From 1906 local authorities took steps to record the height, weight and chest measurements of children attending elementary school. From 1921 they were empowered to provide children with vacation schools. Wakefield’s Hornsea Seaside School opened in 1938, operating as a residential elementary school for 24 weeks a year and a holiday camp during the summer break. Weighing In: Mrs Paterson, the matron at the Wakefield Seaside School in Hornsea, weighing a new arrival. Hulton Archive/Getty images

Burberry Trenchcoat

Made in: 2020sCollected in: 2022Associated place: CastlefordThis mid-length 'Kensington' Heritage Trenchcoat was made by Burberry in Castleford. Burberry's Castleford Mill has been producing the brand's iconic trenchcoat for over 50 years, after formally acquiring the factory in 1972. It is still hand-stitched by a skilled local workforce, and exported all over the world. The Heritage Trenchcoat is available in 5 different cuts, or silhouettes, named after different areas in London. The Kensington silhouette is described as the 'classic fit' and is the most popular design. It takes 120 intricate processes, 80 pieces of fabric, and four hours of stitching to craft a single coat. In 2020, the Castleford Mill switched its production to make PPE (personal protective equipment) for key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burberry Mill

Burberry PPE

A Burberry PPE gown created at the Castleford Mill during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The Burberry Castleford Mill, established in 1937:

Prime Energy Drink Bottle

Made in: 2020sCollected in: 2023Associated place: WakefieldThis bottle of Tropical Punch Prime Energy Drink was bought from Wakefield Wines ('Wakey Wines'). Wakey Wines is an off-licence in Wakefield City Centre that went viral on TikTok in 2022. Short videos made by the owner Abdul showed customers who had travelled miles to buy bottles of Prime (sold out in many other shops) for high prices. The videos are often accompanied by catch phrases including 'What's the best shop in Wakey? Wakey Wines!' Prime is promoted by YouTuber/influencers Logan Paul and KSI, which contributed to a lot of 'hype' about the drink online. In Museum Store - photo on display in Moving Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Visitor Drawing

A visitor, who is apparently called 'Not Telling', also bought their first bottle of Prime recently! They shared this important milestone in a drawing in our Wakefield Storytellers section of Moving Stories:

Siege Coin

Made in: 1648Collected in: 1999Associated place: PontefractThis siege coin was made at Pontefract Castle during the English Civil Wars. It features an image of the Castle on the front. Siege coins are a type of emergency money created during times or war or invasion, such as a siege.During the Civil Wars, Pontefract Castle was sieged three times. It was the last Royalist stronghold to surrender to the Parliamentarians after Charles I’s execution. Whilst they were cut off from outside society, the Castle community adapted to siege conditions by creating their own infrastructure, including their own currency. The commanders melted down precious metals to make their own rough coinage to pay troops and buy supplies. They added mottoes on the coins to boost morale. The inscription on this coin reads 'While I breathe, I hope'. On display in the Visitor Centre at Pontefract Castle

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Reverse Side

The reverse side of the coin, featuring Charles I's royal cipher:

Atkinson Rugby Ball

Made in: 1929Collected in: 1976Associated place: CastlefordThis rugby ball was used by Arthur Atkinson to make a record goal kick of 75 yards in Castleford's victory against St. Helens, on 26 October 1929. The record reportedly remains unbroken. Atkinson played for Castleford from 1926-1942, making 431 appearances. In 1935 he captained the team to glory in the cup final at Wembley. He also played eight times for England. He is one of our district’s many sporting legends.His wife kindly donated this commemorative ball to our collection before she emigrated to Australia in 1976.

Text on ball

The text on the ball reads: 'The mightiest kick on record. Successful Place goal kick from 75 yards' distance by Arthur Atkinson (Castleford) Oct 26 1929 Against St Helens "The Original Ball"'

'Reight Neet Aht' Marble

Made in: 1957Collected in: 1985Associated place: CastlefordThis commemorative gold marble is from the 'Reight Neet Aht' events in Castleford. A 'Reight Neet Aht' was a unique community fundraising event held in Castleford between 1936 and 1958. The annual marbles tournament was in aid of Leeds Infirmary. The event put Castleford on the map, attracting international attention and star cameos such as Gracie Fields.

Gracie Fields marbles


Two trophies from the Gracie Fields Reight Neet Aht event in 1938, and a marble used at the event. Shared courtesy of @OfficialGracieFields on X / Twitter:

Miner's Helmet with Lamp

Made in: 1970sCollected in: 1999Associated place: PontefractThis is a miner's safety helmet, fitted with an Edison clip-on light. Safety helmets like this one became mandatory for coal miners from the 1960s. The earliest miners had not worn any proper head protection. Coal mining helped transform the Wakefield district into an industrial powerhouse. It was well positioned on coal fields and had excellent transport links to take the coal to the mills and factories across Yorkshire. The mining industry employed thousands of people. On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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A Mining Deputy's Story

Crimean War Bun

Made in: 1850sCollected in: 1974Associated place: PontefractThis hot cross bun was allegedly brought back from the Crimean War (1853 - 1856) by a soldier from Pontefract. Britain and France invaded the Crimea, then part of Russia, to stop Russia becoming too powerful in the Balkans as the Ottoman Empire fell apart.It might be a little bit stale now!

Harker's Ship Model

Made in: 1950sCollected in: 1996Associated place: KnottingleyThis model of half of a ship was made by John Harker Ltd, Knottingley.Knottingley was a port and shipyard for centuries. The 'William' traded between Hull and Newcastle in the reign of Elizabeth I, while the 'Wheldale H' was part of Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee flotilla. Harker's shipyard built over 300 ships, specialising in coastal and river tankers like the Wheldale H and this model. On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Bagley's Andromeda Bowl

Made in: 1930sCollected in: 2001Associated place: KnottingleyThis statue of Andromeda, stood in a bowl, was made by Bagley and Co Ltd (Bagley's) in Knottingley. Although started as a bottle factory, Bagley's also made decorative glass. It was especially known for its coloured glass developed in the 1930s. Andromeda was a very popular figure. Some of the 1930s colours were created using uranium, a radioactive element. Coloured production ended in the 1940s when the uranium was needed for atomic bomb development. After the war Bagley's created a very dark black glass, known as jetique. On display in the Bagley's Glass Room at Pontefract Museum

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Dunhill's Liquorice Stamp

Made in: 1870sCollected in: 2002Associated place: PontefractThis is a liquorice stamp for Pontefract Cakes made at Frank Dunhill's ('F.D'). Pontefract cakes are liquorice-flavoured sweets in the form of small black discs, often hand stamped with an image of a castle gate. From around 1800, liquorice was being made into sweets in Pontefract. Pontefract Cakes proved incredibly popular. Liquorice growing in Pontefract boomed and lots of other companies began making the sweets. By 1900 there were at least a dozen liquorice factories employing 9,000 workers, mainly women. Today the Dunhill factory has been bought by Haribo but Pontefract Cakes are still made there.This stamp was also used on the wax seal of the ballot box used for the first secret ballot in Britain, which was in Pontefract in 1872. On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum


Ballot Box

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Liquorice Blog

'Liquorice Fields' was written by Lindsey, a member of the Wakefield Word Writers' Group, in response to this object: I’m running as fast as I can, the school bell has rung, and I am on my wayHome is no good, I don’t want to be there, I prefer to be wild out in fresh airThrough trees to the ponds, see the tadpoles and sticklebacksMight put some in a bucket to show off to my dadBut first...As I get closer, I get prepared, to take in that distinct scent in the airA sea of vibrant green and purple to revelThe waves of earthy hues, ripe yet mellowI scamper through the fields of fernFind my best friendSat in the foliage, root picking away, the simplest things that make our dayThe bitterness, the flavour, I sit there and savourThe sweet tang of the bark as I snap, and I chewOh, I relish it, the earthy undertone, it's like no otherA woodiness, a sweetness sings to meA floral note, a tart like beatWe didn’t have much, but this was such a treatI nibble and tear at the redolent rootIt’s raw, it’s ready, it needs no charmJust a simple stick right in my palmFor this stick gives me so much joyI am forever thankful to be this boyWho had fields of gold so close by to cherishThe wonderful bitterish liquorice.

Crescent Cinema Piano

Made in: 1920sCollected in: 2005Associated place: PontefractThis A. Mittag piano was used at the Crescent Cinema, Ropergate, in Pontefract. The cinema opened in 1926 and closed in 1993. Across the district, going to the pictures has been a popular pastime for many decades.

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Photos of the piano in the Crescent Cinema, just in front of the stage, taken at some point between 1930 and 1950:

Sewage Works Key

Made in: 1903Collected in: 2011Associated place: KnottingleyEngland's first public sanitation law was passed in 1388, but 500 years later dirty water was still killing people. This was despite knowledge about cholera and similar diseases. In part, this was because the wealthy people who ran public sanitation bodies were unwilling to invest in cleaner solutions. In 1894 new local councils were given public health powers. One of the first things the new Knottingley Urban District Council did was deal with water and sewage.By 1898 cleaner water was reducing the rate of cholera. In 1903 Knottingley celebrated its new sewage works, presenting the mayor with this silver-gilt key at a grand dinner. On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Close-ups of the inscription on the key. This side reads: 'Knottingley Sewerage Works Opening 1903. Presented to J. Harker by the engineer John Richardson M.I.C.E.' This side has Harker's initials engraved:

Pontefract Races Pass

Made in: 1804Collected in: 2018Associated place: PontefractThe first recorded race in Pontefract was in 1648. At first races were held wherever there was space but by 1800 the racegoers of Pontefract wanted a regular course and facilities. For £50 a subscriber in 1802 got a silver ticket for the next 20 years of racing. This was around £2,200 in today's money! The money raised was used to build the first grandstand (the Pontefract Stand) at the Racecourse.This was Number 21, bought and owned by John Lambert Esq.

Reverse side

Reverse side of the race pass, showing the hallmarks:

'We Love The NHS'

Made in: 2020Collected in: 2021Associated place: PontefractThis mural titled 'We Love The NHS' was painted by Pontefract-based artist Rachel List. It was made as part of a series of artworks created by Rachel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the extraordinary efforts of key workers. Rachel List found fame in the lockdowns of 2020 when she began painting murals around Pontefract. Rachel’s colourful work paid tribute to key workers. Her paintings became much-loved local landmarks and her story made the national news. We commissioned Rachel to recreate some of her most popular murals on canvas. The paintings are now part of our permanent collection as a record of Pontefract’s life in lockdown.

Rachel List Blog

Waits' Badge

Made in: 1688Associated place: WakefieldBefore the police came into being in 1848, Wakefield relied on the town’s Waits, or nightwatchmen, to keep them safe at night. Originally Wakefield had three Waits, one for each ward. By 1826 there were 16. When Wakefield Town became a Corporation and set up its first police force, many of the Waits applied and became bobbies. On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Edward Medal

Made in: 1936Collected in: 1998Associated place: South KirkbyOn 22 - 23 August 1935, there were a series of fatal explosions at the South Kirkby Colliery which killed 10 men. One of the miners, George William Beaman, was involved in the rescue and recovery efforts. Beaman was awarded this Edward Medal for his bravery by King Edward VIII at Buckingham Palace on 15 July 1936. Norman Baster and James Pollitt were also awarded Edward Medals alongside Beaman at this ceremony.In the 1970s, Edward Medals were converted into the George Cross. In Museum Store

Special Visit

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Reverse of the medal, with the profile of King Edward VIII: Medal case and accompanying 'Extract from the London Gazette dated 17 April 1936' with a notice issued from Whitehall regarding the medal ceremony:

In 2012, Paul Miziewicz came to visit us. He was on holiday from Australia, and is the great grandson of George William Beaman. He got to see and handle his Great Grandfather's medal. Here is Paul (on the right) with Curator John Whitaker from 2012:


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Anti-Slavery Lecture Poster

Please note this next object is linked to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.Click the 'Continue' button below if you want to continue. If you do not want to continue, press the 'Go Back' button below

Anti-Slavery Lecture Poster

Made in: 1860Collected in: 1923Associated place: WakefieldThis poster advertises a lecture given by William Howard Day in the Music Saloon on Wood Street in Wakefield in December 1860. The lecture took place at an important moment in the story of slavery, just a few months before the start of the American Civil War, a conflict based on the continued ownership and abuse of enslaved people by the plantation owners of the Southern States of America. Several celebrated abolitionists such as Day visited this country and resonated with the working people in the North of England. Many towns like Wakefield had an active abolitionist campaign movement and invited speakers to venues such as the Music Saloon on Wood Street and the Corn Exchange on Westgate.On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Full Text

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Please note: an historical term used to describe Black people is used in this poster. This is not language that to be used or condoned today. The text on the poster reads: Slavery. The Committee of the Wakefield Anti-Slavery Society have pleasure in announcing that W. Howard Day, Esq., M.A., A Coloured Gentleman, of Canada West, will deliver a Lecture in the Music Saloon, on Friday Evening, Dec. 7th, 1860, Subject: "Slavery in the United States, and the Social & Moral Improvement of the 40,000 Fugitive Slaves in Canada." The Chair will be taken at half-past Seven o'clock, by The Worshipful The Mayor. Admission Free. Posted by William Grace, Junr. Hon. Sec. Printed by Stanfield & Son, Printers and Lithographers, Wakefield.

Model of Pontefract

Made in: 1960sCollected in: 1998Associated place: PontefractThis is a model of proposed developments to Pontefract Town Centre by later scandalized architect John Poulson. Many British towns were redeveloped in the 1960s and concrete centres designed for cars were seen as the future. In Pontefract, local developer John Poulson created this plan to replace the whole town centre. Ultimately his vision was never built - but he did build the Horsefair Flats. He also designed Pontefract Library. However, by the time it was built he had gone bankrupt, been found guilty of corruption, and was in prison. In Museum Store


John Poulson first worked for Garside and Pennington, a prominent Pontefract architects, but was sacked because he often made mistakes when drawing plans. He then set up his own business on Ropergate. Not only did Poulson secure contracts through dodgy means, his manipulation of local government town planning has led to the destruction of many historic town centres in the North of England, often replaced with cheap and shoddy buildings. He secured lucrative contracts for housing estates and public buildings throughout Yorkshire, Britain and Africa. When business started to slow Poulson’s company got into financial difficulty and by the early 1970s was bankrupt. A network of bribery and corruption was laid bare at the bankruptcy hearing held in Leeds. Poulson had gained many contracts by bribing government ministers, MPs and Councillors and as a result was jailed for five years in 1974. He served 3 of these years after Lord Longford appealed on his behalf. Poulson died in 1993 at Pontefract General Infirmary.


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Ferrybridge Coffee Pot

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Ferrybridge Coffee Pot

Made in: 1805 - 1815Collected in: 1998Associated place: FerrybridgeThis is a brown ceramic coffee pot, made in Ferrybridge Pottery. Coffee first came to Europe in the 17th century through the Ottoman Empire. It quickly became very popular and coffee houses sprang up everywhere. Coffee became much cheaper as the 18th century progressed and wealthier people could afford to make it at home, creating a market for utensils like this pot from Ferrybridge. This came at a human cost. Coffee in the 1800s became cheaper as it was grown in slave plantations in the Caribbean - as did the sugar to go with it.On display in Pontefract Stories at Pontefract Museum

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Figure on the lid of the pot: Close-ups of detail on either side of the pot:

Oral History

Made in: 2021Collected in: 2021Associated place: South ElmsallThis is an oral history recording of David Holroyd, 'The Dolphin Trainer of South Elmsall'. David came to South Elmsall in 1971 to work at a new training centre for aquatic mammals. He formed a strong bond with the dolphins he trained and saw the consequences of keeping them in captivity. David now raises awareness of animal welfare problems. David shared his story with us for the Faces of South Elmsall project by artist, Jonathan Straight. Oral history recordings are an important part of our collection. They are a personal account of local people’s lives, told in their own words. In Digital Archive

Faces of South Elmsall Project

OH Blog



Made in: 1960sCollected in: 2022Associated place: FerrybridgeThis synchroscope was used at Ferrybridge 'C' Power Station. The Power Station was built in 1966 and operated until 2016. The power station was coal fired, and the cooling towers were a well-known landmark in the area before its demolition was completed in October 2022.The synchroscope ensured the generators were synchronised with the power grid before connecting them to it. If they weren't synchronised it could have caused a lot of damage.On display in Wakefield One upper atrium

Ryan Jarman's Guitar

Made in: 2011Collected in: 2017Associated place: WakefieldWakefield rock band The Cribs has electrified the British music scene since 2002. The Cribs are the Jarman brothers; twins Ryan on guitar and Gary on bass and younger brother Ross on drums. They have produced six albums and played countless gigs and festivals around the world. This Fender Mustang Special guitar is one of two provided to Ryan in 2011 through his Fender endorsement deal. It was used on the set-closing song almost every night on the "In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull" album tour. It was damaged and repaired numerous times throughout the years, before finally being deemed 'beyond-repair' in Hong Kong, 2013. In 2012 they were honoured with the Spirit of Independence award at the Q Awards and the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the NME Awards. On display in Wakefield Stories at Wakefield Museum

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Louisa Fennell Painting

Made in: 1900Collected in: 1920Associated place: WakefieldThis is a painting of 'Wakefield Cathedral from Lower Kirkgate' by Louisa Fennell.Louisa Fennell (1847 – 1930), is a visual storyteller of Victorian Wakefield. Even at a very early age she had a compulsion to draw what she saw around her. From an early age she painted alms houses, chimneys, views of Wakefield Streets, and various shops across the city. In this painting she demonstrates the dominance of All Saints Church (which became Wakefield Cathedral in 1888) The 75m spire is the tallest in Yorkshire. Fennell shows the church here in 1900, five years before the east end extended further down Kirkgate. Shared with thanks to The Hepworth Wakefield

Nymph Stone

Made in: Roman eraCollected in: 1990sAssociated place: CastlefordThis carving of two female heads is dedicated ‘to the Nymphs’, nature spirits usually linked to springs and running water. Dedications to nymphs are often found near military sites like the Roman fort at Castleford. The fort at Castleford was known as 'Lagentium' to the Romans.On display in Castleford Stories at Castleford Museum

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Archaeology Blog

1832 Reform Act Banner

Made in: 1832Collected in: 1983Associated place: HorburyThis large fabric political banner was made to celebrate the 1832 Reform Bill. It was rescued from a house in Horbury in the 1980s. The 1832 Reform Bill granted Wakefield voters the right to elect an MP for the first time. Three Lords, Grey, Brougham and Russell, played big parts in getting the bill passed. The banner depicts them as “Conquering Heroes.” Before 1832 most big northern towns like Wakefield had no MPs. Hundreds of thousands of people came to a meeting in Wakefield to celebrate the results with banners held high. In the first election, Wakefield voters (a few men) elected the Liberal candidate, Daniel Gaskill, to speak for the town in Parliament.

'Pierced Hemisphere I'

Made in: 1937Associated place: WakefieldThis marble sculpture was created by internationally renowned artist Barbara Hepworth. Hepworth (1903 - 1975) was born in Wakefield.Hepworth was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and her work can be seen in galleries and public spaces across the world. Her work was highly influential and important, and Wakefield honours her legacy with the art gallery named after her.This work was made in Hepworth’s London studio, a few years before she moved to St. Ives.On display at The Hepworth WakefieldShared with thanks to The Hepworth Wakefield


Charles Pears Print

Made in: 1930sCollected in: 2021Associated place: PontefractPontefract-born Charles Pears (1873-1958) was a leading marine artist and poster designer in the 1920s and 1930s. He created vibrant designs like this shipping poster for the luxurious Orcades liner. Pears developed his artistic talent at school in East Hardwick and at Pontefract College. He became a prolific commercial artist, specialising in travel posters for seaside destinations. His work inspired holiday makers across the country to head for the beach.

Pears Blog