2016: Amersham Museum receives Heritage Lottery Fund Support
Amersham Museum has received £82,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting learning and interpretation project, The People’s Story of Amersham in the 20th Century. This heritage project will give residents, visitors and learners an ongoing opportunity to contribute to, learn about and engage with their local, 20th century heritage. The first part of the project will begin in June this year and finish in 2017 with a permanent exhibition in the museum. It will then be followed by a two year creative arts programme, which will run until 2019.
The project will collect personal stories about life in the local area in the 20th century. These will feature in the exhibition alongside objects, photos and documents loaned and donated by local people. The creative arts programme which follows will explore key themes and topics about life in the town in the last 100 years, resulting in a ‘mobile museum’ which takes The People’s Story of Amersham in the 20th Century on tour throughout the town and outlying villages in 2019.
Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “From the arrival of the railway to the growth in population, this area witnessed a great deal of change during the 20th century. The impact is still being felt today and our investment will, thanks to National Lottery players, enable visitors to discover more of this fascinating history than ever before.”
Welcoming the HLF investment, curator Emily Toettcher said: “Friendly, local museums are extremely important to their surrounding community. We are very proud of Amersham Museum and believe it is one of the best of its kind. We are so fortunate to be based in such a supportive and thriving town, and look forward to recording and sharing people’s personal experiences of life here during the last century. We also look forward to working with our volunteers on this project and, hopefully, recruiting many more to share in this exciting work.”
Amersham Museum is currently fundraising to expand the museum into the building next door, which will increase the museum space by 65%. It is planned to start the capital works later this year.
2015: Homefires and Havens 1940s Project
After months of research and sharing stories Amersham Museum opens a new exhibition on Saturday 4th July. Homefires and Havens tells the story of life in the town (and the surrounding villages) in the 1940s. Visitors can find out how the town coped with the effects of rationing and war work as well as accommodating the influx of refugees, evacuees and troops.
The exhibition features historic photographs, objects and documents together with clips from interviews with people who remember the town at the time. There are also toys to play with and children can complete their own ration book and identity card. The exhibition is open during normal museum opening times: Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holiday Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, 2pm-4.30pm. We also welcome group bookings, at any time throughout the week.
The exhibition is complemented by a wide range of activities, including a programme of talks in the autumn and craft sessions for children over the summer. Create! craft sessions run on Wednesday afternoons in the summer holidays and have a 1940s theme. Children can make a ‘dig for victory’ edible garden, traditional homemade wooden toys or a mini barrage balloon. For details of the theme of each session click here to open the events leaflet.
Towards the end of August the museum will also be running special Make Do and Mend sessions for children. Join our talented group of craftswomen to learn basic sewing and knitting skills and make a toy to take home. The sessions are running on Tuesday 18th August 2pm-4pm, Thursday 20th August 10.30am-12.30pm, Tuesday 25th August 2pm-4pm and Thursday 27th August 10.30am-12.30pm. Sessions cost £5 per child per session and booking is essential.
Children can also find out about the 1940s by following our free trail. Download a copy or pick up one from outside the museum.
One of the significant stories of the 1940s is Shardeloes House becoming a maternity hospital. Expectant mothers were sent from London to have their babies in the relative safety of the Amersham countryside. Over 5,000 babies were born at Shardeloes from 1939 to 1948. The museum has been trying to trace some of those babies and ‘Shardeloes Babies’ are invited to a special tea on Thursday 20th August in the museum, 3pm-5pm. Tickets cost £2.50. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.
2014: Amersham at War 1914-1918
Amersham Museum’s exhibition, Amersham at War, 1914-18, travelled to three venues in the local area in October and November, including the museum.
Over the last year a team of volunteer researchers have found out about the men who signed up in Amersham and went to war – about a quarter of the population. We liaised with the U3A group researching the names on the Amersham war memorial and drew upon existing research for the surrounding villages and the people who went to fight.
We worked to uncover the experiences of those left behind in the town, how they coped and how they supported the war effort.
The exhibition featured oral history clips, displays of objects and documents and historic photographs. There were hands-on activities and opportunities to find out how to research your own WWI story. The exhibition was complemented by a programme of guided walks and talks.
Some of the exhibition content is now available to view online.
Amersham at War is kindly supported by Newland College and Better Prospects.
We used many sources for our exhibition. One useful resource was from Historic Newspapers
2013: Metro-land, the Birth of Amersham-on-the-Hill
The museum’s special project for 2013 was Metro-land: the birth of Amersham-on-the-Hill. Supported by an All Our Stories grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund the museum researched and interpreted the story of the railway coming to Amersham. The project tied in with the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway.
After a six month research project, in May the museum created a pop-up exhibition in Amersham-on-the-Hill. Over 5,300 people visited the exhibition in three weeks including visits from local schools and pre-schools. There was a popular programme of talks to support the exhibition, attended by over 400 people.
The research included a series of oral history interviews, which are now available to listen to online. The museum has produced a loan box for schools and community groups and a guided walk of Amersham-on-the-Hill.
The exhibition panels were on display at the Bucks Railway Centre in Quainton in August and returned to Amersham to be displayed at the Town Show on King George V Field on Heritage Day, Sunday 8th September.