Yearbook 2011

Ashwell yearbook 2011 museum report

By Peter Greener

Ashwell Village Museum for the Ashwell Yearbook 2011




Text in italics refer to accompanying images

Please reduce number of images if not needed


Part of the Resource Centre


Choose one of 2 for Ronald F King depending on B&W or colour image required

‘Digswell Manor’     - b&w

‘Ducklake Farm’         - colour





You should all be aware now of our ‘Local and Family History Resource Centre’ and an on-line ‘Community Archive’.  The Heritage Lottery Fund part of the project ended in April but there is still an enormous amount of work to do to make everything fully available to the public. Even now though I think visitors have been amazed at the variety of information we have and that with a little help we can find for them.

A leaflet promoting the new facilities was delivered by the ‘Friends’ to every house in the village. They also included a copy of the museum guide and an invitation to our launch day on 12th June. In the morning we entertained and informed over 200 villagers. Many had their portraits taken, brought in local finds to be recorded and asked lots of questions about Ashwell history.


Some of the items brought in on the day

A stone age axe found in an Ashwell field.

A bottle from the days when Dr Moynihan made up his own medicine.



In the evening we had a film show that concentrated on some rarely seen footage of Ashwell from1974 to 1994. Despite clashing with a football match this was a sell out and had to be repeated by popular demand in November.


We are already beginning to see the fruits of this new facility with the production of what is the first in a series of guided village walks available to purchase from the museum. If you follow the map in the ‘Historical Pub Crawl’ you will get some idea, from the evidence on the ground and the old photographs reproduced what Ashwell was like when it had over 20 pubs and two breweries.


The on-line Community Archive is attracting more contributions. Several strands of enquiry have been set up. In addition to the information about First World War Veterans there are now sections on the Pubs, old shops and also House Histories (developed from the Ashwell Alive Blue Plaque Scheme). If you go to you will be able to enter your own house history and add comments, corrections and queries.

Typing into your computer will take you to a ‘world in a village’ where you can see the entire catalogue of the exhibits in the museum. The scans of over 4,500 pictures of Ashwell form the bulk of this and there is lots of related information in an easy format to browse and search. These two interconnected online initiatives still need a lot of fine tuning so if you feel you have the skills to help with this please contact the museum. It is something that anyone can do in their spare moments when they have access to a computer.


It was with great regret that our chairman and treasurer retired after almost 30 years of service to the museum. William Bray, the son of John Bray, represented a direct link with the founding of the museum and steered us through some exciting projects in recent years.  In the 1980’s Barbara Bray was asked by John to help out for a while and became the long standing treasurer.


We were again given ‘Full Accreditation’ by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. This means that we meet a rigorous set of national standards that ensure we are running the museum in an ethical and proficient manner.


On one of our display tables you can find a regularly changing selection of items from our first ‘Reminiscence Box’. It is a collection of things, that you are encouraged to handle, designed to jog memories and inspire comment. The box will be going out into the community with its creators and makes a very jolly session for many age groups.


Over the year we have many more interesting and unpredictable donations some of which are:

A set of copies of drawings from the late 1940’s by Ronald F King. He was a professional artist and the work is of a high standard. It is exciting to find a ‘new’ artist who offers so much of topographical interest.

A wonderful Horn Gramophone that was used to provide entertainment in the Cricketers Pub before 1937.

From Fordham’s Brewery a company jug from the boardroom and a wooden half gallon measure.


All this could not be accomplished without the team of volunteers and the Friends who form the heart of the museum and keep it clean and running throughout the year. There are work groups on Monday evenings and Thursday afternoons when we document, display and preserve the collection. It takes all sorts of skills to run the museum to modern standards and we have room for many roles to be filled. It is your history in your museum.




Peter Greener

Honorary Curator

Ashwell 742956

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