Sunday, 14 March 2010

From Cradle to Grave Exhibition

Friday and yesterday an exhibition was held in a vacant shop in the Ridings Centre, Wakefield, the second in the series of 'A Window to your Past' organised by Allan Black - sorry to let you know after the event but I did promote on the messageboard and mailing list that Wakefield & District Family History Society ( were involved with the libraries, archives and museum and Christine Ellis with her displays of costumes.

Anyway, with one of my other 'hats' on I manned our section with a few other stalwarts. What a couple of days. The doors opened at 9.30 but eager beavers were waiting outside. Many people came only to see the exhibits, but many, many more were shoppers and passers-by who just 'dropped in'. Or, visitors to Wakefield that had come to the City to see the Yorkshire Regiment being granted the Freedom of the City. But either way, all from the young to the old enjoyed their stay.

The young played with toys from a past era, wrote with a quill pen or tried to put money into a money box. While, the more mature person looked at the photographs or looked for relatives who were killed in mining disasters. Many of those visitors were ex-miners who brought in their own memories and photographs.

At all the stands people asked questions and listened eagerly at the replies. I recognised faces from my childhood and caught up on years lost. I remember in particular one lady came in and said she had some glass photographs hanging on the wall, she knew who two were but not the other, although it was a family member. She went on to explain that her late husband had tried to clean them but the image came off as a powder and he quickly left them alone. I told her I thought they could be late 1800's from the costumes she described but could not be sure. I told the lady she should keep them safe and pass them on to someone who would appreciate and care for them. I called the lady from the museum over and she confirmed what I'd said but again would need to see them. The lady went away happy as she did not realise that glass photographs were rare - you can drop a paper photograph, but drop a glass one and its more than likely destroyed.

Another visitor I spoke to stated he had a small display of old photo's where he worked but did not know who many of them were. He went onto explain how he had a number of military pics and again was not aware of who they were. At this point my 'hat' changed into Wakefield Family History Sharing mode and I spoke of how sad it was that no one knew who they were and could I loan the images to put on the internet and see if anyone was recognised. At this point he also told me there were letters included in this batch and I could have them. So watch this space for the soldiers info.

After two days, many of us had aching feet and backs and really wanted to sit down with a good cuppa but the high of the past two days and the fact that nearly 3000 people had come through the doors all made it worth while.

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