Archive for May, 2019

Museum Display for 2019

The Alresford Museum will be opening regularly through 2019 in the Old Fire Station at the bottom of Broad Street. The main theme is around a Merryweather Fire Engine, one of which was acquired for the town in 1908.*

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On the back wall of the Old Fire Station a mural showing Brian Wynne’s impression of what the devastating 1789 fire in Alresford might have looked like, which was used on the cover of Arthur Stowell’s book “The Story of Alresford”, published in 2000.

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At one side, behind the Fire appliance, a cabinet shows some of the golden coloured helmets used by the volunteer Firemen in this station, some of the fire bugles used to summon the volunteers to man their appliances – for example in Alton, and some of the awards received by the Alresford volunteers.*

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In the other corner, display cabinets show other items held in the Alresford Museum collection of local items, including a doll and some toys from Alresford Crafts, a clock face made by Jno Howe, bottles for locally brewed drinks, and Alresford crested china.

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The Alresford time-line is also explained in five display panels, depicting the growth of the town, and the industries supported.  The items illustrated here are locally found items dating from up to more than 1000 years ago, as travellers along the Pilgrims Way, or Roman nobles, or people in travelling from Southampton to London, lost clothing or brooches, buckles or coins.

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A slide show presents the main display of the history of fire-fighting in Alresford, over the Centuries, using photos from the collection of Godfrey Andrews (alresfordheritage.co.uk).  The Fire Appliance, and most of the exhibits, have been polished and are presented by ex-volunteer fire-fighters in Alresford, Richard and Ann Pay.*

The Museum was summed up by the grandson of a local resident, obviously knowledgeable about Museums, who visited on 20 April: “That was the smallest Museum I have ever visited, but it was also the coolest”.*

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Hopefully there is something there to impress visitors of all ages, as illustrated here. These two were more interested in trying on a few of the modern Fire helmets, that are available for any budding firemen to try!

*Footnotes:

Para 1: the Merryweather on display was in fact the unit that was bought as the Tichborne Park Fire Appliance, some time after Alresford acquired their (used) unit in 1908. Originally painted green, it was repainted like the Alresford appliance by volunteers in the 60s/70s.

Para 3: There is no record of a bugle being used in Alresford, to summon the volunteers to man the appliance. We know that the Alresford firemen were summoned by shouts and a maroon fired from the police station. [See Len Strong’s memory on this website entitled “Alresford’s Fire Service”]

Para 6: Ann Pay was never an “officially recognised” volunteer fire fighter in Alresford, as the volunteers pre-dated the Equality Acts! But the girlfriends and later wives of the firemen arguably volunteered for more hours of work and effort than the (male) firefighters, in cleaning and polishing the appliances and kit etc! In addition, there is a picture of Ann Pay in a fireman’s uniform on display in the Old Fire Station….. which was a special occasion!

Para 7: Planned opening days in 2019 are: 20 April, 13 July, 26 August, 14 September, and 15 September. The Museum will be open from 11am.

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The Alresford Fire Brigade deliver the Merryweather to its Alresford Museum home, the Old Fire Station in Broad Street, on 18 August 2018.

September 2019: Heritage weekend!

The weekend of September 14/15 saw the Museum open for two of its most successful days ever! Beautiful weather and the normal Heritage weekend, plus a vintage Brocante market in town on the Sunday, saw around 500 visitors to the Museum, to see the old Merryweather fire engine, plus a display of memorabilia about the Boeing B17 that crashed in Alresford Pond on 26th September 1943. Many thanks to all the volunteers that put on an excellent display!

While welcoming many ex-fire service volunteers and their families, there were lots of children (and older, grown-up children) wanting to have photos taken in Firemen’s hats and USAF flying caps!

The museum is now to be closed for the winter, during which time it is expected to be able to extend our exhibit space back into the building, to enable a display of further Museum exhibits for next Summer. These will include some of the dolls and soft toys from Alresford Crafts, the various local metal detector finds, and some of the brewing history of Alresford.

 

 

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