Newsletter – January/February 2021

Tolson Memorial Museum and ‘lockdown’

What a strange Christmas many of us are having! Perhaps with family, and sadly perhaps not!

For the Christmas Craft Fair last year the ‘Friends’ bought Christmas trees and lights and put them up to decorate the Museum. This year we had planned to be a bit more ambitious and not just put up trees and lights but, with permission, put holly and other greenery and decorations in more of the Museum. In anticipation of the Fair, we had a full list of people wanting to have a stall but as you know the Christmas Craft Fair had to be cancelled.

We had hope to hold a Spring Craft Fair at the end of March but with new information we have just had we learn that is not now possible. We are now looking to have a big celebration on Yorkshire Day. I will keep you informed.

It is good to remember that we did have a great celebration this time last year. On 31st December 2019 we celebrated the gift of the Ravensknowle Estate to the people of Huddersfield, the house to be kept as a Museum. It was a really happy occasion with the Mayor, Cllr Muntaz Hussain, Mayoress Mrs Hussain, Senior Kirklees and Museum officers joining us. The Mayor presented a plaque to mark the occasion. A day to remember.

As to other events in the Museum 2020 has been rather a sad period for us all. I have really missed the Tea and Cake meetings, they have become so popular with a growing number of people regularly joining us – and I am missing my monthly cake bake!

We could not hold a service to commemorate Remembrance day. However thanks to Danny a ‘box with sand’ was placed at the foot of the Memorial in November. On behalf of the ‘Friends’ I put a wreathe there as did someone in remembrance of the Falklands War. They were not forgotten.

A few of us were able to work in the Heritage Memorial Garden most of the summer, in between lockdowns. As ever it was been lovely working there, so peaceful and rewarding. As I have said before one of the beds is to be used for growing plants that in the past were used in the dyeing of cloth. There is not much to show at the present but hopefully in the Summer it will be full of colour.

It is still hoped that the weekend event ‘Woven’, celebrating Textiles at the end of June will be able to take place though, it may have to be outside!

The bigger picture

As you probably know we ‘The Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle’ are members of the national British Association of Friends of Museums. We get a bi-monthly journal keeping us in touch about what is happening with museums nationally. The British Association organises an annual conference which, like so many others, was cancelled this year.

In the latest edition of their Journal we learn that, according to UNESCO, it is estimated that 85,000 museums have had to close during this Covid 19 Crisis. That number represents 95% of the worlds museums. This has had an enormous effect on the cultural sector, which includes museums.

Unfortunately the problems will not end when reopening is able to start as conditions of visiting will no doubt have to change. Not only that but having to close has had an effect on incomes, though many museums, such as Tolson do not charge, there is a loss of income from the shops and other revenue streams.

Further information on the impact can be read on a statement issued by BaM on the impact of Covid.

The Skelmanthorpe Banner

One of the most famous items in Tolson Memorial Museum is the Skelmanthorpe Banner.

It is made of cotton. Many of these banners were made and taken to protest meetings and meetings demanding the right to the vote. The banners had to be hidden between meetings and so many of them were lost. This banner recently had some maintenance work carried out on it. It was then lent to a Manchester Museum where it had an important place in the exhibition to commemorate 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre in 1819.

The Peterloo Massacre was an event when crowds had gathered in St Peter’s Fields in Manchester to hear a speaker who was advocating universal suffrage. The crowd was huge and this caused concern to the militia, who were standing by and for some reason charged the crowd killing many and injuring hundreds. Being only a few years since the Battle of Waterloo the event became know at ‘Peterloo’.

About Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle

The Committee of Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle meet once a month to plan the programme for the local community and support the work of the Museum. We look after the Heritage Memorial Garden. We would welcome any one who is interested in working with us.

For more information please contact Volunteer Ann, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle. m: 07803159506 email: