Spring 2021 - What’s happening at Halstead Heritage Museum? – By John Walmsley
Boxes & Pains
At this moment in time unlocking the museum is like boarding the Marie Celeste at sea. Signs of everyday life, but the crew is missing, leaving an eerie quietness where there was once organised chaos. Is this the result of foul play? Piracy? Lack of doughnuts? No, it is just us trying to observe the current Covid restrictions, boring as it might seem. Our efforts must be working as we remain well, which is good so that the jobs can still to be done. We are working, albeit behind closed doors, attending one person at a time. The dehumidifier needs emptying, computer needs backing up, emails answered, books selling…….work still goes on and we cannot leave it to the mice.
It is exactly three years ago that we finished refurbishing the old boiler room in to our state of the arts archive room, prior to re-opening the museum. I lament over the last time an echo was heard before we filled that empty box with our treasures. We used my transit van and that has now sadly gone to meet its maker. We filled that box with boxes. We like boxes. Thanks to generous donations and grants, we are now able to order our newspaper archive boxes, these should be with us at the time of going to press. The newspaper archiving is a massive task. On top of that Jim accepted for us to be custodians of the Halstead Football Club archive, which consists of three to four hundred photographs, ephemera and many hundreds of old programs. More boxes needed! Jim is our magician in residence and manages to find space, like pulling a white rabbit out of a top hat. My mind wanders back 55 years, to my school days and being introduced to the ‘Sorcerers Apprentice’ by Mrs Moll, our music teacher. Now I am that apprentice, walking in boxes to Jim The Sorcerer, who magically finds more empty shelf space out of thin air.
Filing away the football photographs was always going to pull on my heartstrings. My father Stan appears in several through his twenties, when he was full of youth and ‘till his weak knees gave way. It is the same story for our David Osborne, who’s playing career ceased through injury but his skills were then to be harnessed in history. This archive is all David’s hard work, for which we are most grateful. More boxes needed (strong ones!)
Further donations include an Eastern National bus conductor’s jacket and badge, samples of local handmade lace and a large panoramic school photograph of Halstead Girls Grammar School in 1924 with boys! We flatten out the long photographs slowly as some have remained rolled up for decades. There were about eight schools in this locality producing these pictures for almost 100 years. That means there could potentially be seven to eight hundred images. We only have twenty-two, so the question is: Do you have more?