Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Appeal on behalf of the Fylde Country Life Museum

It’s time to take a break from our usual archaeological ramblings so that we can post an appeal instead. (To be honest, I’ve been trying to appeal to people for years, but as can be seen from our hit counter that’s never going to happen.) The advertised article will, of course, be appearing on Saturday as promised/threatened…so don’t start getting all uppity about it.
Right…there are two museums in Fleetwood.
There’s one, the more famous one in fact, that’s devoted to trawlers and old sailing ships and all matters maritime. It’s a good museum (even if it is struggling a bit nowadays, when, as far as general society’s concerned, being thick carries more street credibility than knowledge does). It sells our books, so it’s actually an excellent mus
eum. It has a ‘Friends of the Fleetwood Museum’ society to keep it shipshape and Bristol fashion.
Then there’s the less well-known museum that concerns itself with the agricultural aspects of the Fylde and Wyre, even going so far as to have the occasional uninvited sheep invading its displays.
This is Oliver. (No, we’re not kidding…he really is called Oliver and he likes Polo mints, so if you want to make friends with him quickly you know what to do.) He strolls into the Fylde Country Life Museum from time to time to brush up on his historical knowledge and leave little presents behind the mediaeval ploughs.

Back in the old days, before Wyre Archaeology began to encroach on all of our spare time, Michelle and me would spend almost every weekend at the Fylde Country Life Museum, producing information boards, drinking brews and gossiping, watching the curators sort out the displays. (We never sorted the displays out ourselves. That’s manual work, that is. As Ken’s always saying: “We’re management.”)
In those days the museum was run by Neil Thompson (sadly deceased), John Shorrocks (buried in Kirkham), Tony Bloomer (gone to meet his maker) and John Higginson -- still with us but retired from farming and massively overwhelmed with trying to run a museum of this size all on his own.
And it is a surprisingly big museum considering how few people realise it even exists.
This is a photograph of one of the main rooms. It’s not usually as untidy as this, but the pho
tograph was taken during extension work. You’d be surprised how much floor and balcony space the museum actually covers.

Therein lies the problem, you see. With the exception of Mr. Higginson (of the Pilling Historic Society), everybody’s gone but the museum still needs plenty of attention.
Here’s another appeal as scanned in from last month’s Fylde Country Life Preservation Society newsletter:

The Fylde Country Life Museum needs volunteers for all sorts of stuff. Taking round interested parties, whacking school kids on the head, helping with the displays, producing newsletters and information boards, sorting out newly acquired artefacts, polishing prehistoric querns…you name it, the place is short of people to do it.
This isn’t the first appeal we’ve made, of course. A couple of years ago Michelle and I produced a booklet and planned an open evening which, unfortunately, due to various complications, never took place. Nonetheless, here’s the front cover of said booklet:

And because we’re in that sort of mood, here’s the back cover as well.

We’re not going to include the interior of the booklet. You get the general idea.
Anyhow, the Fylde Country Life Museum has its own staff room and, if you volunteer, you’ll get free brews and stuff and even a ‘Museum Staff’ badge, which you can proudly wear to all public occasions.
So, if you’ve got any spare time on your hands, be it a couple of hours a week or ten hours a day every day, and you fancy doing something interesting, community-minded, useful and educational, then please get in touch with John Higginson by telephoning (01253) 790480.
If you’d like a bit more information about the Fylde Country Life Museum (or the Fylde Country Life Heritage Centre as it used to be called), and I do mean a ‘bit’, then you can follow this link:
(And if you’re any good at designing websites, you might
like to volunteer for that as well.)
That is all. Normal service will be resumed at this board on Saturday as usual...and this week's other posting, as the chronological crow flies, show be just beneath this one.


Andrew said...

I don't think the website looks too bad for such an organisation.

PS I can do typing.

Brian Hughes said...


The website's a bit out of date now. For 'The museum is entirely run by volunteers' nowadays read: 'The musuem is entirely run by a volunteer (singular)'. There's also been a big extension stuck on the back of the place which doesn't get a mention...and it should, because Wyre Archaeology has a display in there, so it's porbably the best bit.

John said...


AS you've mentioned, it's hard to get the public interested enough to support history. Sure, people go to these places, but I'm sure the petting zoo brings in more people than the museum.

Maybe you can include an ad in your books, reminding readers where to go to see history with their own eyes?

Unfortunately, I'm a bit too far away to volunteer. Do your best to keep the place going, though... it's sad when these places close, the history gets scattered to the winds, or worse, put in the trash.

Good luck, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


If you give John Higginson a ring he might even pay your plane fare over for you. (I wouldn't keep your fingers crossed though.)

You're probably right about the petting zoo being more popular. I remember hearing one 'young mother' one day, wandering through the museum with her five year old son who was obviously interested in some of the displays, saying: "Come on Callum!" (They're always called Callum for some reason.) "The animals are this way. This bit's boring."

And then they wonder why...

John said...

That's exactly what I was talking about... I hear these things all teh time. PArents drag kids 'out' because it's 'good for them', but then impose their own ideas upon them of what they would be interested in. Parents should really expose their kids to all kinds of things, and let THEM decide what's interesting.

Sad... History can be dry, I'll admit, but most people can find something to interest them if they just look around.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


They want to try surveying the top of Bourne Hill at this time of year. History for 'em certainly wouldn't be dry then...

Jayne said...

Snaffle 'em in by re-writing it as "re-discover the green and eco-friendly ways of the past" or some such and emphasise how a volunteer job (and experience) looks damn good on anyone's CV.

Brian Hughes said...


That wouldn't least not in Britain. We've had thirty-odd years now of various governments promising/misleading us that 'Training Courses' etc. will make a person's CV look good, and, to be honest, we've all become a bit jaded. As for the eco-friendly angle, it's difficult to believe in dimming the light in your living room when, up the road, Blackpool's got thirty-odd million of 'em blazing away every night during the illuminations. It's all a bit cynical really. recommendation is to advertise the museum as 'a quiet place where you can get a free brew'. At least it's honest.

Anonymous said...

Try having an 'underground' brothel there as well. That'd bring cash.

Brian Hughes said...


There's too much local competition've just been advised for legal reasons not to go there. (And medical reasons too, I suspect.)