Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trevor Huddleston wins the day

Father Trevor Huddleston by David Litchfield, 2011.
On Saturday 8th September we were invited to participate in Heritage Open Day at St. Paul's Church, Bedford. The theme was 'Great Bedfordians' which was great because it tied in with work we had been doing writing a regular 'Great Bedfordian' column for local community newspaper The Bedford Clanger and researching Great Bedfordians for the People Gallery, one of the new galleries that will be in The Higgins when it reopens.

So, we decided we would run an election. We made a shortlist of candidates. Borrowed a genuine ballot box and created some campaign leaflets for our candidates. Our shortlist was by no means a comprehensive list of Great Bedfordians, so we allowed our voters the opportunity to nominate some new Bedfordians if they preferred.

We wanted to find out which of the stories resonated most with people today and why. The information and comments we collected will help us during the planning of the People Gallery which will host changing exhibitions about the people of Bedford and its surrounding borough. Some of them will be the famous names we are all familiar with, but there is also space for less well known stories and even some contemporary 'Great Bedfordians'. 

Our shortlist included:

  • Amy Walmsley - Suffragist and Headmistress of the Froebel School
  • Charlotte Bousfield - temperance advocate and diarist
  • Colonel Frederick Burnaby - Victorian adventurer
  • Etienne Stott - Olympic gold medallist
  • Father Trevor Huddleston - anti-apartheid campaigner
  • Frank Wild - polar explorer
  • James Howard - agriculturalist, inventor and politician. Founder of Britannia Iron Works.
  • Joe Clough - taxi driver and war veteran
  • John Howard - prison reformer
  • Margaret Beaufort - Mother to Henry VII
  • Sir William Harpur - philanthropist and Lord Mayor of London
  • W H Allen - engineer
You can read all about our Great Bedfordians on this PDF

Trevor Huddleston won our election by a significant margin. Here is what you said about him:

'Horizons so far beyond Bedford' 'He has been and is an inspiration' 'A man who wasn't deterred by danger to himself.'

Three candidates were tied for second place: William Harpur, WH Allen and Margaret Beaufort.
Many people commented that they owed their education to the kindness of William Harpur. And many visitors said they had worked for WH Allen and said he had 'given Bedford prominence and made them known throughout the world.' Margaret Beaufort's story earned respect and interest from many as she had 'dominated during a time of male power.'

We had some great nominations for Bedfordians not included in our shortlist as well. These included

  • Ronnie Barker - comedian, 
  • Jack Beresford - olympic oarsman, 
  • Colonel Nicolls - who named New York, 
  • David Jackson - Head Teacher of Sharnbrook Upper School for many years, 
  • David Litchfield - illustrator and musician, 
  • Johnny Parry - composer,
  • Mo Lea - artist that campaigns for Victim Support  

and many more...

We had great fun running this election. We'd like to thank all of the participants that cast their vote and came to talk to us as well as saying a big thank you to our hosts, St Paul's Church. Hopefully, we'll get to run some more elections soon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cast your vote at Heritage Open Day

We'll be participating in this years Heritage Open Day. There are lots of events during the weekend but we will be at St. Paul's Church on Saturday 8th September from 10am till 4pm.

The theme for the day is 'Great Bedfordians' which is perfect because it has given us the chance to offer a sneak preview of plans for the People Gallery which is one of the new galleries planned for The Higgins when it reopens in spring 2013.

The People Gallery will hold changing exhibitions about Great Bedfordians. Some of these Bedfordians are the famous builders of Bedford that you're probably all familiar with - John Bunyan, Sir William Harpur and John Howard. But we also want to include those that may have been overlooked in the past and even those that might be 'Great Bedfordians' of the future.

That's why we're planning to hold an election. Heritage Open Day is your chance to vote for your favourite Bedfordians and to nominate those that may have been overlooked to date.

So come along and cast your vote.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ask a Curator 2012

You may remember a couple of years ago that we participated in the Ask a Curator project where anyone could ask a question to our curators via the wonderful medium of Twitter. This year Ask a Curator day is on 19th September and all our curatorial staff will be on hand, iphone or desktop to answer your questions. You can also follow the #askacurator hashtag  (a tag which allows others to find your message easily) and see what people are asking curators at participating museums all over the world. 

Of course, since last time we've changed our name and our twitter handle too so make sure you head to to follow the news on the redevelopment and all our questions and answers.We'll be keen to share the new things we've discovered about our collections while researching the new displays and answering any questions about old favourites in the collections, as well as anything else you can think to ask! If you have questions for museums around the world, or are just interested to see who else is participating head over to the Ask a Curator Who to Ask? page.