Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Events Diary - 22nd February 2011

Cupcake Passion!

So many cupcakes!
It’s been cupcake crazy today at the Museum with "Design your own Cupcake" sessions taking place in STEAM’s Caerphilly Castle Hall, and the whole event has been an overwhelming success! The sessions have been run in partnership with Swindon based Cupcake Passion who had baked and brought in 500 Vanilla, Lemon, Chocolate, Coffee and Strawberry cupcakes for visitors to decorate.  Children and adults alike have been creating their own unique cupcake masterpieces, using colourful piped icing, sparkly sprinkles and cut-out iced shapes. Even our Curator and Collections Officer had a go!  Check out their efforts below.  I don’t think Delia Smith needs to be worried just yet!

The Collections Officer, Elaine, getting cupcake crazy!

The whole Museum has been buzzing with half-term visitors today and we’re geared up for a busy week with the STEAM Smiley Cats kids club taking place on Wednesday and Thursday. There’s also an Odd One Out trail running this Half Term with a treat for all those that take part.

The efforts of the Curatorial Team

Making decorations

So, if you have not been already get to STEAM for some Half Term fun!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Curatorial Corner - 15th February 2011

A Titanic Find!

We always come across interesting finds at STEAM.  But sometimes you find something that makes you stop in your tracks (if you excuse the pun!).  Recently we had one of those moments when we uncovered some paperwork relating to the RMS Titanic.

Everyone knows the story of the ill-fated ship that sank on 15th April 1912 so when we discovered the documents with the word Titanic printed on them we really took notice.

The first document is a letter dated September 1910 from the GWR's District Goods Manager's Office in Liverpool to James Inglis at Paddington.  It confirms the building of the Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic.  The GWR were obviously intrested in the White Star Line's new liners for a purely commercial reason and probably were hoping to provide the passenger transport to and from the proposed ports.  The GWR had been advertising with the White Star Line since the late 1890s.

The second set of documents is on a more personal level and relates to a passenger who died on the Titanic.  The passenger in question was Christopher Head who was a shareholder in the GWR.  The letters between the GWR and a London based firm of solicitors are confirming the death of Christopher when the Titanic sank, so the the shares could be released.  We know from passenger lists that Christopher was a former mayor of Chelsea and he boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger.  He paid £42 10s for his ticket and occupied cabin B-11.  His body was never recovered.

Christopher Head

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Curatorial Corner - 2nd February 2011

This is the first update from the Curatorial department at STEAM and we have some exciting new objects to share with you.

We are always trying to fill gaps in our collection and acquire interesting and unique objects that allow us to tell the story of the Great Western Railway and preserve its legacy.  Railwayana auctions are always full of wonderful items and it is often the place that we will find ‘something special’.  Over the past couple of months we have bidded successfully (and unsuccessfully!) at various auctions and the items below are some of the items we won.

Cup and Saucer

The GWR had an active Hotels and Refreshments department that used all sorts of china and cutlery in its ventures.  Some of these items that have survived are more common than others, but this cup and saucer from Paddington Station is one we have not seen before. 

The cup and saucer dates from the early part of the 20th Century and was made by Grindleys Hotel Ware of Holburn, London.  It is a sturdy piece and designed for on-the-go passengers who were passing through Paddington Station – an early version of the cardboard take-away cup I suppose!

The cup and saucer can be viewed at STEAM in the Station Platform display.

Photochrom Carriage Prints

Another great object that we were lucky enough to win at auction was a mounted set of Photochrom Carriage Prints.  To find these prints in a mounted set is quite unusual.  We have some loose prints in our archive already, but this was that ‘something special’ that we couldn’t resist.

We can date the carriage prints to between 1886 and 1898.  This is when the company, Photochrom, were producing them for the GWR.   The images are actually colourised lithographs produced from black and white negatives and the GWR used these carriage prints as an early, and inexpensive, means of publicity that promoted the destinations on their network.   Photochrom was a Swiss company that had a branch in London.

West for Winter poster

The Curatorial department always has an eye for glamour and this poster definitely caught ours!  This vibrant and glamorous poster dates from the late 1930s and advertises the benefits of West Country resorts in the winter.  The artist is Raymond Sheppard, who produced a number of posters for the railways in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Bold, colourful and attractive images were used heavily by the GWR’s publicity department during the 1920s and 30s.  There was also strong shift towards advertising locations and activities.  This poster is modern and sophisticated and would have appealed to the masses.

STEAM joins the blogging community!

Welcome to the new blog for STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway!

This blog will keep you updated with all the behind the scenes action at the Museum, as well as bringing you all the latest news regarding events and activities.