Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Curatorial Corner - 27th April 2011

Loaned print of Maidenhead Bridge
 The Railway meets the River

The Curatorial Department took a visit to the River and Rowing Museum at Henley on Thames yesterday.  What has a museum like this got to do with the Great Western Railway?  More than you think!

Last year we were contacted by the team at Henley who were in the process of putting together a new exhibition on the Victorian's growing interest in the Thames as a holiday and tourist destination.  The Great Western Railway served Henley, as well as other places along this famous river.  Before the coming of the railway it could take 5 hours to reach Henley by stagecoach, but the building of the GWR allowed ordinary people the chance to travel to new destinations in a much shorter time.  The Thames at places like Henley, Windsor, Marlow and Pangbourne was a lot more idylic and cleaner than it was in the capital, London.  During the 19th Century the Thames in London was a busy shipping port and extremely dirty.  It wasn't a tourist destination like it is today.

Picnic basket, truncheon and other
loaned objects

The exhibition, Escaping the City - The Victorian on the Thames, borrowed objects and archive material from the collection at STEAM to help illustrate the railway's involvement in tourism on the Thames.  It was great to see our objects in a different environment!  Some of the items on show were a GWR picnic basket and tea pot.  These would have been purchased at one of the major stations, like Paddington, and filled with lots of goodies to keep day trippers happy as they lounged on the banks of the Thames, or took a ride on a river boat.  We also loaned a GWR Policeman's truncheon.  The railway police had a presence at the Henley Regatta and ensured people got to and from the station without incident.

The Curatorial Department had a great time at the River and Rowing Museum and enjoyed seeing STEAM's objects displayed in such a fascinating exhibition.  Escaping the City closes on Monday 2nd May 2011.

River and Rowing Museum website -

Escaping the City exhibition

Collections Officer, Elaine, by the Sydney
Olympic's winning GB coxless four boat

No comments:

Post a Comment