Ashby de la Zouch Museum Digital Engagement Projects

Ashby de la Zouch Museum Digital Engagement Projects Blog

The Young Ones

Well it seems to have been all about young people and children this week.  On Wednesday we welcomed the students from Nottingham Trent University who are going to be conducting user and non-user surveys for us next month.  This brave band are going to spend a morning out on the streets of Ashby asking people what they know (if anything) and think about the Museum and what they would like to see there that isn’t there already.  In the afternoon they will be conducting a discussion group session with a number of our Front of House staff.  The information they get from both these exercises should be really interesting and useful to us.

During the week we had discussions with various people about possible projects for the coming year, most of which seem to involve children and young people:

1. We are hoping to take part in a joint project with Moira Furnace aimed at children under 5.  We are thinking that this will involve story telling and simple drama / actions and will probably use the Hastings family as a link between our two sites.

2. We have started to plan a project which will involve older teenagers, perhaps sixth formers, in a Museum-based activity of their choice.  We have a number of ideas involving the use of digital technology to explore our history.  We’ll be inviting young people to come and talk to us in January so more news then.

3. Talks took place this week with our Oral History Archive volunteers and it looks like we’ll not only be starting up our recording activities again but hope to be working in partnership with other heritage organisations in Measham and Moira.  It’s possible we may involve young people in this project too but we really want to resume recording the memories of some of our older residents before it’s too late.  Chris Yeoman’s talk on his memories of Ashby’s Farmers’ Monday prompted several people to think it was high time we started recording material like this and we have not been slow to take action.

We have a huge amount of material in our archives from Ashby School when it was Ashby Grammar School and this has just been brought out so that some of our volunteers can go through it and get a better idea of what is there.  A quick glance yesterday noted a diary of a school camp held in 1944, hand-written by a pupil complete with pencil drawing.  What a fascinating record!  Could be one for the Tweet stream!  There are also pupil exercise books dating back to the late 19th century!  Look out for more on this in the coming weeks.

An A4 brown envelope turned up in the Museum this week and turned out to contain a huge number of letters from the children of Donisthorpe Primary School together with photographs of their day with us on the World War II Home Front Experience Day.  Reading their letters showed how much they enjoyed the experience even though they found the air raids scary!  Lots of them said how much they enjoyed the Home Guard zone.  Their teacher has already asked to come back again for a Victorian Experience day.  The children’s letters will be on display in the Museum from Monday 19th November.  Come in and have a look.  They are beautifully written with great drawings too.

One of the big problems for schools going out to visit Museums is the cost of transport.  Donisthorpe Primary School isn’t very far but they still had to pay for a coach.  Several primary schools in Ashby are lucky enough to be within walking distance of our Museum so we hope they’ll be visiting us soon.  Oooh, that reminds me….we’re taking Assembly at Willesley Primary School this week.  That should be fun!

Well, everything is ready for the St Helen’s Archaeological Excavation exhibition which will be opening on Thursday evening and will run until the end of January.  Plenty more interesting temporary exhibitions planned for the months after that so keep coming back.

Special Offers in our shop over the Christmas period:  two of our most popular books, An Illustrated History of Market Street and An Illustrated History of Ashby’s Pubs, Inns and Ale Houses, £15 for the two if bought together, a saving of £2.  We have also reduced our stretch canvas prints to £8 – that’s half price! And our usual selection of Christmas cards are on sale with beautifully painted scenes of Ashby de la Zouch.

Quick reminder:  St Helen’s Archaeological Excavation Film Night Thursday 22nd November 7.30.  Places are filling up so if you want to be sure of a seat phone the Museum on 01530 560090.



End of an era, or just the beginning?

Saturday 10th November is our AGM and it will be the end of an era as Chairman and co-founder Ken Hillier steps down as Chairman after 30 years.  I (Wendy Freer) have been nominated to take his place and it will certainly be a big act to follow but I am looking forward to the challenge.  Unfortunately I can’t be at the AGM myself as I have to be in Manchester as President of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, presiding at the annual Clinker Memorial Lecture.

Training seems to be the order of the day just lately.  Thanks to the release of a lot of Arts Council funding to various organisations we have received a lot of offers of courses to go.  We have been successful in getting staff onto Leadership Development, Business Development, Collections Development and Engaging Children and Young People training, all of which will be continuing through the winter months.  We also have the exciting prospect of some Augmented Reality training coming up in January, thanks to DEN.  We already offer visitors free WiFi in our Museum and I am looking forward to putting it to better use in the near future.  We should be able to offer our visitors a much enhanced information service and make use not only of text and images but audio and video as well.


Our World War II Home Front experience day went off very well.  What with air raids, food and clothing shortages and Home Guard drills, the children had a brilliant time and learnt a lot about what it was like to live through the war.  To the left you can see them lining up with historical re-enactor Jed Jaggard for some Home Guard experience.  The children and the school staff really entered into the spirit of the day, arriving dressed in clothes of the day, children as evacuees, complete with gas mask boxes!

The next events at the Museum will be:

Wednesday 14th November.  Friends of Ashby Museum coffee morning at 10.30 with Chris Yeomans talking about his memories of Ashby Farmers’ Monday.  At the same time we are welcoming a group of Museum Studies students from Nottingham Trent University on a familiarisation visit.  They will be carrying out some customer surveys for us in December which should provide us with some very useful information.

Thursday 22nd November.  Film Night at the Museum.  We are showing our 30 minute film about the archaeological dig at St Helen’s Church Cottage.  Ken Hillier will give a short introduction, talking about the origins of the Grammar School and there will be a chance to ask questions after the film.  We are also mounting a photographic exhibition of the excavation which will run until the end of January.  Copies of the film will be on sale from 22nd November and proceeds from the sales will go towards the St Helen’s Church Hall fund.

1st December  Kids’ History Club this month features the Victorians.  This is always a popular theme so we look forward to welcoming lots of people to the Museum that day.  Kids’ Club runs from 10 to 12 and 1 to 3.

8th December  Friends of Ashby Museum are running a Family Christmas event at the Museum with Christmas Tree hunt around the Museum, a bran tub and other activities.  Bamfords Auctioneers will also be there running their monthly valuation morning.



About this Sponsor

Ashby Museum was established in 1982 in a small cottage in Lower Church Street. In 1991 it relocated to its present home in North Street, where it shares the old National School building with the town Library and Tourist Information Centre. In 2006-7, thanks to a major Heritage Lottery Fund Grant, a two storey extension was added. It is a Registered Charity and is run by a group of trustees supported by over 50 volunteer custodians. It won the Leicestershire Heritage Award for best temporary exhibitions in 1998, 2001 and 2003. In July 2007, the museum won Museum of the Year in Leicestershire. It works closely with the county Museum Service and other independent museums in the area, sharing expertise and artefacts.