Christmas Countdown 2019 – December 15: Port Sunlight

Today’s entry comes from Port Sunlight Village Trust:

Object Name: Bar of Sunlight Soap

Port SunLight Museum

Photo Credit: Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT)

Description: A bar of soap from the first boil at the new Lever Brothers factory at Port Sunlight. This was the first of billions of soap bars made there, bringing affordable, pure soap, hygiene and cleanliness to the households of working class families.

As a travelling salesman working across industrial Lancashire, William Lever witnessed the slum conditions and ensuing poor productivity in mills. Deciding to set up a business producing his own soap he created an affordable good quality product, making cleanliness accessible. In 1888 he founded a new factory on the banks of the River Mersey.

Alongside the factory, Lever built high quality housing for his workers and named the village after his product. Port Sunlight village gave working people healthy homes and leisure, increasing their productivity at work. His creative advertising made his soap a global household name, and his village continues to inspire town planners.

For more information about Port Sunlight Village Trust visit

Twitter: @PortSunlight
Facebook: @portsunlightvillagetrust

PSVT Logo Portrait

Christmas Countdown 2019 – December 14: Bury Art Museum

Today’s entry comes from Bury Art Museum:

Object Name: The Day After Christmas, Mark Launcelot Symons

Symons, Mark - The Day After Christmas [BUYGM.0410.1931]

Description: Oil on canvas laid on board, signed and dated 1931. Purchased from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1931.

In The Day after Christmas, the artist Mark Symons gives us a nostalgic glimpse of a time we can all relate to. Using his own children as models, the scene is filled with an anarchic clutter of toys, brilliantly coloured cut-paper Christmas decorations and highlights the family that surround us during this period. Painted in a forthright and direct manner, the painting has a brooding intensity that exudes the boredom and chaos after the build up to Christmas, but also the sense of joy that comes with it.

Symons was a devout man and considered taking holy orders before finally deciding to become a painter. The religious significance of Christmas is reinforced by the presence of a crib in the background with a bright star on the roof, which is at the apex of the composition.

For more information about Bury Art Museum visit

Twitter: @buryartmuseum
Instagram:  @bury_art_museum
Facebook: @buryartgallery

Bury AM+SC

Job opportunity: Museums Partnership Officer, Cambridgeshire County Council

Employer: Cambridgeshire County Council

Based in: Cambridge

Contract: full time
Salary: £26,999 – £28,785
Closing date: 13 January 2020

Cambridgeshire County Council seek an experienced museum professional who is able to provide support, help and advice to over twenty independent museums across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The successful candidate will support museums to achieve and maintain the Museums Accreditation Standard. You will also have a key role in the implementation of their newly agreed Museums in Cambridgeshire Strategic Plan and will work closely with SHARE Museums East. The post holder will be able to demonstrate sound experience across a wide range of museum functions, ideally including governance, business and resilience development, collections management, education and audience engagement. You will represent the County Council and provide advice on all museum matters to Council colleagues and elected members as required.

The person they are looking for will be educated to Key Skill Level 4, well organised and have the ability to use office IT systems. You will have experience of applying for external funding and in successfully managing multi-partner projects. You will collaborate with external and internal colleagues in order to develop engaging heritage projects and raise the profile of museums. You will be confident in advocating the benefits of museums to a wide range of stakeholders and will represent the independent museums sector at strategic level. You will have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to demonstrate effective use of media communications. You must be able to travel freely across the County and to work flexibly.

The post is offered on a fixed term basis until March 2022. The post may be extended, subject to external funding.

Closing date 13th January 2020, midday. Interviews will be held week commencing 20th January 2020. For more information including full job description and how to apply click here.

Christmas Countdown 2019 – December 13: Smithy Heritage Centre

Today’s entry comes from Smithy Heritage Centre in Eccleston, St Helens.

Object Name: Rocking Horse Toy

Smithy Heritage Centre Rocking Horse Toy

Description: This miniature rocking horse is thought to have been made by Peter Hall or his son Elias, ‘Ellis’, the blacksmiths that ran the Smithy when it was a working forge. Although the horse is unpainted and corroded from being in the earth, it is a lovely example of a rustic home-made toy, made from two pieces of waste sheet metal hammered and shaped to form the contours of the horse’s head and body. As well as tools and horseshoes, they would make hoops for the local children to play with using leftover bits of iron. Often these would get broken and the blacksmith would repair them, each time making the hoop a little smaller, until they ended up with very small versions of the original! This object is a charming glimpse into Christmas past.

For more information about the Smithy Heritage Centre visit

2020 Working Internationally Conference: Soft Power in Turbulent Times


Tickets are now on sale for the 2020 Working Internationally Conference on Thursday 12 March at Leeds Art Gallery.

ICOM UK and NMDC members can book tickets at the special price of £49 (regular tickets are £79).  There are a limited number of tickets for students at £29 (only 8 tickets remaining).  Tickets can be booked online at

The UK lost its #1 ranking in this year’s Soft Power 30 index. Why? Brexit and the internal turbulence that has dominated headlines and shifted time and energy away from international diplomacy. According to the authors of the index, the UK clung to the #2 spot due to its high performance in the ‘engagement, culture, education, and digital’ categories, which made up for a lacklustre performance in the government and enterprise categories.

As Brexit rumbles on, the 2020 Working Internationally conference will examine the role museums and galleries can play in supporting UK soft power. The 2017 report Britain’s Global Future: Harnessing the soft power capital of UK institutions made a powerful case for the role of museums in promoting the nation’s cultural values and contributing to its economy. Recognizing the international significance of culture, the Mendoza Review looked at how museums might support soft power and the British Council published research in 2018 that showed that what people love about a country are not products of governments but of people and institutions like museums.

The 2020 Working Internationally Conference will examine the variety of ways in which museums and galleries create and influence soft power. We will hear from a range of representatives from museums and galleries, government agencies and NGOs to understand the interplay between policy, business and culture in the shaping of diplomacy. The conference will also explore the relationship between soft power and museum sector issues such as decolonization and digital engagement.

The Working Internationally Conference is organised by ICOM UK and NMDC with support from the British Council.

Christmas Countdown 2019 – December 12: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

Today’s entry comes from Warrington Museum & Art Gallery:

Object Name: Fiji MermaidMermaid j.jpg

Description: ‘On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me … a mermaid from Fiji.’ This rare two-headed mermaid brought back to Warrington as a gift from a travelling sailor isn’t actually a mermaid of course, it isn’t even from Fiji. This is a ningyo from Japan, an example of a traditional Japanese craft that involves mixing animal and fish parts to create grotesque figurines. The resulting figures were exhibited throughout Japan to paying customers in travelling shows known as misemono.

In the mid-19th century America’s ‘greatest showman’ P.T. Barnum famously acquired one of these mermaids and exhibited it around the United States as the body of a ‘real’ mermaid captured in a fishing net near Fiji. The exhibit was so popular that these figurines have been known as ‘Fiji Mermaids’ ever since.


For more information about Warrington Museum & Art Gallery visit

Facebook: WarringtonMuseum
Twitter: @warringtonmus


Job opportunity: Freelance Project Coordinator, Tameside Local Studies & Archive Service

Freelance Project Coordinator, SMILE! Project, Tameside Local Studies & Archive Service
Fee: £21,000
Location: Tameside Local Studies & Archive Service
Hours: Part-time, 2 days per week
Contract: Fixed term, 14 month
Closing date: Tuesday 17thDecember 2019


Tameside Local Studies and Archives service wants to digitise, catalogue and share around 26,000 photographs from the previously unseen photographic archive of the Tameside Reporter (1950s–2000s). Of these, around 19,000 are glass plates that will be professionally scanned, with the other 7,000 items scanned by volunteers.


  1. To manage and co-ordinate the “Smile! Reporting Tameside’s Social History” project at Tameside Archives and Local Studies.
  2. To be responsible for the effective management of volunteers and other resources within the project.
  3. To ensure the maintenance of high standards of public service throughout the project.
  4. To actively liaise with other local authority, third sector, private and community partners in the project.
  5. To ensure high standards of care, enquiry, preservation and access, promoting local studies, family history and archival referencing.
  6. To co-ordinate and lead a dynamic interpretation and event programme within the Local Studies and Archive Service, working with other colleagues in Cultural service to produce a varied and relevant programme for the Tameside Community.
  7. To supervise the project volunteer programme (including a training programme) and procure digitisation.
  8. To ensure that professional and ethical standards are maintained and procedures and policies adhered to meet national standards.
  9. To develop and present reports to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, officers, members, partners and community groups in relation to the project.
  10. To contribute to the effective marketing of the project including social media.
  11. To be responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act, associated regulations and the Council’s Safety Policy are adhered to.
  12. To undertake such other duties as may be required from time-to-time which are compatible with the skill, responsibility level and grading of the post.

Applications should be sent to and include the following:

  • Methodology for the project
  • CV, including relevant skills and experience
  • Two references

If you wish to discuss the role or have any questions, please contact Archivist Robert Hillman by email or telephone 0161 3 424242

Christmas Countdown 2019 – December 11: Lion Salt Works

Today’s entry comes from Lion Salt Works in Northwich:

Object Name: Salt Boots


Description: Who is dreaming of a white Christmas? We are! These boots, on display at the Lion Salt Works, may look like someone has just walked through the snow and is now warming them by the fire but looks can be deceiving. The crystals that have encased these boots, inside and out, are salt crystals rather than the icy kind. These boots are believed to have been left by a worker at the Salt Works when it closed in the 1980s. These are a great example of what could happen to workers clothes if they were not cleaned regularly. When left in a salty environment, especially near the salt pans, salt is known to build up.

For more information about Lion Salt Works visit




Ignition Project Greater Manchester survey

From Royal Horticultural Society: 

 The Ignition Project brings together 12 partners from Greater Manchester’s local government, universities, non-governmental organisations, and business. We aim to address the emergency caused by climate change. We are investigating how we can fund the delivery of more nature based projects that will help make us less vulnerable to climate change. Unknown

We aim to achieve a 10% increase in our city’s coverage of plants and trees by 2038.

If you live, work, study or volunteer in Greater Manchester we would like you to share your thoughts with us by filling in a short survey.  This survey will help us understand how our citizens value Greater Manchester’s parks, woodlands and other greenspaces. We will use this information to determine how we will invest in improving and increasing our greenspaces, and establish the business case for making these investments.

The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete and can be found here.

Please contact Rosie Naylor if you have any questions.






Christmas Countdown 2019 – December 10: Ravenglass Railway Museum

Today’s entry comes from Ravenglass Railway Museum in Cumbria:

Object Name: Santa Special Train Headboard


Photo © Peter van Zeller

Description: Important trains carried distinctive headboards on the locomotive pulling the coaches. This example in Ravenglass Railway Museum decorated Santa trains on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, now universally popular which first ran on the line, known as ‘La’al Ratty’ over 75 years ago.

For more information about Ravenglass Railway Museum visit

Twitter: @rermuseum