Sheffield Life and Times

Jan 06 2017

Curator of Social History Clara Morgan gives an insight into new displays in our Sheffield Life and Times gallery at Weston Park:

Last year we were delighted to open new displays in the Sheffield Life and Times gallery at Weston Park Museum. The gallery is the main permanent display area for the Social History collection, and helps to tell the story of Sheffield from the 1700s until the present day.

The Sheffield Life and Times gallery was created in 2006 when the whole of Weston Park Museum was refurbished. After 10 years there were some areas of the gallery that needed refreshing and updating. The grant awarded to us by the Heritage Lottery Fund has allowed us to make changes across the whole of the museum, and the work in all the different galleries has been like a giant jigsaw puzzle involving the collections, staff, conservators, contractors, opening and closing spaces, de-installing old displays and creating new ones - all while the museum was still open!

In Sheffield Life and Times, there are two main areas that have been updated- the front part of the gallery, which provides an introduction to Sheffield, and Green City, where new displays about Sheffield sport have been created.

The front area of the gallery has seen the most structural work, with the demolition of two fixed curved walls on each side and a central pod, and new flooring and electrics. Six new cases have been added to this area, along with a map of Sheffield and a computer interactive, and plenty of wall space for hanging items.

Highlights include the iconic original 1960s Cole Brothers’ sign from the Barkers Pool department store - for newcomers to Sheffield, this has been re-branded as John Lewis. You can also see a selection of posters from 1980s Sheffield featuring a variety of causes, protests and political concerns, and a brief history of Sheffield in 29 objects!

The map of Sheffield shows the whole of the city in a simple illustrated style, with 11 detailed 3d models of a selection of local buildings and structures. These were carefully created from photographs and plans by model maker Phillipa Batchelor from Paragon Creative Limited. Next to the map is a large computer screen, where you can explore Sheffield through four digitised maps and a selection of objects from the Social History collections. The oldest map to investigate is William Fairbank and Sons’ A Map of the Parish of Sheffield in the County of York from 1795.

At the back right of the Sheffield Life Life & Times gallery you can find our new displays about Sheffield sport. This is first time that we have had a dedicated area for sport in our permanent galleries and it is wonderful to have a space that can be adapted and added to as our sports collections grow. It has proved impossible to include all of the vast variety of sports played or watched in Sheffield over the years, and so the current display has focused on roller derby, cricket, football, boxing, cycling and athletics, as well as showing objects relating to ice-skating, swimming, hockey, speedway, greyhound racing and the World Student games in 1991. The roller derby display has been created with the kind support of the Sheffield Roller Girls, who have lent us kit and other material to represent their sport. Other loans include the beautiful 1895 Challenge Shield from the Sharrow Cycling Club, and possibly the oldest cricket bat from Sheffield from Hallam Cricket Club.

Please do get in touch at if you sporting items that you would like to donate to the collections, or lend to us for a future display.


Image: Detail showing Attercliffe, from William Fairbank and Sons’ 1795 map of Sheffield.


Sheffield Life & Times has been supported by a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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