Interpretation Planner Matt Arnold comes into contact with lots of interesting, quirky and important assets as he works on projects for Leach Studio. Here, he selects five of his favourites which can be seen in the slideshow to the left.
Galbraith family photo
I’ve seen hundreds of family line-ups in photographs from the early part of the 20th century. Standing in a line, often in front of the family home, is the usual pose. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across this image of the Hebridean Gailbraith family while working on the Atlantic Islands Centre project. We printed the image as a huge wallpaper graphic and positioned it in the perfect place… at the top of a run of stairs taking visitors from the ground to first floor!
Chair in a weaving cottage
One of the pieces of furniture housed at Colne Valley Museum is a handmade Victorian chair made by James Woodhead of Slaithwaite. The client knew who made the chair, when it was made, and about the physical mechanics – it includes a sliding shelf to hold a basket or cup of tea, and the back pulls down to create a table. The chair was probably worth a small mention somewhere… until in 2015, I came across three images held at the archive in Huddersfield. Two showed woodworker James, while the third featured Mrs Woodhead sitting in the actual chair made 116 years earlier!
Nick Sharratt’s archive
Many of the characters featured in our interpretation are people from the past. Nick Sharratt, however, is a contemporary illustrator who was able to support the development of a touring exhibition about his work. Not only did I have access to almost every book he had been involved in, I explored his entire collection of personal and professional drawings. These spanned his childhood and teenage years through to his college work and latest book at that time, Opal Plumstead. One of my favourite books was Pants, as the story’s cheeky humour summed up the fun spirit of the exhibition.
I’m a certified pharologist, one who studies or is enthused by everything lighthouse. There’s just something about the 19th century engineering feats, intertwined with social history and maritime safety that appeals to me. I follow the Northern Lighthouse Board and Trinity House on social media, buy lighthouse calendars and visit and/or climb as many lighthouses as I can. This digital photo was supplied to me whilst working on the Portland Bill Lighthouse project. On noticing its huge size in megabytes, I realised it was perfect to complement the story of lighthouse keepers and their work.
It’s probably safe to say that I’m the most enthusiastic in the Studio when it comes to the subject of trains. I love heritage connected with travel, but it’s the ‘genius’ of 19th century innovation combined with 20th century social mobility which fascinates me. Lumps of cast iron metal used to make signs, delicate porcelain cups for first class travellers, and the infrastructure of a railway waiting room are all able to convey a story of manufacturing and excellence in engineering. So, when we were appointed to work on the Derby Silk Mill – Museum of Making project, I was glad to be working with curator Daniel who is also out and proud when it comes to everything railway.