Museum shows off lost Victorian craft skills as it appeals for helpers

Hilda Sissons, in traditional Victorian dress demonstrates lace making in a Victorian parlour at Beck Isle Museum, Pickering. Pictures: Gerard Binks.
Hilda Sissons, in traditional Victorian dress demonstrates lace making in a Victorian parlour at Beck Isle Museum, Pickering. Pictures: Gerard Binks.
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A YORKSHIRE museum has re-opened for the 2011 season with a new display of Victorian clothing which highlights the remarkable quality of hand-sewing from that era.

But the Beck Isle Museum of rural life, at Bridge Street in Pickering, also badly needs new volunteers to help preserve and maintain its huge collection of clothing and fabrics from the Victorian period.

Barry Rudd dressed in the Cobblers Workshop, all polished ready to welcome visitors to the museum.

Barry Rudd dressed in the Cobblers Workshop, all polished ready to welcome visitors to the museum.

Costume archivist Hilda Sissons has put together new displays of lace bonnets and shawls, along with underwear worn by Victorians and a display of gentlemen’s riding gear.

The clothing displays are among a series of new attractions, including fresh displays of work by a photographer and watercolour artist which will be available to visitors throughout 2011, with the museum open every day from 10am to 5pm until December 12.

However, the museum is now in need of more help to look after its collection of clothing, which has taken over the entire attic of its premises.

Museum secretary Kim Pennock said: “The museum opened in 1967 and since then we have been given many, many items. The costume store now fills the entire attic and we are in desperate need of volunteers, who understand textiles, to help with conservation work.”

Those duties will include dating items, performing restoration work where possible, and conserving and storing the collection correctly so it will be kept in good condition for the future.

The museum already has a team of volunteers making cotton bags to store each item, a huge task in its own right.

“There are a lot of school children who are interested in textiles and we have had some of them in on work experience, but they are busy with exams and things at present,” she said.

“Most of our items are handmade and are very beautiful.

“We don’t have the space to put out on display everything we would like to, so it is important to make sure it is all looked after,” she said.

Anyone who is interested in helping can contact the museum by email, at beckisle@aol.com