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Stanton Ironworks Gallery

Stanton Ironworks GalleryOur award winning gallery charts the history of Stanton Ironworks, a key part of the industrial heritage of Erewash. The gallery describes the development of the Ironworks from the late 18th century through to its closure in the first decade of this century, as well as the lives of those that worked there. The history of Stanton Ironworks really is fascinating.

In 1788 a small blast furnace was constructed and operated for around 15 years between the villages of Stanton by Dale and Dale Abbey and this laid the foundations for what would eventually become Stanton Ironworks.

However it was not until 1846 when Benjamin Smith and his son Josiah built three blast furnaces that the origins of what became Stanton Ironworks can truly be traced.

Women workers during World War Two

Smith's business soon experienced financial difficulties and experienced a number of takeovers in the 1850s. Eventually the business was taken over by the Crompton Family who renamed it 'The Stanton Ironworks Company'.

Stanton Ironworks became one of the biggest individual employers in the area and assisted the government in the production of armaments in both World War One and World War Two. During the Second World War male workers were conscripted into the military. This meant that women made up a large proportion of the workforce.

In 1985 the business was acquired by the French Pony-a-Mouson Group, later to become Saint-Gobain Pipelines who still own it today although the last pipe to be cast was on May 24th 2007. Although production has stopped, the Ironworks remain an important part of many people's working lives, well within living memory. The gallery serves as a space to remember and learn more about this indelible element of the heritage of Erewash.

War Gallery

War Gallery

The newly installed War Gallery tells the story of how conflicts have impacted the people of Erewash from the First World War to the present day. Displays of objects and uniforms that belonged to local servicemen and women are accompanied by poignant wall graphics that give a sense of what it was like for those on the front line and also back home in the wars of the last century.

A very individual item that can be seen in the War Gallery is the First World War diary of Charles Lacey. Charles was local to Ilkeston and volunteered for service as soon as war was declared in 1914. He served with the 22nd Field Ambulance, 7th Division. The diary is a personal account of his first month and a half service before being sent to the Western Front. Below is a selected entry.

Charles Lacey

Tuesday, August 18th,1914

“Got up for 6 o’clock parade and was told with 9 others to fetch rations after 8.30am for the Hospital mess room. I have just managed to have a wash. We are lucky to have 2 washes a day as we are now. I have been to fetch the rations there was 13 of us all together with sergeant. It was twenty minute walk from the hospital to the bake house and butcher’s place. I have never seen so many loaves or so much meat in my life. There were millions of loaves without stretching it any and great stacks of meat. When you come to think of it, it is all needed for the thousands of soldiers in Aldershot. There is over nine miles of Barracks here. I am getting a regular attender to the soldiers and sailor home; it is all free, writing materials, reading, games and concerts. At night soldiers and others volunteer to sing. I got a 1d for a cake for supper last night. Slept in tent again”.

This is just one example of the many personal stories from people who have served in the conflicts of the past century that can be discovered in the War Gallery. The gallery is not only a space to learn about these conflicts but also to reflect and remember those that have sacrificed so much.


Birds of Peace

From October 2nd - November 11th 2017, we are welcoming a Birds of Peace exhibition in the War Gallery. Bring your wishes and reflections for remembrance and peace and add them to our Erewash Peace Dove. The dove will be installed in the War Gallery, and your words will become the feathers that help it take flight. You can also come and make a Japanese origami paper crane to add to our ‘senbazuru’ – a display of 1000 cranes – which we are creating to make a peace wish from Erewash for the world.

Download our leaflet here, and origami crane instructions here.

1950s Sweet Shop

1950s shop

Our 1950s shop is a replica of a shop that was on Bath Street, Ilkeston. There is an extensive display of all sorts of produce and objects that could be found in shops in the past as well as a memory board where you can share your memories of childhood.

Shops in the 1950s were the hub of society and their owners were an essential part of the local community. Shops were usually family owned and people often stayed there all of their working lives. Shopping was a social occasion with people stopping to say hello and have a chat in town centres.

The world had sometimes felt like a very dull and drab place during the Second World War and so people in the 1950s had a real desire for bright and exciting things. This led to an explosion of colour in the packaging of products, and this is shown to great effect in our very own 1950s shop at Erewash Museum. So come along and get a taste for shopping in times gone by.

Industrial Life

Cossall CollieryThe Industrial Life gallery charts the history of coal mining in the local area and gives an impression of what it was like to work in one of the many collieries that used to operate in the borough.

The working conditions for miners could be hot, cold, humid, dusty, cramped and wet to say the least. Before the 1950s the levels of dust in mines was unregulated and this caused debilitating health conditions for miners later in life.

The working day was long and hard. In the 19th century it was not uncommon for a miner to work 13-16 hours a day.

Despite the tough conditions, to be a miner really was a way of life and one of the more favorable aspects was the friendship and camaraderie. Mining communities in this area, as in many other parts of the country were very close.

Social activities were an important aspect of the industry and many collieries formed their own sports teams. Miners' brass bands were also commonplace. Local bands included Heanor, Ripley, Langley Mill, Codnor and Loscoe.

The welfare club was the centre of many social activities. The Ilkeston Miner's Welfare which opened in 1924 stood on the corner of Bristol Road and Manners Road. The building offered a library, concert hall, bars, and outdoor recreational facilities including bowls and tennis courts. Such welfare clubs added to the sense of community amongst miners and gave relief from what could be an extremely tiring occupation.

Manners Colliery Cricket Club 1898 - Image Courtesy of Ilkeston LIbrary

Manners Colliery Cricket Club c.1898 - Image courtesy of Ilkeston Library

A broad selection of objects and tools used by miners are displayed in the Industrial Life gallery and are accompanied by lots of interesting information on the history of local collieries and the lives of the people that worked there. They help to give some sense of what life was like for miners and their families in the Erewash area.


Victorian Kitchen and Scullery

KitchenThe Victorian Kitchen shows what it was like to prepare and cook food in the Victorian times. The kitchen has all the things a Victorian would have needed to keep the family well fed, including a coal fired range that originally came from The Carpenter's Arms in Dale Abbey. There are also copper pots and pans and a 19th century cast iron hand pump that would have been used to draw water from the well.

The Scullery is a reconstruction of one found in a terraced house on Prince Street, Cotmanhay. When examined by the museum staff in 1983 the scullery was found to have hardly changed from 1876 when it was built. It still contained the original fittings such as a stoneware sink and a small range.

As the terrace was due for demolition it was decided to save as much of the scullery as possible. This process involved photographing, measuring and drawing before careful dismantling. Each brick and tile was numbered and recorded to ensure correct re-assembly.

The Scullery also includes all the tools needed to wash Victorian clothes such as a mangle, a dolly and dolly tub and caustic soap. The result, along with the Victorian Kitchen is an exhibit that gives an authentic sense of domestic life in the Victorian era.