78 Derngate Archive

Curator’s Report, October 2003

31 Dec
Dr Sylvia Pinches

Well at last Wllllam Anelay’s men have left and the dust is beginning to settle. I had grown very fond of the builders, an excellent group of craftsmen, but I was still very glad to see the back of them! Not that everything is quite finished yet.

After their departure Allyson and Adrian McDermott arrived to complete the decoration. Allyson has cleverly recreated the wallpaper for the dining room and the bathroom, using the original black and white photographs and modern digital technology. Adrian has done the paperhanging. Allyson also recreated the stencil decoration for the hall lounge. No matter how long I stared at the old photographs and had discussions with Allyson about them, it was impossible to imagine how it would really look. The answer is: wonderful.

This week Mary Schoeser and the men from the curtains and the stripy fabric for the guest bedroom. After very careful research, hours of poring over photographs under great magnification and much discussion with various experts, it was decided that the original stripes had originally been fabric and not wallpaper, and that is how we are recreating the guest bedroom. It certainly looks impressive, but you can understand George Bernard Shaw saying that he would sleep as he always did, with his eyes closed!

The lino has gone down in the bathroom and the carpets and rugs will soon be delivered by Avena of Halifax. By the end of the month the replica furniture will be delivered by Jake Kaner of the University of Buckingham. The firm of Barrett and Jarvis are getting on well with the recreation of the ceiling light for the hall lounge. Lamp shades have been made for the bedrooms. It is all coming together.

The new interior of number 80 looks very elegant with its wood, metal and glass. The glass exhibition case, which extends the length of the staircase and reaches from the basement to the second floor, looks impressive even when empty. Offers of gifts and loans of Bassett-Lowke models and memorabilia are coming in. In September I attended the AGM of the Bassett-Lowke Society, and their Treasurer, Robert Jackson, presented the Trust with an ‘O’ gauge Princess Elizabeth. He has also promised to lend us some other models to get our display started, as have other members of the Society and individuals. Other people have offered the loan of more personal items. I shall have fun arranging all these treasures in a couple of weeks.

There is much organisational work still to be done, and I am glad to say that Rob Kendall will be acting as my temporary part-time assistant over the next three months. I am extremely grateful to the number of people who have volunteered to help run the place. Half of them have now attended basic training sessions, with more to come over the next few weeks. They are all fired up ready for the opening.

The official opening will take place on 11 November, with a series of events and previews taking place that week. We will open to the public from 17th November for four weeks. We will then be closed until March 2004. Because of the size of the house and consequent fire regulations, limited numbers of people will be allowed at any one time. All visits to 78 are to be pre-booked and booking will open for the public on October 27th, on 01604 603407 or by e- mail.

First published in October 2003 in The Friends of 78 Derngate Newsletter Issue 26.
Author: Dr Sylvia Pinches
Transcribed 2018: Barbara Floyer