Archive for July, 2012

A key to the future

If you were to live in a magical fairyland…or win the lottery and own a castle what would it look like?

Moat?  – Possibly not everyone’s cup of tea but would definitely add an imposing feature to it. Not so good if you want to appear friendly.

Turrets? – Provide fantastic views and a good place to have as your ‘own’ space. Wouldn’t fancy having to sweep the staircase though!

Big Doors – Now this is something I can imagine everyone would want. Most historic houses have huge doors and look fabulous. If the door is too big you can do what many places did and put a normal sized door into that. The one thing you need with a big door though…is a big key.


I got the key…I got the secret

And this one does the trick. So while I may not have the vast riches, the big castle and the imposing doorway I do have the first part of the jigsaw, which is the key.

Getting in

Not much use on this door!

But, it’s not exactly useful! Complete pain to carry around and you would never be able to use it in any other lock. Very unlikely you’re going to lose it though!


Rise and Fall. Boom and Bust

That is the way of the world. It always has been. Even the Romans had issues with their economy and went through periods of boom and bust. Although when they went bust in the 4th Century AD, it plungedWestern Europe into the Dark Ages!

But those were different times! The speed of development and the state of our society means this current economic downturn isn’t going to throw us back to the dark ages. But what can we do to get out of this funk and come charging out the other side? As usual my answer would be to look back into history and see what happened. I’m a big believer in idea that no matter what the situation, someone will have experienced the same thing before. Do your research, find out what happened and build from there. One of the more recent (in historical terms) downturns came in the early 1920’s. InEuropemany countries had been hugely affected by the war and were still recovering from the financial and manpower implication of 4 years of drawn out warfare.

One of the solutions in both this country andAmericawas to create large building programs. To make these men employable, or to just keep them employed until the economy improved many public buildings were erected. Bridges, libraries and roads were all built under these programs. The good thing about these programs is that with money in their pockets, these workers were spending at local shops and markets helping kick start the economy. Did it work? Well they weren’t known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ for no reason.

Workers Plaque

It may not be much, but it means a lot

This sign is a little reminder in the museum of this period and is from the bridge which spans the canal at Whitebirk in Blackburn. It’s apt to use the sign in the blog now as there are big debates around jobs and whether many young people want to work, or how desperately the need jobs. Would there be many who would willingly help build bridges and roads just to get some money and experience? Or are we now a society who wants good, well paid jobs behind a computer straight away without putting the graft in first?

What’s in a name? Everything apparently!

Do you ever get the urge to do something but you don’t know why you want to do it? Perhaps your name is John Smith and you have an urge to get you Hammer and Anvil and make a horse shoe. Perhaps your name is Steve Miller and you have uncontrallable urges to grind corn. Maybe your called Joanna Walker, and you decide to leave your car at home and trundle your way to work.

Does your name really matter though? Should it affect your career, or where you live or what you do? Traditionally it would have been the case. Names like Smith and Miller relate to occupations which the holder would have had. These were then passed down the generations to descendants who, more often than not, would continue in that line of trade. Which brings us to the object featured in this blog, an original 1851 set of ‘Happy Families’. Invented by John Jacques they contain a fantastic array of hideous characters including Bones the Butcher, Mug the Milkman and Soot the Sweep.

Happy Families

They don’t look too happy!!

Which got me wondering if there were any real-life people whose names matched their jobs. I managed to find a US treasury representative called David Dollar. Ronald Raegan’s ex-spokesman called Larry Speakes and playright William Wordsworth. With the olympics just around the corner perhaps Usain Bolt would be an appropriate one too.

Maybe it’s time for a new updated version of the game. We could have Mr Click the Dot Com entrepreneur, Miss Trusty the Banker’s Daughter and Master Scratch the Dj’s Son. On a Blackburn related theme, if there is a Mr Cotton the Weaver or something similar get in touch and let us know!

Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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