Big Heritage support reopening of ‘hidden gem’ museum

July 04, 2017

The re-opening of the First World War: Returning Home exhibition at the University of Chester Riverside Museum was celebrated with a talk on munition workers by Dr Claire Chatterton, at which visitors had the opportunity to view the refurbished display and the permanent collection.

Exhibits at the museum.
Exhibits at the museum.

Claire, Staff Tutor at the Open University in the North West and Chair of the Royal College of Nursing History of Nursing Society, gave an insight into the implications of working with munitions in factories for the health of workers and the contribution of nurses to the provision of health care in her talk It Turned Us Yellow All Over: Health Care Provision for Munition Workers During the First World War.

The First World War: Returning Home exhibition was originally opened in 2014 to mark the 100-year anniversary of the conflict and has been upgraded with the generous help of Chester-based Big Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The exhibition portrays what a soldier invalided back from the Front would have found on his return to Cheshire. Using local examples wherever possible, it covers aspects such as treatment at the Front, volunteer nursing, a doctor’s country practice, home life and social welfare. In addition, the permanent museum collection contains curiosities from the world of medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work.

The Museum, based at the University’s Riverside Campus on Castle Drive, was established by a small group of volunteers from the Faculty of Health and Social Care (FHSC) Historical Society, which aims to unite individuals with an interest in medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work across the University and the wider community. The Society meets regularly for a range of talks and discussion and anyone with an interest in health and social care or social/local history is welcome to attend.

Professor Elizabeth Mason-Whitehead from the Faculty of Health and Social Care and the Institute of Medicine said: "Our successful collaboration with Big Heritage on the First World War: Returning Home exhibition marks a significant turning point in the museum’s nine-year history and it was particularly apt that one of our Historical Society members, Claire Chatterton, gave us such a fascinating talk to mark the occasion. Our dedicated volunteers have worked closely with Big Heritage staff to enhance the exhibition which presents the First World War to the people of Chester and beyond in a unique and special way.

“The generosity of Big Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund has allowed this nurturing space for learning about the First World War to be improved significantly while retaining the knowledge and enthusiasm of our volunteers in bringing the artefacts to life. Our collaboration has been a hugely positive experience and we would like to thank Big Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the volunteers and everyone else who has contributed to this project in so many ways. We look forward to welcoming more visitors from the local community and across the world to our Museum and its programme of associated talks."

Dean Paton from Big Heritage said: "We are delighted to have worked in partnership with the Riverside Museum to enhance their First World War exhibition. The knowledge of the volunteers was breathtaking, and our challenge was to help them organise and display that information in a way that visitors could easily engage with.

“It's been a privilege to work with such amazing people, and we are all grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting this hidden gem."

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