Street Museums and Museum Streets: Researching museum history

By Bill Longshaw

In recent years, I’ve begun to research the history of recreated streets in UK museums, heritage sites and some other, more surprising, places. My work has included a mapping and scoping exercise and several visits, producing drawings and photographs. Largely conducted over the internet, especially during lockdown, but with some input from colleagues in the Social History Curator’s Group, my research has now produced a list of around 130 ‘streets’ of all shapes and sizes. These range from well-loved museum displays, like those at York Castle Museum and Salford Museum and Art Gallery to more quirky examples like streets in care homes, designed to help dementia suffers to adapt to their surroundings and even a Harry Potter fan’s own home-version of ‘Diagon Alley’.    

Lark Hill Place, Salford

More than 20 years ago, I created an exhibition for the People’s History Museum in Manchester called ‘Every Street, an Artist’s View’. This was something of a hybrid. Part art-installation and part social history display; tracing the intertwined lives of a group of past residents of one particular Ancoats street – Every Street – through 50 years of post-war life.

It could be said that this was the start of my interest in putting streets into museums as other, street-inspired exhibitions, including ‘1962: New Work by Bill longshaw’ (2002) and ‘Myth of the North’ (2007), both created for The Lowry in Salford, followed. For ‘1962’ we turned the whole of the Lowry’s promenade gallery into an early 1960s street, presented in black, white and grey, like the set of a kitchen-sink drama film. While ‘Myth of the North’ had a terraced street, complete with a co-op shop, a 1950s sitting room and a works canteen. All presented as tongue-in cheek, heritage-type back-drops for paintings by Lowry and work by other artists and photographers whose imagery has come to epitomise the mythical, English North.

1962, New Work by Bill Longshaw, the Lowry, Salford 2002
Myth of the North, the Lowry, 2007

My work as an artist and curator, on projects like ‘Every Street’ and ‘Myth of the North’, became the basis of a PhD, thesis entitled: ‘People, Myth and Museums, constructing the people’s past and white working-class Salford, 1945-2007’, which you can find here:

My research examined the way a mythical North was constructed in popular culture in post-war Britain and considered why popular myth-making and the evolution of a ‘people’s past’ in the heritage sector has served some groups better than others and actually alienated many of the working-class communities at the myth’s core, in places like Salford. As these things sometimes do, my thesis languished on the shelf for many years, as I concentrated on my career in museums. However, I always intended to revisit it and on blowing off the dust, was heartened to find that the sections on street museums and how they evolved still fired my imagination.   

My interest in streets, probably goes back even further than Every Street. To visiting Lark Hill Place, the recreated Victorian street at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, as a small child in the 1970s.  I have vivid memories of the dark, cavernous space; the corner shop, selling sugar mice and the strange, slightly eerie feeling that the space gives you. A sense I still get today. Lark Hill Place was created by Salford Museum and Art Gallery’s visionary curator, Ted (Albert) Frape in the 1950s. Like several other post-war curators, Frape, who also championed L.S. Lowry and persuaded the city to collect his work, was influenced by Kirkgate. The ‘bygone street’ constructed in the York Castle Museum by Dr John Kirk, to display a lifetime of folk collecting.

One of my sketches of Lark Hill Place Salford
Abbey Fold, Leeds

Kirk’s street, opened to the public in 1938 and has since become something of a landmark in the development of ‘living history’ in museums. In the post-war world, Frape and C. Maynard-Mitchell at the Abbey House Museum in Leeds were among a group of curators who set out to create exhibits which conveyed a new more inclusive vision of the ‘people’s past’ to a post-Beveridge nation, determined not to go back to the squalor and poverty of the hungry thirties. Other streets, as well as several ingenious representations of coal mines followed and by the 1970s, entire recreated ‘towns’ were emerging in open-air sites, like Beamish, Ironbridge and the Black Country Museum in Dudley, as heritage became an integral element in regenerating post-industrial areas.

I am currently considering where my research should go next. My survey begins with a look at the origins of recreated streets in the great exhibition boom of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Several ‘olde worlde’ towns, including ‘Olde London’, ‘Olde Edinburgh’, ‘Olde Liverpool’ and ‘Olde Manchester and Salford’ appeared as cornerstone attractions within larger exhibition complexes and even Kirkgate itself started life as part of a larger temporary exhibition.

The souvenir booklet of the ‘Olde Manchester and Salford’ exhibit from the Royal Jubilee Exhibition, Manchester 1887

In addition, there were scores of recreated ‘villages’ in exhibitions across Britain, before and just after the First World War. Many of these were designed to provide a flavour of the far-flung reaches of British Empire, populated by specially imported groups of ‘natives’, making the early history of street museums a problematic affair. Mixed up with the creation of what are now often termed ‘human zoos’ and the worst excesses of a brand of Imperialism that commodified people as readily as its history.

There are many contrasting themes that can be investigated through the history of recreated street, as well as opportunities for exhibitions and art works, which given my past, I am keen to explore. I would, therefore, be grateful for any ideas, help or advice on moving my project, which is still wholly un-supported and un-funded, forward. If you are interested in my past work, you can see some of it on my website. or to contact me for a copy of my street museum list, please email: .

Thomas Ferriar – Mancunian South American Liberator: a bi-centennial commemoration – 17 July 2021

UCLan Centre for History and Public Engagement with the Past – free online History Event

Thomas Ferriar – Mancunian South American Liberator: a bi-centennial commemoration

Saturday 17 July 2021, 2.30 – 4.00pm

“The great liberator”: Simon Bolivar and Britain

Dr Remy Duthille

Manchester radicals and the Latin revolutions

Professor Robert Poole

Thomas Ferriar and British volunteers for Latin American Independence

Professor Nick Mansfield

St Ann’s Church in central Manchester contains a memorial to the Ferriar family. This includes Thomas Ferriar (1785-1821), who was mortally wounded while commanding the British Legion at the crucial battle of Carabobo, under the eyes of Simon Bolivar – ‘the Great Liberator’. This victory secured independence from Spain for Venezuela. Ferriar’s statue figures prominently in the Campo Carabobo national monument. Why did a Mancunian play such a prominent part in the South American liberation movement? These talks will explore Ferriar’s background, life and times on the two hundredth anniversary of his death.  

You can join the event HERE

For any queries email ,, or

FutureLearn: Our role, access to knowledge and public history

by Matt Crabtree, FutureLearn and Emily Webb, Manchester Metropolitan University

The last year or so has taught us many lessons. Amidst a global crisis on a scale few of us have seen before, we have learned about what is important to us, what we miss, and how precious life is. We have also learned to adapt, utilise technology, and take new approaches to aspects of our lives we may have taken for granted. Education has been one such area, and FutureLearn has been helping to make knowledge, including public history, accessible to all. 

Here, we take a look at what FutureLearn is, how it is helping people access education and its role in promoting knowledge in areas such as public history. 

What is FutureLearn? 

FutureLearn is a digital education platform founded in 2012. Jointly owned by The Open University and Seek, the company has partnered with hundreds of education partners around the world, including world-class universities, institutions, experts, and educators. 

Since its first course launched in 2013, FutureLearn has become a truly global platform, helping over 15 million learners reach their educational goals. 

FutureLearn has a range of course available across a variety of subjects, including History.

Promoting access to education 

One of the central values of FutureLearn is that everyone should have access to knowledge. Education can have such a profound impact on individuals and the wider world, and everyone must have a chance to learn. 

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the importance of knowledge, both individually and collectively, to overcome difficult situations and continue to make progress. Educators have had to adjust to teaching online while students have been forced out of the classroom. During these times, digital platforms have become essential to the way education takes place. 

E-learning has fast become the top educational technology trend of the moment, and companies like FutureLearn are helping students and educators alike. Many of the short courses they offer are free to access and cover a broad range of topics. It’s even possible to earn a degree through FutureLearn, allowing users to learn flexibly online. 

This learning style and teaching will inevitably play a role in the future of education, and companies like FutureLearn can help promote access to learning for all. 

FutureLearn’s History courses will often take a unique approach to education

History beyond the classroom 

One area where e-learning platforms such as FutureLearn can have a particularly transformative impact is on public history. With over 60 history courses on offer, FutureLearn offers insights into a broad range of topics in this field. 

Many of these courses take a unique approach to history. For example, one course offers a virtual tour through a historically accurate 3D model of Rome. Other courses look at history through different mediums, such as art, film, science, and culture. 

Online learning gives a new perspective to the study and presentation of the past. Learners gain access to a global network of resources, academics, and institutions. Educators can convey information in new and engaging ways. For everyone involved, it provides more flexibility. Although it cannot replace certain methods of teaching history, it can certainly supplement them. 

MOOCs at Manchester Metropolitan University

Man Met released their first MOOC with FutureLearn in May 2018. We have since released eight courses, including, Poetry, Education, Health, Sport and Environment, reaching 50k learners worldwide, from those who want to develop professionally to some who want to develop a new hobby.

We are now adding History to our portfolio with two new courses being released in September 2021:

Sustainable Cultural Heritage: Applied International Practice

This course is aimed at learners seeking an introduction to the key practical, economic, political and ethical issues in cultural heritage management on the global stage. It will be of interest to those starting a career in heritage management, and those who want to develop a more decentralised international perspective in their heritage practice. The course will also be valuable to those wishing to learn more about the issues facing heritage professionals globally.

Digital Politics: Being Political in a Digital Age

This course is aimed at learners seeking an introduction to the key ideas and concepts in the field of digital politics. It will be of interest to those working in the NGO sector, public services, local and national government, or international charities or business, or considering starting such a career. The course will be valuable to those working, or considering work in social media communication. Finally, the course will also be of interest to anyone wishing to learn more about the rapidly growing field of digital politics, political communication and global digital economies.

We hope to see you on our courses soon.

Dr Peter Lindfield, The British Muslim Heritage Centre, ‘ancient’-style furniture and a royal bed!

We enjoyed learning about the architectural history of the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Whalley Range. This is an impressive building, set in some beautiful grounds just south of Manchester. A real hidden gem. Read Peter’s article on the building here.

Main Façade of The British Muslim Heritage Centre, Whalley Range, Manchester. © Peter N. Lindfield

Peter is also arranging public lectures and workshops for later this year exploring the remaking of ‘ancient’-style furniture at Chetham’s Library following the publication of his jointly-authored essay with Jonathan Foyle, ‘A Forger’s Folly? The Productions of George Shaw (1810–76) for Chetham’s Library, Mancehster’ in The British Art Journal ​(2020–21). 

We were also delighted to hear that Peter has secured a contract as editor of a volume on the Henry VII and Elizabeth of York marriage bed with Oxbow Books (Oxford). Bringing together analysis of the bed from a range of historical and scientific disciplines, the book will offer the most detailed published analysis of the bed—​the most significant piece of domestic royal furniture to survive the Civil War. The multi-disciplinary volume will show how a range of approaches can be used to interpret a peerless piece of late-medieval furniture for which precious few comparative examples exist.

Great work Peter!

Freethinkers, Chartists and Radicals; political continuity over three generations of nineteenth-century Norvicians

By Dominic Barron-Carter, PhD Student and Associate Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University


My research examines how space and place affected political and protest groups throughout Great Britain between 1815 and 1867. In doing so, it demonstrates how these sites and those who lived or frequented them, came to be associated with the matter and memory of political radicalism. Such an explanation allows my research to show why, despite successive failures and dissolutions, reform groups continued to coalesce and emanate outwards from these neighborhoods throughout the period. In the following blogpost, I offer a short intergenerational case study to demonstrate how participation in spaces and places of radical social and political reform can produce continuities in thought and activity across multiple generations and individual movements. 

Richard Hornigold

Richard Hornigold was a weaver and later rope maker by trade and a native of Norwich. Hewas born in either 1794 or 1795 and baptised in the parish of St Augustine, which lies to the north of Norwich’s city centre in an area known as “over the water”. According to C. B. Jewson (1975), the area was a hotbed of Dissenter and Jacobin activity throughout the duration of the French Wars (1792-1815). As a result, it seems likely that from an early age, if indirectly, Hornigold was aware of issues like national spending, franchise reform and others that dominated the politics of early nineteenth-century Britain.

Growing up surrounded by the focal point of local reformatory politics clearly made a strong impression upon young Richard as in 1818, aged 23/24, he participated in his first General Election and helped return William Smith, the radical unitarian and his Whig ally as Norwich’s MP. His early entry into Norwich’s political milieu was probably helped by the local franchise arrangements, which allowed tradesman to be enfranchised after a period of apprenticeship rather than based on the property they owned. Richard never seems to have wasted the right his labour had earned him, indeed further inspection of the electoral records indicate that voting Whig/liberal/radical became a tradition of his and one that he kept up at every local parliamentary election until his death in 1866.

Having survived the post-war slump and started a family, the intensification of political unrest both nationally and locally seems to have pushed Richard toward the wider campaign for reform that characterised post-Napoleonic Britain. In 1823, he subscribed a shilling and appended his name to a list destined for Richard Carlile, the radical London printer then imprisoned for seditious libel. Not only did Richard append his name but also described himself as a “materialist”, which at the time was tantamount to an affirmation of atheism. Such an open declaration, in a widely circulated journal, of a belief that could have serious legal repercussion goes quite some way to demonstrating Richard’s conviction toward political and religious principles. This conviction and the strength to declare it openly is something which the open support for the similarly radical, anti-Christian French Revolution that emanated from the streets of “over the water” had probably prepared him for.

Hornigolds’ name as it appeared in Carlile’s Republican, Image courtesy of Proquest.

Robert Hornigold

Of Richard’s eight children his eldest son, Robert (b.1817) forms the second link in the reforming daisy chain. Robert was also born and spent his youth in St Augustine. When compared to the prior two decades, 1820-1838, excepting the 1830-32 reform agitation, constituted a considerable fall in the area’s level of radical activity. With the publishing of the People’s Charter in 1838 the area’s political radicalism seems to have been revived and by 1841 the area hosted the local Chartist chapel as well as a local socialist AACAN chapter. The combination of his father’s own experience and promotion of radical politics, an increasingly overt level of radical political protest and the erection of specifically Chartist sites like the Chartist chapel probably ensured that he participated in the Charter agitation of the 1840s.

Across the United Kingdom, 1847 was something of a calm before the storm that 1848 was to be. For the Norvician Chartists, however, it also demonstrated the possibilities that Norwich’s less restricted franchised could allow for. John Humffreys Parry, a Barrister and friend of many middle class allies of the Chartist contested Norwich’s two seats against the Whig Peto and a sitting MP, the Marquis of Douro, son of the Duke of Wellington. What should have been a formality quickly turned into a struggle as working men like Robert voted for Parry in droves. The difference between Douro, who was elected, and Parry who was not, was around 160 votes. Parry’s success was helped by many of his closest supporters “plumping” for him which refers to, when voting in a multi-member constituency, only using one of the two votes each elector was allotted. Robert was one such plumper. Perhaps even more so than Richard’s declaration of atheism, Robert’s “plumping” was a public act as before the secret ballot voting required one run a gauntlet of allied and hostile supporters to reach the hustings whereupon Robert would have had to verbalise his vote in front of the recording officers. This would have left him open to retaliatory attacks by Douro or Peto’s supporters, especially given that the polling station, and Robert’s home, were no longer in the safe haven of “over the water”.

Robert did not leave the political legacy of his father and childhood surroundings at the parish boundaries however. Having married in 1843 parenthood loomed over the young couple, allowing Robert (with his wife’s approval) to demonstrate his commitment to the cause of radical social political reform. Their second and third sons, Richard and Robert, were both given distinctive, telling, middle names. Richard’s full name was Richard Cobden Hornigold, probably in honour of Richard Cobden whose campaign to repeal the tariffs placed on foreign wheat (corn laws) succeeded in Richard’s birth year. Robert Jr. meanwhile carried the name Owen, no doubt in honour of Robert Owen, an education reformer and socialist whose “Association of All Classes of All Nations” first arrived in Norwich via “over the water” ten years earlier. Like Richard before him, Robert wholeheartedly committed to the political principles that his parental and environmental upbringing had given him, even after he had himself moved beyond these surroundings. This again demonstrates that areas like Norwich’s “over the water” produced continuities in political thought and protest activity across multiple generations of individuals and organisations.

Robert’s vote as recorded in the 1847 poll, he is listed at the very bottom of the third column. Image courtesy of Ancestry.

Richard Cobden Hornigold

Of Robert’s two sons, Richard Cobden followed his ancestors’ footsteps and played an active role in Norwich’s radical politics. Influenced as he was by his elders’ politics, men like Richard Cobden came to embody the link between older forms of radical politics and the Gladstonian Liberalism that grew from the 1867 Reform Act.

In 1867, aged 21 he, along with many of Norwich’s veteran radicals, most of whom would have known his forefathers, campaigned against the ratepayer clauses of the 1867 Act, which disenfranchised individuals who did not pay their rates (taxes) directly. He played an active part in the meeting alongside being on the committee, which suggests that the issue was dear to him, possibly because he was one such disenfranchised elector. This interpretation is supported by Norwich’s electoral records, which show he failed to vote in 1868 election despite his name appearing on the 1867 electoral register.

A further two years past before Richard Cobden was able to exercise the franchise, which he and his forefathers had campaigned for over the last half century. In true family tradition, he voted for the Liberal Jacob Henry Tillet and did so again in 1871 when Tillet’s election was voided on corruption allegations and a by-election ensued.

“Meeting of the Norwich Compounders” as reported in the Lynn Advertiser of 21/09/1867. Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive.


In summary, the political activity of the Hornigold family from the late 1810s to the 1870s demonstrates, quite succinctly, how important sites of radical political activity had long-lasting effects on those who participated in them and their decedents. Such continuities can be shown to have existed, as in the case of the Hornigolds, in areas that have historically received little attention by studies of protest and labour history. Richard’s radical political principles, influenced by the radical heart of Norwich, were transmitted to his son Robert. Thirty years later, Robert growing up in a similar milieu displayed the same kinds of convictions as his father did even when no longer physically in Norwich’s radical heart. Even then, separated temporally and geographically from Norwich’s premiere radical spaces and places, the influence of them can be detected in the political activity of Robert’s son Richard.

Dr Jason Roche, The Crusade of King Conrad III of Germany: Warfare and Diplomacy in Byzantium, Anatolia and Outremer, 1146-1148

We were happy to hear that Dr Jason Roche recently published The Crusade of King Conrad III of Germany: Warfare and Diplomacy in Byzantium, Anatolia and Outremer, 1146-1148. Challenging previous historiography, Jason provides an account of King Conrad III’s crusade to Syria and Palestine. Read more below.

This book represents the first work of history dedicated to the crusade of King Conrad III of Germany (1146–48), emperor-elect of the Western Roman Empire and the most powerful man yet to assume the Cross. Even so, many of the people following the king on the Second Crusade were dead before they reached Constantinople and their ranks were devastated in Anatolia. Yet he went on to join with his fellow kings, Louis VII of France and Baldwin III of Jerusalem, in an attempt to capture the city of Damascus, the most powerful Muslim stronghold in southern Syria. Their unsuccessful attack lasted just five days. The recriminations for the many privations and problems the Germans suffered and encountered in Byzantium, Anatolia and Outremer were long and loud and have echoed down the ages: German indiscipline and poor leadership, Byzantine deceit and duplicity, and the self-serving interests of a Latin Jerusalemite nobility were and still are blamed for the various failings of the expedition. Scrutinising the original source evidence to an unparalleled degree and employing a range of innovative, multi-disciplinary approaches, this work challenges the traditional and more recent historiography at every turn leading to a significantly clearer and appreciably different understanding of the expedition’s complex and much maligned history.

Jason T. Roche is a Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the history of the crusades and the Latin East and the topography of medieval Anatolia.

You can purchase Jason’s work here.

Dr Michael Nevell, Digging up Manchester: Industrial Archaeology & Heritage in the Shock City – 2 June 2021

We are looking forward to welcoming Dr Michael Nevell on 2 June for a public lecture.

Dr Nevell will be discussing buildings, bricks, cobbles, pots and glass bottles recovered from more than fifty digs in Manchester.

Manchester is a city with an unparalleled industrial heritage. Its technological and transport innovations, and its wealth, was based on textile manufacture. From the 18th century to the early 20th century it was the centre of world production earning it the nickname ‘cottonopolis’. The darker side of this story was the harsh working and living conditions of the newly industrialised inhabitants. The urban regeneration of the city centre since 2000 has provided opportunities for more than fifty archaeological digs, changing our understanding of the city’s origins and development. This talk will look at the industrial buildings, bricks, cobbles, pots, and glass bottles recovered from these digs. These have helped to bring to life the physical nature of working and living in the world’s first industrial city during this period of rapid change. And this exploration has also involved community archaeology volunteers exploring their own past, helping to ground the archaeological understanding of the city in the 21st century.

Dr Michael Nevell, FSA, MCIfA, is the Industrial Heritage Support Officer for England, based at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and an Honorary Research Fellow in Industrial Archaeology at the University of Salford. He has more than 30 years of experience as a field archaeologist, and taught undergraduates and post-graduates as a senior lecturer for 18 years, being founding Head of Archaeology at the Centre for Applied Archaeology at the University of Salford (2009-2020). His research areas include industrial buildings, vernacular architecture (especially timber buildings), buildings archaeology, community archaeology, industrial, and contemporary archaeology. He has run a variety of community archaeology projects including the Tameside Archaeologic Survey, Dig Manchester, and Dig Greater Manchester. He is the author of many books and academic papers including Industrial Archaeology: A Handbook (Council for British Archaeology 2012); Archaeology for All: Community Archaeology in the early 21st Century (University of Salford 2015), The Birth of an Industrial City: Glasgow and the Archaeology of the M74 (Society of Antiquaries Scotland 2016). ‘The Dig Greater Manchester Community Project, 2011 to 2017: Archaeology for All?’, Memoirs of the Manchester Literary & Philosophical Association Volume 156 (2019), 77-89; Manchester at Work (Amberley Publishing, 2018); Heritage Under Pressure: Threats and Solutions (Oxbow books 2019); and The Archaeology of Manchester in 20 Digs (Amberley Publishing, 2020). He is a past Chair of the Association for Industrial Archaeology (2017-20) and is a past editor (2009-17) of the international journal ‘Industrial Archaeology Review’.

Sign up here.

Dr Craig Horner Book Release – The Emergence of Bicycling and Automobility in Britain

Congratulations to Dr Craig Horner whose new book, The Emergence of Bicycling and Automobility in Britain, was published recently. As well as publishing, Craig has compiled a 2000 strong list of 19th Century motorists on his project page! Check it out here. Impressive feat! Have a read about the book and some reviews below.

In the late 19th century, bicyling and motoring offered new ways for a hardy minority to travel. Escaping from the ‘tyranny’ of the train timetables, these entrepreneurs were able to promote private mobility when the road, technology and infrastructure were unequal to the task. With a moribund network out of town, poor roadside accommodation and few services, how could road traction persist and ultimately thrive?

Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, including magazines, newspapers and advice books on stable management, this book explores the emergence and development of bicycling and automobility in Britain, with a focus on the racing driver-cum-entrepreneur SF Edge (1868-1940) and his network. Craig Horner considers the motivations, prejudices and cultures of those who promoted and consumed road traction, providing new insights into social class, leisure, sport and tourism in Britain. In addition, he places early British bicycling and automobility in an international context, providing fruitful comparisons with the movements in France, Germany and the United States.

“Craig Horner’s treatise on the early days of cycling and motoring in Britain takes a scholarly yet entertaining look at the changing attitudes to the new mobility and its gradual diffusion down through the clearly defined social strata of pre-Great War England. Key figures in this scenario highlighted in the text were Selwyn Francis Edge and his secretary Dorothy Levitt, who did much to popularise motoring among a wider audience. The ample list of references consulted invites further reading.” –  David Burgess-Wise, Society of Automotive Historians in Britain, UK.

“Craig Horner’s absorbing analysis brings home just how much of the cultural landscape of modern British automobility was established as early as 1910. Out were the niche enthusiasts’ toys driven by the 1890s posh, in were the slightly boring branded cars affordable by the consumer of ‘moderate means’ – the advance guard of mass motoring. Only by understanding the enormity of this century-old cultural achievement can we dream of inspiring tomorrow’s motorist to spend less time behind the wheel” –  

Colin Divall, Professor Emeritus, University of York, UK.

Purchase Craig’s work here.

For the motoring enthusiasts read all about Craig’s project on the project page. Hear Craig talk about the topic in episode 1 of the MCPHH podcast. More recently we spoke to Richard Roberts. Richard runs a fantastic advertising archive in Stockport, which specialises in automobiles and land transport.