New home for rare threshing machine

A rare threshing machine that was at the Vale and Downland Museum at Wantage, Oxfordshire has been given a new home at the Brown and May Trust at Devizes, Wiltshire. The machine was made by Nalder and Nalder of East Challow, in what would have been Berkshire, but is now Oxfordshire. 

The thresher is dated at around 1900 and is typical of threshing machines. However, Nalder and Nalder patented a unique adjustable grading screen which could be used for other things – for example stone and coffee, as well as wheat. These threshers were exported to the British Empire and also Russia, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, USA and South America. More than seventy gold and silver medals were awarded to their products in the first 50 years.



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Farmers on Film

The farming community has long been a rich subject for photographers seeking to record rural life without nostalgia or sentimentality, and in recent years the subject has also received attention by documentary film makers such as Testimony Films.
The contemporary scene is no exception.  Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier have worked with dairy farmer Steve Hook and his father to chronicle their endeavours to produce and sell organic unpasturised milk and cheese at Longleys Farm at Hailsham, East Sussex.  Their 90 minute film ‘Moo Man’ has just premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Utah:
Currently broadcast on Channel 4, Monkey Kingdom Films’ five part series ‘First Time Farmers’ looks at the trials and tribulations of Britain’s youngest farmers, including Somerset’s Flossie Biss who combines sheep farming with her GCSE exams:
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Fringe Meeting at MA Conference

Conference delegates will have an opportunity to catch up with the Network’s recent activities and plans at a fringe meeting of the Museums Association Conference and Exhibition on Thursday 8th November 12.30 – 14.00.

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Rural Museums in the Museums Journal

Two members of the Network receive attention in this months edition of the Museums Journal. Louise Grey interviews The Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton for the series on UK specialist collections, and Jane Weeks reviews the new Abbot’s Hall displays at the Musuem of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket.

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Abbot’s Hall Reopens

Congratulations to the Museum of East Anglian Life on the reopening of Abbot’s Hall following a £3m HLF supported refurbishment.

Read more about the museum.

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St Fagans Development

Plans to redevelop St Fagans National History Museum have received support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The Museum’s ambitious and comprehensive ‘Making History’ project has received HLF Stage 1 funding.

Read more about the project.

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‘The Power of the Plough’ published

The RMN is very pleased to publish The Power of the Plough by Sally Ackroyd and Judith Carruthers.

Image: The Power of the Plough -- click to download (PDF format) Being large items ploughs are awkward to accommodate, and nowadays few people fully understand the differences between one and another or how they were used. This makes them a challenge to interpret but Sally’s and Judith’s work considers the many interesting and absorbing ways we treat ploughs and ploughing in our museums.

Download The Power of the Plough (PDF format).

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AGM and Conference at Acton Scott

On Thursday 24th May the Network held the 2012 AGM at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm, Church Stretton.

photograph: Mike Wright demonstrates wheelwrighting at Acton Scott © Rural Museums Network

Mike Wright demonstrates wheelwrighting at Acton Scott © Rural Museums Network

Following the business of the AGM we heard from Sally Ackroyd about her publication ‘The Power of the Plough’ and copies were distributed fresh off the press. We discussed digitising Distributed National Collection data and formally established a ‘DNC working group’ to help with this process. We also saw the working draft of the new RMN website that will be more interactive, having social media links. Continue reading

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Professor Alexander Fenton

Professor Alexander Fenton, the acknowledged leading expert on Scottish rural life, has died. During his long career he was Director of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and of the European Ethnological Research Centre.  He was well known and liked my many members of the Rural Museums Network, and will be sadly missed.

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The Power of the Plough

Two years ago the Rural Museums Network successfully bid to the Museums Association Effective Collections programme to run a ploughs project.

Image: plough, © Rural Museums Network

English Ploughs, 1748 © Rural Museums Network

The second stage of the exercise has been to consider and review the surprising number of ways that museums interpret ploughs and ploughing. The Network has appointed Sally Ackroyd and Judith Caruthers to create a resource that will help museums to make the most of their ploughs, and their booklet ‘The Power of the Plough’ will be published shortly. Continue reading

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