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See Museum’s ‘Guildford At Work’ Exhibition – Staged By The Joining In! Men’s Group

A new exhibition is now on display at Guildford Museum that focuses on the town’s industries and services – and is well worth a visit.

Members of the Joining In! Men’s Group and their guests, with the Mayor of Guildford, Nigel Manning, and Guildford Museum’s access officer Melanie Holier (left), at the launch party of the Guildford at Work exhibition.

It has been staged in conjunction with the museum by the Joining In! Men’s Group that meets monthly in Park Barn.

Members of the group, that has a focus on local history and nostalgia, came together to offer brief histories and personal memories of a number of Guildford industries, trades and services, plus their own artefacts, all on display at the exhibition. It is called Guildford at Work.

A peek inside the display cabinets full of fascinating artefacts and ephemera. Picture from Guildford Museum’s Facebook page.

Featured are firms such as motor vehicle manufacturers Dennis Brothers, machine tool engineering firm Drummonds Brothers, electric motor makers Nelco, Plastic Coatings, bus and coach firms, the Friary Meux brewery, timbers merchants, builders’ suppliers such as Angel, Son & Gray, printing firms, the railways and more.

The exhibition was launched on Wednesday afternoon (November 22) with tea and cakes for members of the Joining In! Men’s Group and their guests, plus others who had supplied vintage pictures and ephemera, with a visit by the Mayor of Guildford, Nigel Manning.

Retired railwayman Geoff Burch has loaned a piece of equipment from the cab of a former electric train to the exhibition. It is the control unit, known as a sub-controller. Here he shows the mayor how it worked.

The group was formed in 2013 following a call to provide a service for older men in the Park Barn area and around for them to meet up and socialise. The co-ordinator of Voluntary Action South West Surrey’s Joining In! project, that supports community involvement in the Westborough and Stoke wards of Guildford, David Rose, helped to establish the group.

He said: “There were a number of men who were interested in forming a group, but it was not known what form it might take. With my interest in local history I suggested it could be a kind of nostalgia group, with the emphasis on things ‘boys’ are usually interested in – steam trains, buses, aircraft, and history topics linked to Guildford.

“For the first few meetings I showed some of my archive pictures of Guildford and we talked about them and that seemed to go down well. Since then, many of those who come along have given presentations about what they have done in their working lives and it has been absolutely fascinating.

“For example, Ian Butcher has spoken about his engineering training at Woolwich Arsenal and his National Service in Africa. Eddie Soan spoke about his National Service in the RAF on Christmas Island when nuclear testing was taking place. Recently, we showed some of the wonderful pictures Ernie Moseling has painted of historic aircraft and racing cars, and he spoke about them.

“Our chairman Bob McShee often shows pictures and talks about the steam railways and museums he has recently visited. And with member Steve Mills, they give us updates on the developments at Brooklands Museum in Weybridge. There is always something that the guys love to hear about and discuss.

“Many of the guys have worked for Guildford firms and services or have relatives who have, so there has been plenty of material to draw on for the exhibition.

“With funding from local grants schemes that pay for the hire of the hall at St Clare’s Church, where we meet, we do not need to charge membership or a fee to attend. All we suggest is that people put in a small donations for the refreshments that are provided by our lovely volunteer Shirley Pullen.

“The group helps to bring people together and does a lot for those who may be socially isolated, or not in the best of health. What I like is that anyone new who comes along is made very welcome from the moment they step into the hall.”

The Joining In! Men’s Group meets on the first Thursday of the month (except August) at St Clare’s Church Hall, Cabell Road, Park Barn GU2 8JW. More details from David Rose on 07825 419498.

One of the display panels at the exhibition Guildford at Work.

The museum says that the Guildford at Work exhibition aims to be the first of an ongoing programme of temporary exhibitions, organised by different community groups in the borough. Funded by Arts Council England, it is part of its Your Stories, Your Museum project, which is involving visitors and Guildford residents in the work of, and future of, Guildford Museum.

The Joining In! Men’s Group thanks the museum’s access office Melanie Holliker, who, because of her hard work, has made the exhibition possible. She has visited the group several times over the past few months listening to the men’s stories and gathering their artefacts to put on display.

A wooden cask from the Friary Meux brewery. Some of the exhibits on display are from Guildford Museum’s own collection.

The exhibition runs until mid January and the museum in Quarry Street is open Monday to Saturday, 11am to 5pm, entry is free.

Timed to coincide with the exhibition, the Guildford Town Guides are leading a free walk tilted Made in Guildford on Monday, November 27 at 2pm from Tunsgate in the High Street.

More vintage pictures and items on display.

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