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Tunbridge Wells Cultural and Learning Hub

It’s great to be back with the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery team.  Plans for the new hub of museum, library, adult ed, tourism and community services are coming together quickly and I’m working with museum designers Metaphor.  Tunbridge Wells’ excellent collections are going to populate the whole building, and I’m researching and writing lots of content on those collections for the project.  Metaphor are turning the often surprising stories of Tunbridge Wells into a fresh and exciting way of enjoying all that stuff.

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British (English Naive) School; Speldhurst Church, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Struck by Lightning; Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/speldhurst-church-tunbridge-wells-kent-struck-by-lightning-77294

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Silverstone Heritage Project awarded £9.1m by Heritage Lottery Fund

Many congratulations to friends and colleagues at the Silverstone Heritage Project, the BRDC Archive and Mather Design on their Stage 2 HLF pass.  Plans are now moving quickly towards the Spring 2019 opening date for the Centre, not just building and fitting out, but gathering in those private collections that are such an important part of British racing heritage.  More details at  http://www.silverstone.co.uk/about/silverstone-heritage-experience/

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Kent Cricket Heritage Trust

I’ve been helping out the recently established KCCC Heritage Trust with curatorial advice on their collections.  Care and cataloguing are the priorities and they have a great collection to share more widely.  It was a privilege to handle material like the original 1876 scorebook for WG Grace’s 344 against Kent – the first ever score over 300 and his highest.  There are many memories of the 1970s glory years to bring a tear to the eye of us Kent fans, but also an eye on contemporary collecting.

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Qatar Olympic and Sport Museum research

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Mather are designing the new 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sport Museum in Doha and I’ve been helping with the content development.  That’s meant researching the story of  different sports from all around the world, some familiar and loved (probably a bit too much cricket in there), others less known.  Camel racing, anyone?

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Luffield Priory and the Silverstone elephant

My latest research work at Silverstone has unearthed the story of Luffield Priory, the abbey complex on the site.  It’s a fascinating tale of medieval life – and monastic misbehaviour – largely lost under the plough and the JCB but coming to life from the records and the digs.  And I took an excursion into circus history to track down the elephant who visited the circuit in the 1950s!

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Back to Silverstone

I’m enjoying more work on the Silverstone Heritage Project, this time researching and writing up just about everything that’s happened at the circuit.  It’s involved revisiting many years of watching sports with the F1 story, but new ground for me with motorcycles and production cars.  This great picture is of Sheila Van Damme with her Sunbeam at Silverstone in about 1955.  Her racing team partner was Stirling Moss.

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Silverstone Heritage research

What a great job!  I’ve just completed researching the history of RAF Silverstone and have now turned to the racing history of the site for the Silverstone Heritage Live Project.  Silverstone’s owners, the British Racing Drivers Club, are leading this multi-million pound visitor experience, and I’m working directly with designers Mather and Co and the BRDC Archive.

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`Belvedere Village’ to be published in `Bygone Kent’

`Belvedere Village – Victorian Prayers and Profit’ is a primary source- based article on the rapid development of Upper Belvedere in the 1800s.  It’s a tale of pubs and patrimony, crooks and committees, old salts, villas and watercress.  `Bygone Kent’ is the magazine of Kent’s history and `Belvedere Village’ will appear shortly.

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