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Lancaster City Museum celebrates centenary

One hundred years to the day since it opened, a celebratory event was held at Lancaster City Museum to mark the milestone over the weekend.

A special peal of the Priory bells entitled ‘Lancaster Delights’ could be heard across the city as guests arrived at the party hosted by Lancaster City Council’s Museums Service and the Friends of Lancaster City Museum.

The Friends had also paid for a special cake made by local cake designer, Cate Gardner, which was decorated with images of some of the objects in the museum collections.

The cake was cut by the mayor of Lancaster, Councillor Roger Dennison. A century previously – on November 5, 1923 - his predecessor, Alderman James Oglethorpe had officially opened the museum.

Alderman Oglethorpe’s grandson, Philip Oglethorpe, was also among the invited guests who included people associated with the museum past and present as well as Friends of Lancaster City Museum.

Following some musical entertainment provided by Eleanor Servante and Andy Hornby and his band, they were welcomed by the city council’s museum development manager, Carolyn Dalton.

“Right from the start, the council was determined that the museum would be about items of local historical interest,’’ she said.

‘’We have tried to keep that vision alive by telling the story of Lancaster and district.”

Originally on the first floor of the former town hall in Market Square, the museum eventually took over the entire building and still features some of the objects first displayed 100 years ago.

The museum continues to collect objects of local interest and has just acquired a token from a First World War projectile factory in Lancaster.

The mayor was particularly honoured to officially open the centenary event as also being the council’s armed forces champion, he had worked closely with the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum which is housed within the building.

“We have to learn the lessons of history or be doomed to repeat them,” Councillor Dennison said.

“The City Museum has experienced significant challenges during the course of its 100th birthday year, and throughout it all it has had Friends who have stood by its side, and will continue to be there for it no matter what happens in the next hundred years.”

As the museum entered its second century, Friends chair, Christopher Tinmouth hoped the milestone would mark a new renaissance for the heritage of Lancaster.

The museum’s centenary exhibition features 100 objects chosen from its vast collections which are also the subject of a special series of podcasts. People are being invited to vote for their favourite and currently, a model of Morecambe’s Super Swimming Stadium leads the poll.

The city council are hoping to submit some capital funding bids to improve the museum’s accessibility over the next few years to ensure it continues to develop into its second century.

Over the years, the Lancaster Museums family has grown to include both Lancaster Maritime Museum (below) on St George's Quay and the tiny Cottage Museum on Castle Hill.

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