Projects and a Peak District Excursion

This month has been quite varied, with a number of different projects to finish off before term begins, and a bit of rest and relaxation to try and crowbar in there somewhere as well.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I have been a participant in two projects that involve the university and external heritage organisations, at Bramall Hall in Stockport and for the Museum of Science and Industry.

For the Bramall Hall project there have been visits to Stockport Library for further research in the local archives and a couple of trips to Cheadle to finalise the final design brief with the curator at Stockport Museums. I am in the process now of writing the content for two interactive public exhibits exploring the history of the hall and the area, which will then be sent to a software development company to design the final product.

Research has continued for the Museum of Science and Industry as part of a team reviewing the inclusion of underrepresented groups in the museums sector, creating a toolkit to aid curators over the next decade as they redevelop the museum and look to include more varied content in their permanent displays and collections. My research has focused on LGBT history in Manchester and contribution to science and industry as well as the global dimension to Manchester’s cotton economy. We have arranged with MOSI to deliver our final report at the end of September and to present our findings and recommendations to a staff meeting of all museum employees, which should be an enjoyable, if slightly daunting, experience.

Somewhere in between those pieces of work I managed to squeeze in writing two entries for an encyclopaedia of Atlantic history, to be published next year, and to keep up to date with PhD work, although it has had to take a backseat somewhat for the past month.

I also had the added responsibility for a couple of weeks as Chief Zookeeper at my parents’ house when they went away on holiday. I was able to work at theirs using the wonders of the internet, but was frequently taken away from my studies by the obligatory twice-daily dog walking, the morning gauntlet of egg collection and chicken feeding (you don’t want to get into an argument with an angry hen at 7am, their beaks are pretty sharp), and sporadic placation of the resident cat with fish-based morsels.

Bank Holiday weekend was spent in the Peak District in an isolated cottage 5 miles outside of Buxton, on top of the windswept moors. The final day of the holiday was spent trekking about 15 miles from the cottage to Macclesfield, uphill and down dale, through picturesque hidden valleys beside burbling streams, along the moors amidst the bright purple heather and the clucking of grouse, and squelching through peat bogs in a desperate attempt to keep myself from sinking into the pitchy depths.

River Dane at the Three Shire Heads, where the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet.

River Dane at the Three Shire Heads, where the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet.

At 1,600 feet on the top of Shutlingsloe you can see right across Cheshire towards Jodrell Bank, the cooling towers at Runcorn, and the entirety of Manchester laid out before you. Through my binoculars I could clearly spy the Owens Park Tower, which brought to mind the semester about to begin, with a little pang of wistfulness at the shortness of summer, but also a hint of enthusiasm about the start of a new year.

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