Inside the Museum
The museum is split into three main exhibition rooms, all filled with interesting artefacts, outside there is a Fenland Cottage, and outdoor displays.
The Haylock Room
The first room you enter when visiting the museum is The Haylock Room, where the Stewards Desk and Computer available for public use are located. There are three Victorian room displays on the left as you enter, the kitchen is first, followed by a parlour and finally a nursery. The rest of this area of the room has displays of souvenir and crested china, dairy equipment, smoothing irons and various lamps.
At the other end of the room is "Craftsmen's corner", which a large collection of tools, some of which the use for them is unknown! Also in this room is Railway Memorabillia, instruments of early medical treatment (or torture), paintings, bottles, needlework accessories, model carts, horses and information about local horse owners and breeders.
The star exhibit in the Haylock Room is the collection of Medals which were awarded to March Railway Engine Driver Benjamin Gimbert whom along with his fireman James Nightall, saved Soham from disaster when the ammunitions train they were hauling caught fire!
James Nightall, and Signalman Frank Bridges, were killed instantly but Ben survived being thrown 200 yards by the force of the explosion that destroyed Soham Station and signal box. The damage to the town of Soham was extensive but there were no other casualties. You can read more about this event in "But for such men as these" by Anthony Day, this can be purchased from the Museum.
The West Room
In this room visitors spend hours researching their family history see the Archives page for available material.
The drainage of the Fens is explained, together with a display of the Drainage tools.
The Fens were important in Roman times and locally excavated items are exhibited with some interpretive material. The Benwick clock face, from St. Mary's Church which was demolished in 1985 before it sank into the peat it was built upon, is hung proudly on the wall.
The Parish Communion Plate from St Wendreda’s church is also lodged in the Museum. Sharing the case is a medal from Doddington and Hamlets Cavalry that we have on a two year loan. This is an medal we knew nothing about until it was brought to us on loan.
Originally deposited in St Wendreda’s Church in 1824, the Doddington and Hamlets Cavalry Guidon (Flag), a rare survivor from 1798, has been consolidated and is hidden beneath a light proof cover but visitors can lift the cover and look into the past.
The West Room also has many albums of bus photographs, from all over East Anglia, and some bus models collected by Terry Harley. Terry was a Museum member and when he died his important collection came to the Museum.
The North Room
The most spacious room in the museum, has Military Displays from the Boer, First and Second World Wars such as maps, weaponry, uniforms, medals, badges and more!
There is a huge collection of radios and cameras, ranging the past century.
The ASLEF banner carefully restored by the Textile Conservation Centre (now sadly closed) is now displayed in a cabinet constructed by David Pulley, ex March Grammar School pupil and former classmate of Museum Vice-Chairman Richard Munns.
The left hand photgraph is the side on display, the reverse is against the wall permanently so photographs are on display alongside together with details of the conservation work.
Photograph albums in the North Room
As well as this, there are photograph albums of all the local towns and villages, such as Benwick, Doddington and Littleport, and there is a numerous amount of information in these books too! For a full index, open the document below.
The Fenland Cottage
The Fenland Cottage was purpose built to house the cooking range, copper and bread oven which was rescued from an authentic cottage at Chain Bridge, on the northern outskirts of town. For school visits we wheel out the mangle and let the children get their hands wet and turn the mangle handle. We have removed the male mannequin that used to frighten some children.
They think it is great fun and that their Mums should do the washing this way.The privy came from the garden of a house in St Peter’s Road and is strictly only for looking at. This building is not usually open but Museum Stewards will unlock the cottage for interested visitors.
Outside is the Worksop, and in front of it is all which remains of the Hereward School (1933-1983) The building opposite houses the Diesel drainage pump from Burrowmoor Pumping Station in additional other items, this building is not generally opened as most things are clearly visible through the windows.
The glazed building in the middle is the Outside Display marked on the plan and contains small items of agricultural equipment and Palmer’s Acetylene generator used for providing gas lighting throughout a house.
The Fenland cottage and the Forge which was taken from a Blacksmith’s workshop at Chain Bridge are also both outside. The forge fire is fully functional but the chimney smokes a bit.
The former cycle shed has been rebuilt and now contains assorted bugone laundry equipment other large items of local interest.
This is only an insight as to what we house in the museum, come and visit us to see more!