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Recent temporary exhibitions

Previous temporary exhibitions have included the following subjects:

Gifts in Store

(Monday 23 November 2015 – Saturday 18 June 2016)

This exhibition featured an interesting selection of items and photographs that had been donated to the Museum over the past decade.

Victory & Beyond: Post-War Dartford 1945-1954

(Monday 2 February 2015 until Saturday 14 November 2015)

This exhibition looked at life in Dartford in the period 1945-1954, from VE Day through the ten year period up to the final end of rationing. The exhibition showed special events and everyday life from those ten years including the opening of Temple Hill housing estate, local Festival of Britain events, the 1953 flooding of Dartford Marshes and the Coronation.

On War Service - Dartford 1914-1918

(Monday 14 July 2014 until Saturday 24 January 2015)

On War Service looked at what was happening in Dartford during the First World War.

The Calm Before the Storm – Dartford 1900-1914

(Monday 3 March until Saturday 5 July 2014)

This exhibition looked at life in Dartford in the years of innocence leading up to the First World War.

Entertaining Dartford

(Monday 30 September until Saturday 22 February 2014)

This exhibition looked at various forms of entertainment in Dartford through the years, such as theatre, music hall, cinema and 1950's/1960's pop music.

A Charter for Growth

(Saturday 27 April until Saturday 21 September 2013)

A Charter for Growth took its inspiration from the 80th anniversary of Dartford being awarded Borough status in 1933.

The exhibition looked at the events surrounding the granting of the Charter of Incorporation itself, as well as covering the story of Dartford through the 1930s.

Just Add Imagination - Creative play over the years

(Saturday 1 December 2012 until Saturday 20 April 2013)

Just Add Imagination looked at hobbies and toys which require the use of imagination and self-expression in one form or another.

One example of this is toys which involve the making of things, for example construction toys such as Meccano and Lego, plastic model kits such as Airfix and craft toys such as Plasticine.

Another use of imagination involves the creation of an imaginary world, either one of role play in which children can pretend to perform the same tasks as their parents or other adults, or one in which their toys act out the adventures, e.g. toy soldiers, dolls, Action Man etc.

As well as the themes mentioned above, the exhibition was also a good excuse to see how toys used to look or to indulge in some nostalgia of the sort of toys with which you used to play!

We would like to express our gratitude to Airfix who loaned us some of the exhibits from their collection, and also supplied model kits as prizes for the children's colouring competition.

Play To Win!

(2 July 2012 until 24 November 2012)

This exhibition used the London 2012 Olympics as inspiration to look back at the history of sport in our Borough. The exhibition featured a varied selection of objects, photographs and text to tell the story of local sport, both amateur and professional. It covered an assortment of clubs, individuals and venues, some still with us and others which are long gone.

Long to Reign Over Us

(4 February until 23 June 2012)

Dartford Borough Museum celebrated Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by looking at local events at the time of the Accession and Coronation, together with more recent royal visits to the Borough.

Food for Thought

(5 November 2011 until 28 January 2012)

Dartford Borough Museum explored the Borough's culinary history in this exhibition.

'Food for Thought' used numerous photographs to give a 'taste' of local food shops and eating places over the years.

The exhibition also celebrated the 175th anniversary of Mrs Beeton's birth and the 150th anniversary of her most famous work, 'The Book of Household Management'.

An assortment of kitchen utensils from years gone by also formed part of the exhibition.

Hang Out the Bunting!

(18 June until 29 October 2011)

This exhibition took its inspiration from the 75th anniversary of Dartford's first Carnival, held in 1936. This has now evolved to become the Dartford Festival.

In addition to the Carnival, the exhibition covered all sorts of outdoor events held in the Borough over the years such as various historic pageants, coronation processions and jubilee celebrations. These were illustrated with photographs of the events and relevant objects from the collection of Dartford Borough Museum.

After a Fashion

(26 March 2011 until 11 June 2011)

Dartford Borough Museum's exhibition celebrated the variety of fashion and clothing shops which have clothed the people of Dartford from the 19th century until the present.

The exhibition told the stories of those shops using a combination of photographs and text, including reminiscences of staff from certain stores.

Also included were various fashion items and accessories from the Museum's own collection of Dartford-related memorabilia.

Delving into our Past

(2 October 2010 until 19 March 2011)

Dartford Borough Museum's exhibition celebrated the centenary of the Dartford Historical and Antiquarian Society, the Borough's oldest heritage organisation. Formed on 3 October 1910, DHAS is still going strong, with a regular programme of lectures and outings, together with an annual newsletter.

Rather than present a standard history of the Society, this exhibition used articles from the Society's early 'Transactions' and later 'Newsletters' to explore the wide-ranging interests of the members over the years. These articles were backed up by period photographs, archaeological objects from excavations undertaken by the Society and architectural features retrieved from some of Dartford's most historic buildings which are no longer with us.

Highlights included a rare decorated Roman tile, Saxon spearheads, windows from the 'Chicken Run' range of buildings and a collection of crested china relating to Dartford.

Reach for the Sky

(3 July 2010 until 25 September 2010)

Dartford Borough Museum's exhibition took its inspiration from the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain but also looked at the history of aviation in the Borough of Dartford from the early days of flight. In addition to the Borough being part of the front line for the Battle of Britain, there were many other tales to be told, starting with Hiram Maxim's flying machine which 'flew' in July 1894. Dartford Marshes also played their part with the testing of locally made Vickers aircraft including one of the first 'airliners', the training of Royal Flying Corps pilots and the use of the same airfield during the defence of London against Zeppelin attacks. In the early 1930s the land now covered by the Fleet Estate was used by a series of touring 'flying circus' air display teams which gave many Dartfordians their first taste of air travel.

Past Presents

(20 March 2010 until 26 June 2010)

Dartford Borough Museum's exhibition showcased a selection of objects which had been generously donated to Dartford Borough Museum. Every year various objects and material closely related to the history of the Borough of Dartford are added to the Museum's Reserve Collection. The Museum has been collecting relevant material since it first opened to the public in January 1908. Some items are purchased from dealers and auctions but even these are paid for with money given by the public, using our donations box. This exhibition focused on a variety of examples of donations and purchases which had been added to our collection since 2005. Topics included souvenirs, local companies, local shops and wartime items.

Toy Stories 2

(7 November 2009 until 13 March 2010)

The 60th anniversary of Airfix model kits and of the children's Toyland character Noddy, both occurring in 2009, acted as our inspiration for this exhibition.

Following on from our previous Toy Stories exhibition in 2001/02, Dartford Borough Museum presented a brand new display on the same theme.

The exhibition featured a selection of toys, playthings and informative text which described the history behind a number of toy companies and their products.In addition the exhibition also covered various toy shops which existed in Dartford in the past. We asked the public to tell us their memories of the toy shops which they remembered in Dartford and you are still welcome to do so.

If War Should Come

(11 July 2009 until 31 October 2009)

This exhibition commemorated the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.

The exhibition followed the preparations which were made in the Borough of Dartford as well as the Rural District in the two years prior to the declaration of war announced by the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain at 11 o'clock on Sunday 3 September 1939.

The title of the exhibition was taken from the name of a public information film in which members of the public were told what preparations they should make just in case. By the time that the film was released the War had actually started and so it had to be renamed 'Do It Now'. There was also a parallel leaflet campaign entitled 'Some Things You Should Know If War Should Come'. The exhibition included a selection of objects from this period, photographs (largely taken by John Topham, an official war photographer) and text comprising a mixture of local newspaper reports of the time and reminiscences from local people who recalled both the preparations and events of the actual day on which war broke out.

In Pursuit of Excellence

(28 March 2009 - 4 July 2009)

This exhibition celebrated the 120th anniversary of the arrival of Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. in Dartford. The company had been formed 9 years earlier by two American pharmacists, Silas M. Burroughs and Henry S. Wellcome. When they outgrew their London factory, the Dartford site was chosen for its size and good transport links. It was the Dartford manufacturing plant which produced the goods which made Wellcome into a world-leading, innovative pharmaceutical company.

This exhibition included objects, photographs and text covering the history of the company. Some of these objects and photographs had been loaned by members of the public. Several important items were loaned by GlaxoSmithKline from the collection held at the Dartford site.

Also included in the exhibition were reminiscences from former employees of the company.

Fun 'N' Games

(8 November 2008 - 21 March 2009)

This exhibition covered the history of games and puzzles. The exhibition used examples from the Museum's own collection, together with some loaned items, to illustrate the changes in the various types of games.

The development of traditional games such as chess, draughts and dominoes was covered, along with 19th and early 20th century card games. Also featured were old family favourites such as Monopoly and Cluedo together with other less well-known games.

The stories of many of these games were traced using the latest research available although many of the older games have such entwined histories that it can be almost impossible to unravel their true origins.

Items on display included four intricately carved chess pieces which could date from the 17th century and an illustrated card game made in Germany in the 1830s.

Snapshots of a Century 1908 - 2008

(28 June 2008 - 1 November 2008)

This exhibition was designed to continue the link with the Museum's centenary by taking a look at the wide variety of events which have taken place in the Borough of Dartford since 1908.

A selection of photographs was supplemented with relevant exhibits from the Museum's reserve collection, including recent donations.

The exhibition was further enhanced by the inclusion of reminiscences from local people who either took part in or witnessed some of these events. Museum staff are always interested to receive written reminiscences of any local events such as those which featured in this exhibition, e.g. Charter Day in September 1933, the street parties of 1945, right through to witnessing a royal visit or the flood of 1968.

Home of Discoveries: Dartford Borough Museum 1908 - 2008

(12 January 2008 - 21 June 2008)

Dartford Borough Museum, one of the liveliest and most interesting small museums in Kent, has been celebrating its centenary. The Museum staff staged a special exhibition to mark the occasion.

The exhibition outlined the origins and growth of Dartford Museum and provided an insight into the work of the modern-day museum. Much of this work takes place behind the scenes.

Dartford Museum started from very humble beginnings in 1908. The early founders were men and women of vision, keen to preserve important aspects of the town's heritage in a building open to visitors. The Museum of 1908 has grown beyond recognition.

Today there are over 20,000 individual objects in the museum collections covering such diverse fields as geology, archaeology, social and natural history.

The overriding purpose of the Museum is to preserve important objects, whether natural or man-made, for the benefit of future generations of Dartfordians.

The role of Dartford Museum today is just as important as it was in 1908, perhaps even more so. The rapid pace of change and 'progress' since 1908 has threatened or obliterated much of our local heritage.

Manual trades and crafts have disappeared; modern inventions have displaced what were once familiar everyday objects.

The selective collecting and interpretation of objects by museums helps us to keep in touch with our historical roots. Museums exist to educate and entertain visitors in an enjoyable sort of way.

The Story of Temple Hill

The year 2007 marked the 60th anniversary of the official opening of the first phase of the Temple Hill estate by the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee on 4 July 1947.

The Museum's exhibition used a selection of photographs, objects and information to tell the story of these last 60 years. The history of this area as a place of habitation however goes back many thousands of years, with evidence of settlements from the Palaeolithic period through the Iron Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods, into the medieval period. One Roman flagon, found at Joyce Green in 1897, was put on display in Dartford for the very first time.

This was kindly loaned by the Guildhall Museum, Rochester, where it is normally kept in storage. This was also a second chance, for anyone who missed them previously, to see part of the collection of Anglo-Saxon artefacts discovered on the site of St Edmund's Church, Temple Hill. These were kindly loaned by Maidstone Museum where they are now kept.

More recent aspects of this area's history such as the hospitals, the airfield, firework factory, churches etc. were also covered by this exhibition.

Also on display were a large satellite photograph of the estate together with a large modern Ordnance Survey map overlaid by a 1930s Ordnance Survey map so that visitors could easily see all of the changes which have taken place in the area.

By visiting this exhibition visitors were able to find out about the folks that lived on the hill.

Made in Dartford

(3 March 2007-30 June 2007)

This exhibition showcased the wide variety of products which have been made in the past by various industries in the Borough of Dartford.

These included the production of foodstuffs for the local area and beyond such as flour, soft drinks and beer. Did you know that one of the flour mills in Dartford used to supply flour to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria?

Aspects of other famous local companies were also covered such as the Hallford lorries of J. & E. Hall and the vehicle bodywork of J. C. Beadle.

Several clockmakers had businesses in Dartford and examples of their work were included in this exhibition.

Also featured were the fabric printing industry and the making of clay pipes.

To end with a bang, Dartford was also home to several manufacturers of gunpowder and fireworks. Therefore the display included information on the powder mills and a selection of dummy fireworks made by Joseph Wells & Co.

Winter Mixture

This was not an exhibition about clove-flavoured hard-boiled sweets, but was in fact a display of different aspects of the winter season, both local and national.

Obviously, Christmas played a large part in the exhibition, with information on how various traditions started. Details of how the Victorians celebrated Christmas were featured using a selection of postcards, cards and exhibits from the Museum reserve collection.

Decorations and forms of entertainment from other periods were also on display.

Christmas during wartime, both at home and at the front, was represented by a selection of objects and documents.

Cookery books with special recipes for Christmas and winter were featured, including a 1786 recipe for mince pies.

The season of winter is also connected with extremes in weather and the exhibition illustrated this, with photographs and information on the 'Great Frost' which affected this country in 1895 when sub-zero temperatures gripped the nation.

During this time the River Thames froze and Dartford Creek was impassable for six weeks. The mill pond was also frozen and gave local people an opportunity to improve their skating skills.

This exhibition hopefully gave locals and visitors alike a chance to compare the winter months this year with those of days gone by.

That's Entertainment!

(24 June 2006 - 25 November 2006)

This exhibition was staged to commemorate the centenary of the Dartford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society which was founded in 1906 and produced its first show, The Mikado, in April 1907.

During their first one hundred years, members of the Society performed at various local venues, entertaining generations of Dartfordians. Since 1982 their main productions have been staged at the Orchard Theatre with smaller events at their headquarters, Heathfield Hall, in Heath Lane, Dartford.

Although Gilbert and Sullivan operettas formed the main repertoire in the early days, shows these days are more likely to be hit Broadway and West End musicals, with the latest project being The Witches of Eastwick.

This exhibition was created largely using the Society's own archive which includes photographs, posters, programmes, props and costume. Other material came from the Local Studies collection housed in Dartford Library.

Staff at Dartford Borough Museum would like to thank Mike Hopley, Lynn Hall and Tracy Parker, members of DAODS, for their help in organising and setting up this exhibition.

Under Your Feet

(4 March 2006 - 17 June 2006)

This exhibition covered the subject of archaeological finds from the Borough of Dartford. Some of the excavations were very recent, so recent in some cases that we were only able to include photographs since the objects were still being studied and conserved by experts.

Other work had been carried out some years ago but the interesting finds had rarely been seen on display anywhere.

Some of the digs were undertaken on Sundays by the local amateur group, Dartford District Archaeological Group, which consists of a cross-section of the general public from Dartford.

Other sites, particularly those being redeveloped, need to be excavated quickly so developers are required by law to pay for archaeological contractors to do the work. Some finds were loaned to us by these archaeological units, for which we are grateful.

Subjects covered in the exhibition included:

  • Early use of land soon to be Dartford's new football stadium.
  • Further details of a Tudor royal residence in Dartford.
  • A medieval building rediscovered after a gap of about seventy years.
  • Two previous undiscovered Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, one under a school playing field on West Hill and the other next to a church on Temple Hill.
  • A surprise find during restoration work at the Holy Trinity Church in Dartford.
  • Evidence of local prehistoric people eating elephants (first evidence in the country for this).

The following organisations helped in various ways in the setting up of this exhibition:

  • AOC Archaeology Ltd
  • Archaeological Solutions (formerly Hertfordshire Archaeological Trust)
  • Archaeology South-East
  • Dartford District Archaeological Group
  • Oxford Archaeology (formerly Oxford Archaeological Unit)
  • Rail Link Engineering
  • Thomas Ford & Partners
  • Wessex Archaeology

What's in Store?

(26 November 2005 - 25 February 2006)

This exhibition comprised a selection of recent donations to the Museum's collection.

These items could be loosely grouped under the following subjects: First and Second World Wars; local industry and other employment; household items; toys and games; education; royal memorabilia and local souvenirs.

Since the Museum officially opened in 1908, a collection has slowly built up, largely from generous donations from members of the public. In the late 1950s, Dartford Borough Council took a decision for this Museum to concentrate on the history of the Borough of Dartford.

Our collection policy continues with this in mind, and consequently we are always interested in receiving new additions for our collection. Unfortunately, with restrictions on our storage space, we still have to be selective in what we eventually accept for the Museum.

One of the main ways in which people donate objects to the Museum is that they are sorting through items at home when they discover objects for which they no longer have a use, but which they think should be preserved.

This is also the case when people are moving house, sometimes to live abroad. A variation on this is when relatives are clearing houses belonging to recently deceased elderly local residents and again find objects which they believe may be of interest to us.

Sometimes people donate items which they have dug up in their gardens. Similarly, some items are donated by metal detectorists.

Occasionally we are contacted by dealers when they obtain an object which has a strong Dartford connection. Of course, they usually wish to receive payment for the item although we have been offered some small items for free. On rare occasions we are informed of major items coming up for auction and sometimes we are interested in bidding for these objects.

Any objects which are purchased for the Museum collection are paid for from our Purchase Fund which consists entirely of the small change dropped into our donations box. This Fund grows from year to year and covers most of our needs.

These are just a few of the ways in which objects are added to the Museum collection. There are, however, as many variations of these reasons and methods as there are objects!

Our Finest Hour

(30 April 2005 - 19 November 2005)

This exhibition used the 60th anniversary of VE Day as the starting point from which to look back over the way in which the Second World War affected the lives of people living in the Borough of Dartford.

Various aspects of life on the Home Front were examined through a mixture of objects, photographs, research and personal reminiscences from Dartford residents who lived through those times.

In addition to their normal employment, many local people 'did their bit' by belonging to the Home Guard or various Civil Defence organizations and these were covered in depth. One of the recurring themes which affected everyone in those days was food rationing and that was also featured, along with clothes rationing.

Fund raising was also important at the time and the achievements of Dartford residents were also celebrated.

Quietness and Confidence

(30 October 2004 - 8 January 2005)

This exhibition took its name from the school motto of Dartford Grammar School for Girls, one of Dartford's oldest secondary schools, which celebrated its centenary in 2004.

It was established as Dartford County School in Essex Road in 1904 but has been located in Shepherds Lane since 1912. It was the very first secondary school for girls to be started by Kent County Council.

This exhibition was arranged in conjunction with Dartford Grammar School for Girls and used the school archive to tell the story through a selection of objects, photographs and reminiscences. Many former pupils loaned their own items and photographs in order to complete the picture.

During Dartford Borough Museum's three month closure, many of the photographs and much of the text (but none of the objects) were put on display in the Peter Blake Gallery of Dartford Library.

Transport in Time

(13 March 2004 - 23 October 2004)

This exhibition celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of the world's first steam railway locomotive which was designed by Richard Trevithick, a Cornish engineer who came to Dartford to work for John Hall (founder of J. & E. Hall) in 1832.

He stayed at the Bull Hotel (now called the Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel) until his untimely death in 1833. He is buried in St Edmund's Pleasance on East Hill and is commemorated in several places in the town. The exhibition used a selection of photographs, images and objects, taken from our reserve collection, to examine the various types of early transport which were used locally.

The methods of transport covered in the exhibition ranged from horse-drawn vehicles, steam trains, early cars and trams to trolley buses.

Also featured were little known transport projects such as the 'Darenth Valley Railway' and the 'Dartford Ship Canal', both of which only reached the planning stage.

Steadfast and Faithful - Dartford in the 1930s

(13 September 2003 - 6 March 2004)

This exhibition looked at events in Dartford between 1930 and 1939. The exhibition opened on the day of the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Borough of Dartford in 1933 when the town was granted its Charter of Incorporation, and this event was prominently featured.

A small photographic display entitled 'Dartford's Flying Start' was also set up at this time. This took its inspiration from the centenary of the first flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903. The display centred on the local contribution towards the early history of flight.

This included Sir Hiram Maxim's steam-powered flying machine which 'flew' in 1894, the First World War aerodrome and testing ground at Joyce Green and Sir Alan Cobham's Flying Circuses which visited Dartford on several occasions in the 1930s.

Skilled Hands

(3 May 2003 - 6 September 2003)

This exhibition showcased a range of trades and crafts ranging from various aspects of needlework, such as lace-making and cross-stitch, to Gunflint manufacture and the making of clay pipes.

The exhibition included examples of the specialist tools and equipment from clay pipe moulds, pattern blocks for handprinting fabric and printing plates for bank notes, down to lace bobbins and sewing clamps.

In addition to these items, the exhibition also included finished pieces of work such as samplers, lace and broderie anglaise. All of the items on display came from the Museum's reserve collection.

In addition to the main temporary exhibition, there were also two small photographic displays. One of these commemorated the Golden Jubilee of the Queen's Coronation, showing how Dartford celebrated that day in 1953. The other recounted the story of how Dartford coped with a less happy event in the same year, when the Thames burst its banks and flooded large parts of north Kent.

From Pillar to Post

(7 December 2002 - 26 April 2003)

This took its inspiration from the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the first pillar box to be installed in the British Isles . The exhibition featured a mixture of objects, pictures and photographs illustrating the early history of the postal service, with particular reference to the local area.

Happy and Glorious

(25 May 2002 - 30 November 2002)

This celebrated Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002. It featured a varied selection of local objects and photographs, together with other souvenirs, which revealed the events which took place in Dartford at the time of the Accession in 1952 and the Coronation in 1953. Objects on display included contemporary newspapers, souvenir tins and other mementoes.

The exhibition also revealed how the town has celebrated various royal events including the Silver Jubilee and numerous visits by members of the Royal Family to the Borough of Dartford, in the years since 1952.

These occasions were illustrated by photographs taken at the time and by programmes and objects produced especially for the event. There was also a rare chance to see Princess Anne's signature in the Dartford Borough Council VIP guest book.

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