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Mr Monkey visits Fleetwood Museum

Trip date : 19th September, 2012
"There's more here than I expected, you know"

Mr Monkey scampered along Queens Terrace until he came to the Fleetwood Museum. He waited patiently while his humans bought Xplorer multi-pass tickets to get a year's free entry to all Lancaster council museums, then started finding out about the history of Fleetwood.

Mr Monkey outside the Fleetwood Museum Mr Monkey in the boarding house parlour

The museum is housed in the Custom House, built by Decimus Burton in 1836 and one of Fleetwood's oldest buildings. After being a private house for a while, the Custom House became the Town Hall when Fleetwood became a borough in 1933. The glass installed then makes the first display that Mr Monkey looked at - a recreation of the parlour of a Victorian boarding house - slightly more ornate than the average boarding house. Very few boarding houses have the Borough coat of arms in stained glass.

Mr Monkey examining a model of Fleetwood Docks Mr Monkey looking at a cabinet about deep sea fishing

The next gallery Mr Monkey looked at dealt with the expansion and decline of Fleetwood docks. Mr Monkey was really taken with a magnificent model showing the full extent of the docks at their height with miles of railway track serving a vast wharfage. Deep sea fishing was an important industry in Fleetwood, so the museum has a extensive display about it. Mr Monkey examined maps and models of trawlers, and learned how many people and how much equipment is needed to bring a trawler load of fish to shore. He also found out that some fishermen spent their non-working time painting nautical scenes on tobacco tins.

Mr Monkey looking at fishing company funnel colour schemes on the main stairs Mr Monkey looking at the symbol of the Fleetwood branch of the Royal Naval Patrol Service

On the way upstairs, Mr Monkey examined the colour schemes of the funnels of the many fishing and shipping companies that once sailed in and out of Fleetwood docks. Upstairs, Mr Monkey found out about the in-shore fisheries of Morecambe Bay, so he knows where to look for different sorts of shrimp, and what odd implements to hunt them with.

Another gallery showed Mr Monkey the history of Fleetwood and how it was founded in the early nineteenth century by Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood as a completely new town, with a wide collection of historical artefacts. He also learned about the local trawlers that served with the Royal Naval Patrol Service on mine-sweeping and anti-submarine operations during the 1939-45 war.

Mr Monkey looking at the service record of the Fleetwood lifeboat Mr Monkey looking at the Fleetwood Grammar School Stained Glass Memorial Window

Mr Monkey was fascinated by the gallery about the the lifeboats based in Fleetwood over the years, and was impressed by the panels listing the rescues the different boats had been involved in. A final gallery taught Mr Monkey all about salt mining in the area. He was intrigued to find out that some lakes on the other side of the river had been caused by salt-mining related subsidence, and decided he'd go and have a look at them one day.

Mr Monkey scampered down the back stairs and let his humans eat in the rather nice cafe. While they had crumpets covered in toasted cheese, he examined a stained glass window that was fixed to the cafe wall. Made in 1964 as a memorial to the 25 former pupils of Fleetwood Grammar School who died in the 1939-45 war, it was saved when the school closed.

And then Mr Monkey left the excellent museum and caught a tram back to Blackpool.

You can read about the museum at the Fleetwood Museum (Lancashire County Council website), and about the very useful Xplorer tickets at Xplorer tickets (Lancashire County Council website).

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Copyright Rik Shepherd and Mr Monkey.