Tuesday 27th June – 25th meeting of 2017
Weather had completely change this week. It was raining so although warm, rainmacs and umbrellas we certainly needed. We met at Charing Cross and then took two tubes, Northern line to Warren Street and Victoria line to Walthamstow Central. Using the Northern makes you realise how low the tunnels go on this line and on Victoria line how fast the trains travel!
Outside Walthamstow Central was a very busy area with a bus garage and the station had three exits so we found it hard to find the street, St Mary Street, that we needed for the walk to get to the Museum. Once we found the correct street we went for a coffee in the McDonalds before the short walk to reach the Museum for our booked tour at 12 o’clock.
At the Vestry House Museum we were greeted by our guide. It is not open to public on Tuesday so it was good that one of our ladies had arranged for a tour after seeing it on one of the antique programmes. Opening days Wednesday – Sunday and entry is free.
The Museum is a history museum in Walthamstow and focuses on the heritage of the local area. It was originally built as a workhouse, later became a police station and also private housing and became a museum in 1931.
Our guide was brilliant. He gave us a clear talk on the House and really made it interesting. He showed us some exhibits such as wooden soled shoes and oakum which the people in the workhouse worked and received pay for. It was made into rope or used to waterproof ships. The life was hard but it seems it was not a cruel workhouse.
Once established as a Museum many local people donated items and on display are Victorian parlour complete with wonderful fireplace, a costume gallery which houses two wedding dresses one from early 1800’s which is brown velvet with lots of material and decoration and one from 1940’s which is hugging the figure and was wore three or four times by different brides on their wedding day. There is a police cell with iron door with sliding peep-hole and a very small barred window. This must have been a grim horrible place to be locked up in.
The most amazing item I believe was the famous Bremer car which was the first petrol car in Britain. It has been lovingly restored to its original state and looks magnificent. It took part in the 1965 London to Brighton race but unfortunately now is not in working order.
There was a wonderful display of toys dating back to the time that there were two thriving toy factories in Walthamstow.
We went out into the beautiful volunteer-run garden which is an oasis in which to relax and enjoy the wonderful plants which are grown.
Our tour finished after just over an hour and we all really enjoyed our time. The guide was fabulous and this Museum is an absolute delight! A real gem of a small but very interesting local museum.