Meet Tortoise! This black painted cast iron novelty bell was acquired by W. J. Bassett-Lowke it is thought sometime before 1926; the year that the Bassett-Lowkes moved to ‘New Ways’.
Similar cast iron table or desk bells of German manufacture were being made around the turn of the twentieth century.
At New Ways, Tortoise lived on a small table in the entrance hall. In the days when people did not lock their front doors during the day visitors would announce their arrival by depressing the head or tail to make the bell ring. This would alert the maid or housekeeper Mrs Cauldwell. It is reported that Tortoise was a delight to all young visitors who were sometimes given to repeated ringings. The patience of the adults was saved by the run down of the clockwork mechanism bringing temporary silence until rewinding.
See Tortoise on display at 78 Derngate during the month of August.
Visitors to 78 Derngate this month can view rarely seen items from our archive collection. On display in our museum space are The Bassett-Lowke Ltd company seal, shares register, minutes book and two share certificates.
The seal was introduced at the first directors meeting of Bassett-Lowke Ltd which was incorporated on 11th March 1910.
For a small donation, blank red seals can be stamped for visitors - a chance to own a little piece of Bassett-Lowke history!
Tuesday 21st March 2017 was the 100th anniversary of the marriage of Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke and Florence Jane Jones at Abington Avenue Congregrational Church. On that Spring day In 1917, after a four day honeymoon in Bournemouth, they returned to begin their married life at 78 Derngate, Northampton.
Exactly 100 years later the doors were thrown open at 78 Derngate to welcome Friends, supporters and visitors from all quarters in celebration of the historic anniversary. We were delighted to offer celebratory drinks, wedding cake, shop discounts and the opportunity to view our Centenary Exhibition, “Charles Rennie Mackintosh & The Great War”. Film footage of the 1917 wedding was rolling and many visitors posed on the famous doorstep of no 78 for commemorative photos which are now included in our special Centenary Day Album.