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.
Chris and Barbara from The Friends of 78 Derngate were at Abington Park Museum, Northampton recently for their Collectors Day event. Chris's huge collection of Bassett-Lowke catalogues - [ surely one of the largest such collections in the world ] - was of great interest and attracted a steady stream of visitors.
The day was a great success, helped along by many Friends supporters who stopped by, the presence of a great model railway layout from a fellow collector and substantial amounts of chocolate which sadly ran out too soon.
Further images from the day - and the chance to let us know about your own collection - are on our Facebook.
A 27metre-long mural detailing the history and culture of Northampton and Northamptonshire has been installed at Northampton’s new railway station.
The mural shows a timeline of events from ancient times to the 21st century and includes a section devoted to the town’s Cultural Quarter. Photographs of 78 Derngate, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Mr and Mrs Bassett-Lowke feature alongside information about The Royal Theatre and Bassett-Lowke’s model engineering fame. Even more prominent will be Bassett-Lowke’s appearance on one of 10 new banners, each of which is dedicated to a figure who has helped shape the identity of the County of Northamptonshire. Mr Bassett-Lowke keeps company with, amongst others, Francis Crick, Sir Malcolm Arnold, Walter Tull, John Clare, Elizabeth Woodville and King John.
A group of Friends of 78 Derngate recently took a walking tour of houses designed by the talented architect Alexander Ellis Anderson in the Abington area of Northampton. Anderson did the preliminary architectural drawings for Mr Bassett-Lowke at 78 Derngate. The walk was led by our own Anderson expert Rob Kendall. For more information about becoming a Friend of 78 Derngate click here.
The Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed designed Guest Bedroom at 78 Derngate has an exciting new addition.
Following our recent appeal, and thanks to the generosity of The Friends of 78 Derngate, we've been able to commission Jake Kaner from Buckinghamshire New University in High Wycombe to make a replica of the washstand which originally stood in the corner of the room. The washstand is made of oak with a blue and black chequer decoration on the edges. The design matches the other furniture in the room and shows Mackintosh's use of the square in both a decorative and structural manner. The original washstand is on display at The Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow where a replica room setting of the Guest Bedroom has been created.
Jake has made all the replica Mackintosh furniture at 78 Derngate and has worked with us from the start of the restoration. We were delighted that he was able to create another piece of exceptional quality for the house. In Mr Bassett-Lowke’s time a Joseph Maria Olbrich - designed bowl stood on the washstand. Pictured on our new washstand is an identical bowl acquired at auction in Edinburgh last year.
Visitors to 78 Derngate are now able to view the new washstand on display.
We were delighted, in December, to receive a generous donation from Ruth I Johns who was the daughter of Gilbert Thomas; a lifelong friend of W.J Bassett-Lowke (patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and former owner of 78 Derngate). Mr Thomas, fittingly, had an amazing model railway layout featuring several Bassett-Lowke items. He was also the author of a book entitled "Paddington to Seagood – The Story of a Model Railway" in which his friend W.J is featured. Pictured here are Mr and Mrs Ellison who kindly travelled, on behalf of Ms Johns, from their Derbyshire home to present a Bassett-Lowke passenger coach, guards’ van, coal shed building and track / buffer section to us. These great items are now on display at 78 Derngate and available for free public viewing.