Almost there…

Work has been progressing nicely with the new workhouse displays. We are into the last stages of installation – where we begin putting objects in cases and finishing graphics. It is all coming together really nicely. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to see the new displays. We are especially pleased to be able to tell the real personal stories of people who lived and worked in the workhouse. Keep an eye out for these when you visit later in the year.

Workhouse Displays update

Fit out of the new Workhouse displays is progressing well. It looks like a building site at the moment (because that’s pretty much what it is!) but we’re starting to be able to see what the displays are really going to look like. There’s new glass walls, stages, plinths and label stands. There’s also a big hole in the floor (don’t worry it’s supposed to be there!)


Excitingly some of the graphic panels are being put up – we’ve been hard at work writing text and choosing images so it’s great to see some of them on the walls. What do you think?


We’re busy working on all of the audio visual elements of the new displays too. We’ve been writing scripts and finding the right people for the parts. Here’s a sneak peek of a new projection of photos from our collection.




Back to the ’50s

We know that our 1950s room is very popular with our visitors. Over the winter it has been given a makeover – but we hope that you’ll love it just as much or maybe even more!

The Fifties was a time of great change as Britain recovered from World War II. People wanted to enjoy a brighter, more comfortable lifestyle. More houses were built, rationing was lifted in 1954 and new technologies, like washing machines, were available. For the first time, lots of ordinary people were enjoying the benefits of electricity in their homes. We relied less on solid fuel for heating our homes and new cleaning products arrived in the shops: Tide, Surf and Daz were all launched in the 1950s. Household chores were much easier. People had more leisure time and enjoyed watching television, listening to records and reading magazines. Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 was the first major event to be broadcasted on television and rock ‘n’ roll was the big hit in music.

Katie, Learning Officer and Lauren, Assistant Curator have given our much loved 1950s room a makeover. It’s a space where you can explore, play and sit. This room now also gets used with our school groups to explore life within living memory. New wallpaper, some different furniture and objects have really brighten the space.



Behind the scenes in the workhouse displays

The Main Hall and Workhouse Displays are currently closed to visitors. But they are closed to staff too! We have formally signed over the spaces to our fit-out contractors Elmwood. They are installing walls, cases, graphic panels… it’s a big job in lots of galleries! Today we had a sneaky peak and took some photos for you to see.

Bringing the washing machines back to life!

Our engineering volunteers have been busy over the past few months. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse has been awarded funding by the Arts Council England PRISM fund to restore two washing machines in the laundry. This has paid for cleaning materials, new belts and bespoke parts to be made.


The washing machines in the laundry date from 1950 and 1953 and are amongst the first automatic washing machines in Europe. Automatic washing machines are now the norm, but in the 1950s this was revolutionary technology that overhauled institutional and domestic laundry practices.


The washing machines clearly demonstrate this revolutionary technology by having a clock face on the front of the machine with hands which would turn to the different cycles in the wash; 1st wash, 2nd wash, boil, 1st rinse, 2nd rinse, 3rd rinse, breakdown. Using a boil wash was normal then but now we are encouraged to wash at 15°C.

These washing machines had not been used since the building was a County Care Home, which closed in 1975. Our engineering volunteers have done a brilliant job carefully restoring them and getting them working. So when the new workhouse displays open this summer keep your eyes peeled for the cleaned up machines and join us on an event day to see them running.



Lots of progress on the ‘Voices’ Project

We have had lots of action this week at Gressenhall with many of the new displays for the temporary  summer exhibition now up and running. We will be doing some visitor testing over the summer, so do come along and tell us what you think! We have some fun activities, some nasty smells and a ghostly porter, who has already made us all jump!. Last but not least we have a lovely relaxing bed, (workhouse style!) for you to lay down and listen to the voices of the restless inmates……WI 001

Christopher Highs cottage

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We have just had some building work done, so now we can see Christopher High’s cottage taking shape. It will be a replica of a cottage dating from 1864 and will give our visitors an idea of the living conditions of the time. In this size space, the rural labourer was attempting to bring up his seven children after the death of his wife.

Summer is here…

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Our talented gardeners have been working really hard and the lovely cottage garden is looking beautiful at the moment. There is also a colourful display of poppies in the far end field of the farm too. Well worth a visit….