The Flintham Museum

Weather watching at Flintham
with an Awards for All grant

In March 2006 the Flintham Society was awarded a lottery grant of £4,207 from Awards for All to undertake a project about the weather - past, present and future. The Flintham Society is an educational charity which, as part of its charitable remit, owns and runs a museum. The museum collection looks at rural life through the eyes of a village shopkeeper. Weather watching was important in the days before fridges and freezers. Shopkeepers often kept notes so that they could spot patterns and adjust their ordering of perishable foods accordingly.

Fred White and his daughter, Muriel, owned the Flintham village shop, Nottinghamshire, from 1911-1982. They jotted down their assessment of the day's weather from the day they opened until the 1970s, a run of 60 years. Their weather notes were kept in pocket-sized books along with the day's takings. Sometimes, they also added snippets of information about people and activities in the village.

The museum opened in 1999 and it quickly became clear that most visitors were unaware of the connection between weather and retailing. So, the weather comments were interpreted in an interactive display. Visitors open flaps to see what the weather was like at Flintham on the day of their visit over six decades. Although the idea is very simple and it only takes a few seconds to see the day's weather, the display generates plenty of discussion. Visitors talk about the impact of global warming, memories of eating foods in season rather than all year round, and the damage caused by air miles. It is these reactions which members of the museum managing group have decided to develop.

Food, Shopping and the Weather

The Awards for All grant is being used in three ways to encourage more people, of all ages, to think more widely about the relationship between food, shopping and the weather. Research is ongoing, ready to publish a booklet which considers the history of weather and shopping and will encourage visitors to think about ways of reducing global warming. Secondly, all Fred and Muriel's comments about the weather will be copied on to a database which the village primary school children will be able to use in various ways.

Weather and Postcard Workshop

The third activity took place at the end of July 2006. Robert Frith and Annick Collins, designers, worked with a group of children aged 7-11. Over two days, the group talked about different types of weather during a year and then interpreted their thoughts in a number of imaginative ways. This included collecting leaves, feathers, flowers and interesting objects from the area around the museum building and drawing them on to postcards. Robert is arranging the postcards to make a picture which will be made into a postcard in its own right.

At the end of the second day the children and museum volunteers made two sound postcards which are archived in the museum. After some practicising, and a lot of laughing, the children described the day's weather using a number of sounds. They whistled to indicate the birds and sunshine at the beginning of the day. Then they made whooshing noises because the weather had turned windy. Finally they hammered their fingers on to tables to make the sound of the heavy rain which had wet them through that afternoon! On the second sound postcard they recorded their names.

To see photographs of the weather workshops visit the website of designer Robert Frith

To see details of the weather on 14 February

To see details of the weather on Good Friday

To see details of the weather on May Day

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Page updated 16-Oct-2013