The Erewash Museum aims to reflect the lives of the people who have lived and worked in the Erewash area throughout history by developing, caring for, and providing access to its 10,000 plus strong collections. Created in 1974 the borough was made up of all those towns and villages previously under the three authorities, the Borough of Ilkeston, the Urban District of Long Eaton and parts of the rural District of South East Derbyshire. Geographically the Erewash Museum now represents a wide variety of areas stretching from Trent Lock and Wilne in the south to Little Eaton in the north west. Safeguarding and celebrating the richness in diversity of all the areas we serve has been the main focus for the Museum since its conception in the early 1980s.
The main Museum is housed in the magnificent Grade II listed Dalby House which is a Georgian town house with Victorian extensions. The house already had a rich and colourful history when it was purchased in 1980 by Erewash Borough Council. Its location in the town of Ilkeston is high on the western slopes of the Erewash Valley affording magnificent views to the east across the valley and making it one of the best houses in the town.
The creation of the Museum was a joint project which included many local historical societies, members of the council, civic societies, and a lot of popular support from local people. A major contribution came from the people who later formed the Friends of the Erewash Museum, established in 1981, who continue to support and assist the Museum. The Erewash Museum was officially opened by Colonel P. Hilton, Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1982, and has developed since into a community service providing free events and activities which coincide with a varied range of temporary and permanent exhibitions.
Initially, the core of the founding collection was compiled by the late Cyril Hargreaves (1915–1981), who was Ilkeston Librarian from 1952 until 1974, and contained numerous local history artefacts. The Collection developed with donations from historical organisations such as Ilkeston & District Local History Society, Long Eaton Art Society, Ilkeston Arts and Photographic clubs and the Ilkeston Civic Society. A number of paintings by members of the Ilkeston Art Club are included in the Collection. Other artists local to the area are well represented including Norman R. Whitehead and John Lally who donated not only his own work but that of other local artists of renown. There is a small collection of portraits of local councillors and politicians from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century.
Within the Collection is the important Howitt Bequest, one of the largest bequests made to the people of the Erewash Borough. The bequest includes both oil paintings and watercolours dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Howitts were an important family in the history of Long Eaton and Charles Sydney Howitt left his collection to the Long Eaton District Urban Council in 1918 to commemorate the family’s ties with the town. The Council took possession of the Collection in 1921 and it was first displayed in the Hall, Long Eaton which is now the Town Hall. The paintings range from rural views to portraits and are displayed throughout the Town Hall – viewing can be arranged through the Erewash Museum
Sally Hawley, Collections Officer
Text source: PCF / Erewash Borough Council
This description was originally written for a catalogue.