Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire toilet roll competes for museums award

Toilet Roll from E E Russell Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption The toilet roll has been described as the Letchworth's oldest, and was manufactured in 1936 by Letchworth chemists, EE Russell

An 80-year-old toilet roll is in the running for being the most-loved object owned by a county's museum.

Eleven museums nominated an item to compete for the Hertfordshire Association of Museums Object of the Year award.

The roll, manufactured in 1936 by EE Russell, is on display at the Garden City Collection in Letchworth.

It is made of paper, and while it had not been analysed, it was considered "higher end" material.

Collections officer, Sophie Walter, said they were "not officially sure of the exact material" as it is still in its wrapping but it is "quite thin smooth and a beige colour".

"Our example was perhaps considered higher end, as there is no reference to being splinter-free on the labelling, which was often a selling point up until the 1930s," she said.

"We decided to nominate this quirky object as visitors were often amazed it had withstood the test of time, considering the throw-away culture that surrounds us."

Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption This peach coloured silk cocktail dress was handmade in the 1950s by Cresta Silks of Welwyn Garden City
Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption Hertfordshire Archives has nominated a book of hand-painted sketches of proposed landscape improvements compiled by landscape gardener Humphry Repton in 1800

As part of the annual awards ceremony, as well as giving prizes for being a Heritage Hero, accessibility, transformation and project of the year, the association asks museums to put forward an item that is important to the county's heritage to compete for the Object of the Year.

Museums development officer, Lucinda Rowe, said this award "highlights just a few of the many fascinating items you can find".

"Ranging from the quirky or the practical to the beautiful or bizarre, there really is something for everyone," she said.

At last year's inaugural awards, it was won by Charlie the Chimp from Watford Museum which got more than 65% of the public vote.

Image copyright Simon Jacobs
Image caption Last year's winner Charlie the Chimp from Watford Museum had swung in Gordon Scott's shoe shop in the town for about four decades

This year's nominations also include the Royston Tapestry at the Royston & District Museum and Art Gallery, and the Offley fire engine at the new North Hertfordshire Museum.

The Mill Green Mill and Museum nominated a 1950s cocktail dress made by Cresta Silks of Welwyn Garden City, and Verulamium Museum in St Albans has put forward the Roman shell mosaic discovered during the Wheeler excavations in 1930.

Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption The Doll family crest is the last relic from a long-demolished turreted gothic mansion named Hadham Towers, built in 1901 by Charles Fitzroy Doll
Image copyright Trustees of the Natural History Museum
Image caption This emperor penguin specimen was collected by British botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker during an 1839-43 Antarctic expedition led by James Clark Ross

The Red Book of Panshanger by Humphry Repton at the Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies centre, the Doll Crest at Much Hadham Forge Museum, the emperor penguin at the Natural History Museum at Tring, Martha Stapleton's Map Sampler at the British Schools Museum in Hitchin, Samurai Armour at Hertford Museum and the Stanhope Peep Pipe from the Dacorum Heritage Trust make up the other entries.

Voting closes on 31 October.

Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption Built in 1793, this fire engine from Offley last battled the flames in 1920
Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption Martha Stapleton completed this exquisite needlework sampler in 1852 while at the British Girls' School in Hitchin when she was 12 years old
Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption The Royston Tapestry is an 83ft (25.2m) long embroidery depicting scenes of local history, which took nearly 30 years to complete
Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption This suit of Samurai armour was donated to the museum by missionary and anthropologist John Batchelor in 1906
Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption The shell mosaic was discovered during the Wheeler excavations of Verulamium in 1930 and became the image most associated with the roman town
Image copyright Hertfordshire County Council
Image caption When held up to the light the Stanhope Peep Pipe reveals an image of St Mary’s Church in Hemel Hempstead

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