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Woodhams-Stone Collection gives a glimpse into Norton's past
VISITORS were treated to a glimpse into Norton’s past at a special exhibition in the town’s council chamber.
The Woodhams-Stone Collection held the exhibition in the building, focusing on the town and its rich heritage and giving visitors a rare opportunity to see inside the chamber as well.
Norton’s deputy mayor Coun Di Keal said it was a great success.
“We had more than 100 people attending and it went very, very well with some people staying for several hours,” she saidd.
“There were also some very positive comments about the future of the collection and the need to find a permanent home for it.”
The collection brings together a mass of memorabilia over a period of 50 plus years by John Stone and Sid Woodhams.
Most items held in the collection originate in the towns of Norton and Malton Both collectors have gifted their collections to the towns of Norton and Malton with the express wish that a base be found for them in the towns where most of the items they have collected originate.
The Woodhams-Stone Collection steering committee has been formed to take this project forward and is chaired by Coun Keal, and is supported by Ryedale District Council and the Rural Development Programme for England.
THE recent display of the Woodhams/Stone collection of local memorabilia, at Norton Town Council offices, was a sheer delight to visit, giving a glorious insight into the past of Malton and Norton.
If seeing and wondering at all the material on display wasn’t enough, the collectors - Sid Woodhams and John Stone - were on hand, offering wonderful anecdotal explanations of what was there.
Where to begin? Horse racing featured frequently. A 1785 publication, listing a meeting at Norton in October of that year, was on display, also an 1882 Racing Chronicle, featuring racing events across Europe (including Malton). From 1857 there was an edition of the Malton Messenger, and from 1895 a School Attendance Certificate, awarded to Florence Kitching, from Anne Bower Memorial Schools, Norton.
Moving on to the 20th century, there was a 1905 builder’s invoice to a local resident: it included “slates, paint, cement, sand and labour” – and totalled 10 pounds, six shillings and ninepence. Another invoice (1934), for one and a half tons of coal, came to two pounds, 14 shillings and ninepence. John Stone took the time to show and explain to me the (original) OBE certificate, signed by King George V in 1918 , issued to Harriet Estill, matron at Highfield House hospital, Norton.
There were photos of the Majestic cinema in Norton -and an ad for a (silent) film “If Winter Comes”. From 1934 came an advertisement for the first Malton Beauty Queen contest, staged by the Chamber of Trade at the Palace Cinema.
Pictures and postcards aplenty were on display, including streets in Malton and Norton with which we are familiar, but looking not quite as we know them today – some of the images were 100 years old. There was St Leonard’s church in 1907, after its “restoration”, and a press photo of the opening of the first “all-electric” home on Welham Road (1927).
How many pubs have we lost? The Rifleman’s Arms (Norton), Castlegate Vaults, Elephant and Castle (Greengate) and many more – but pictures remain.
From more recent times, we could see pictures and press articles about the Queen’s visit to this area in 1961 (and travel/traffic arrangements), for the wedding of the Duchess of Kent, and, almost right up-to-date, dramatic photos of flooding at the Malton/Norton boundary in 2009 – and later.
It was encouraging to hear from Coun Di Keal that plans are in hand to seek funding to enable this extraordinary collection to be housed publicly and made more available for public viewing.
Review by John Collins
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