A BIRTHDAY present of a small microscope given to a 12-year-old boy started a lifetime of fascination with historical artefacts.

Sid Woodhams, has since amassed a huge amount of memorabilia, which along with items collected by fellow social historian, John Stone, forms part of the Woodham-Stone Collection.

The pair are celebrating their 80th birthdays this week - John on March 18 and Sid the following day - with a special exhibition at the former Conservative Club in Malton.

The exhibition will showcase the depth and breadth of their collections, which focus on Malton and Norton and will include objects that have not been on public display before .

Sid, who was born in Wales, moved to Scarborough and then Ryedale in the late 1950s.

“My collection started with the microscope which was given as a birthday present,” he added.

“I was fascinated by it and saved my pocket money to buy a carbide cycle lamp from a junk shop which I cleaned up.”

Sid has since spent over six decades collecting objects relating to local businesses and trades, including items relating to the once familiar Russell’s Brewery and the Co-operative Society, and tools from trades such as joinery, coopering and butchery.

“I have a number of items from Bowers Butchers and one of my favourite items is a stained glass window from the Buckrose pub in Norton which is lovely.”

John, who is a former mayor of Norton, has collected hundreds of postcards and photographs of the local area. He has also built up a large paper-based archive, including public notices, advertisements and material relating to local businesses.

“I started collecting paper items because they are easier to store and now have around 2,000,” he added.

“The postcards and photographs show the streets and landmarks of Malton, Old Malton and Norton and surrounding villages, from around 1900 to the present day. I also have a large paper-based archive relating to local businesses, public notices, and advertisements for entertainment including dances, sporting events and concerts.”

Sid and John have known each other for over 40 years and in 2011 they agreed to gift their collections to the towns of Malton and Norton with the express wish that they should be displayed to the public in the towns where they originated.

Following the formation of the Woodhams-Stone Collection Trust support was secured from the DEFRA-led LEADER programme and Ryedale District Council to complete a collections assessment.

This led to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a two year project called ‘Two Collections, Two Towns’. The project included cataloguing the Collection, recording oral histories from the two collectors, recruiting volunteers and raising the profile of the Collection through small scale exhibitions and events.

In 2013, Sarah Maultby, was appointed as assessment and cataloguing officer and started work on the mammoth task of sorting through and listing the thousands of objects.

Sarah said: “This is a significant collection because it is so closely related to Malton and Norton and is very comprehensive.

“The latest exhibition will showcase the depth and breadth of their collections, and include objects that have not been on public display before and some old favourites.”

She added: “The two collections complement each other really well and we hope eventually to have a permanent place in which to display items which showcase the history of the two towns.

“Both Sid and John have spent a lifetime collecting these items and it is a fascinating insight into the social history of Malton and Norton.

The exhibition will be held at the from March 18 to 26. For more information go to www.woodhamsstonecollection. com