Museum Objects

Gas Masks

Rebecca Lopez from Newton Abbot College

These two authentic gas masks were donated to the museum by an unknown source and have been well kept since their time on the battle field. They were donated to the museum in a safety bag, with the year 1941 inside of it.
Gas masks were issued to all of the British public during both WW1 and WW2; this was because there was fear that attackers would drop poisonous gas bombs. A typical gas mask would cover the nose and mouth, although most also covered the eyes.

During the war, babies and small children had special gas masks made for them which would only be issued if an emergency arose. Children were given what became known as the ‘Mickey Mouse’ gas mask – the nickname was given as an attempt by the government to make the gas masks seem less scary.

The gas masks above are of two different designs; the gas mask on the right hand side has a visible air canister which works as a filter system (all gas masks had these), cleaning the contaminated air before the user inhales it. The gas mask on the left hand side is of a much simpler design but is of the same principle, having the filter system nearer the mouth area.
I have been working at the Museum from the 22nd October – 26th October 2012, and have been looking through various artefacts from both of the World Wars. I chose to write about these two gas masks because they were interesting to research and they were in excellent condition considering the amount of time they have been preserved.

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Aller Vale Art Pottery

A magnificent Aller Vale Art pottery commemorative cup and stand is displayed within the museum. The cup was made to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902.
Mr Frank Findlay started working at the Aller Vale pottery as a boy of 14, he went on to be the London agent for Aller Vale and for Wedgwood and Co. He donated his collection to the town in 1933. He had chosen a variety of pots which are of great interest to pottery collectors all over the wolrd. The pottery collection were originally displayed within wall mounted cabinets in the Library and were used as inspiration by art students!
More information on potteries dating from the 1800's to the present day, including the Aller Vale Potteries, can be found at the following web-site:

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African Spear

This short spear was found covered in rags at Sandford Orleigh School. It is believed to be a spear belonging to Sir Samuel Baker who lived in the house for many years with his wife.
Sir Samuel Baker was a famous explorer who discovered one of the sources of the River Nile. It is possible that he brought this spear back from Africa with him.
The spear is 131cm high and consists of: Striped wooden shaft and the metal spear head bound together. As well as the large spear head, it also has four metal barbs.
This item was donated to the museum after it was discovered at Sandford Orleigh and is dated to the Victorian Age.









This Commemorative medal is of a visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to St. Leonards Tower in 1899. These medals would have been handed out to the public on the occasion of the royal visit which was sure to have been a memorable and special occasion for Newton Abbot. The medals show the faces of the Duke and Duchess on one side and St. Leonards tower on the reverse.


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Silver Spoon

This elegant silver spoon was donated to the museum many years ago and is dated to 1901. The spoon commemorated the joining of the Urban District of Newton Abbot and the Highweek local board which was demonstrated by the coats of arms shown at the top of the spoon. Considering its age the spoon is in extremely good condition and very detailed.
Silver Spoon

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Five Pound Note 1841

This ‘Newton Bank Five Pound Note’ was printed on the 20th March 1841. The holes in the centre of the note marked that it was cancelled. Newton Bank was taken over by Capital and Countries Bank in 1891 which was then in turn taken over by Lloyds bank in 1918. This note is considerably larger than our modern day notes and seems to be for a specific person rather than to simply ‘the bearer.’ Notes in the 1800’s were seen more like a postal order or cheque than the notes which we use today.
Five Pound Note



This large silver commemorative bone handled trowel is engraved:
“Presented to the P F Sparke Evans on the occasion of his laying the memorial stone of the New Congreational Church, Newton Abbot. March 18th 1875”
The trowel was donated to the museum by the Elders of United Reform Church, Newton Abbot. The high level of detail on the engraving and the excellent condition in which it has been left make this an important artefact.
Silver Commemorative Trowel

Wedding Dress

This wedding dress was handmade in 1871 and was donated to the museum by Miss Muriel Brealey of Newton Abbot.
It is a three-piece taffeta costume, the bodice has set in sleeves. The cuffs on the sleeves are trimmed with ribbon and fringed braid, and have two buttons on each sleeve.
The skirt has sovereign pockets and is front opening with hook fastenings. There is also a large gathered bustle, oval and trimmed with tassled braid.

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Station Masters Hat

This hat belonged to the station master of Heathfield station. It is made of black felt with gold braid on the peak. The gentleman’s title of ‘Station Master’ is embroidered in gold lettering. The hat is stamped as British Rail and was made in 1960. The high detail of the embroidering on the uniform shows the importance of the railway and all staff. Uniforms were well made and of good quality.
Station masters Hat

Click on the link below to see more paintings from the Museum's collection shown on the BBC web-site:

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