Tag Archive: Natural History

  1. Gallery Talks Series

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    Our free talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards, some are onsite and others are online. Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All onsite talks are drop in, no need to book. Please ensure that you reserve your place on our online talks.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm
    Join us for a shared online presentation by Gallery
    Oldham staff and the Oldham Rugby League Heritage
    Trust about our extensive rugby league collections.

    Wednesday 10 November 2021, 2pm
    Volunteer Amber Queally and our art curator Rebecca Hill give an onsite tour of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 15 December 2021, 2pm
    The National Gallery’s Associate Curator Laura Llewellyn leads an online presentation about Degas’s Hélène Roaurt in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2pm
    It’s time to get ready for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. So come and take a close onsite look at Oldham’s birds newly displayed in our Oldham Stories Gallery with our natural history curator Patricia Francis.

    Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm
    Join an online tour of the Legacies of Biafra exhibition with artist Hassan Aliyu.

    Wednesday 16 March 2022, 2pm

    Join artists Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom onsite and take a closer look at their work displayed in Landscapes Inside Out.

    Wednesday 6 April 2022, 2pm
    Join our natural history curator Patricia Francis onsite to hear more about seabirds and why they feature in Oldham Stories.

  2. Gallery Talks Series

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series

    Our free talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards, some are onsite and others are online. Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All onsite talks are drop in, no need to book. Please ensure that you reserve your place on our online talks.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm
    Join us for a shared online presentation by Gallery
    Oldham staff and the Oldham Rugby League Heritage
    Trust about our extensive rugby league collections.

    Wednesday 10 November 2021, 2pm
    Volunteer Amber Queally and our art curator Rebecca Hill give an onsite tour of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 15 December 2021, 2pm
    The National Gallery’s Associate Curator Laura Llewellyn leads an online presentation about Degas’s Hélène Roaurt in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2pm
    It’s time to get ready for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. So come and take a close onsite look at Oldham’s birds newly displayed in our Oldham Stories Gallery with our natural history curator Patricia Francis.

    Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm
    Join an online tour of the Legacies of Biafra exhibition with artist Hassan Aliyu.

    Wednesday 16 March 2022, 2pm

    Join artists Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom onsite and take a closer look at their work displayed in Landscapes Inside Out.

    Wednesday 6 April 2022, 2pm
    Join our natural history curator Patricia Francis onsite to hear more about seabirds and why they feature in Oldham Stories.

  3. Gallery Talks Series

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series

    Our free talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards, some are onsite and others are online. Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All onsite talks are drop in, no need to book. Please ensure that you reserve your place on our online talks.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm
    Join us for a shared online presentation by Gallery
    Oldham staff and the Oldham Rugby League Heritage
    Trust about our extensive rugby league collections.

    Wednesday 10 November 2021, 2pm
    Volunteer Amber Queally and our art curator Rebecca Hill give an onsite tour of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 15 December 2021, 2pm
    The National Gallery’s Associate Curator Laura Llewellyn leads an online presentation about Degas’s Hélène Roaurt in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2pm
    It’s time to get ready for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. So come and take a close onsite look at Oldham’s birds newly displayed in our Oldham Stories Gallery with our natural history curator Patricia Francis.

    Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm
    Join an online tour of the Legacies of Biafra exhibition with artist Hassan Aliyu.

    Wednesday 16 March 2022, 2pm

    Join artists Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom onsite and take a closer look at their work displayed in Landscapes Inside Out.

    Wednesday 6 April 2022, 2pm
    Join our natural history curator Patricia Francis onsite to hear more about seabirds and why they feature in Oldham Stories.

  4. Gallery Talks Series

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series

    Our free talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards, some are onsite and others are online. Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All onsite talks are drop in, no need to book. Please ensure that you reserve your place on our online talks.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm
    Join us for a shared online presentation by Gallery
    Oldham staff and the Oldham Rugby League Heritage
    Trust about our extensive rugby league collections.

    Wednesday 10 November 2021, 2pm
    Volunteer Amber Queally and our art curator Rebecca Hill give an onsite tour of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 15 December 2021, 2pm
    The National Gallery’s Associate Curator Laura Llewellyn leads an online presentation about Degas’s Hélène Roaurt in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2pm
    It’s time to get ready for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. So come and take a close onsite look at Oldham’s birds newly displayed in our Oldham Stories Gallery with our natural history curator Patricia Francis.

    Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm
    Join an online tour of the Legacies of Biafra exhibition with artist Hassan Aliyu.

    Wednesday 16 March 2022, 2pm

    Join artists Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom onsite and take a closer look at their work displayed in Landscapes Inside Out.

    Wednesday 6 April 2022, 2pm
    Join our natural history curator Patricia Francis onsite to hear more about seabirds and why they feature in Oldham Stories.

  5. Gallery Talks Series

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series

    Our free talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards, some are onsite and others are online. Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All onsite talks are drop in, no need to book. Please ensure that you reserve your place on our online talks.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm
    Join us for a shared online presentation by Gallery
    Oldham staff and the Oldham Rugby League Heritage
    Trust about our extensive rugby league collections.

    Wednesday 10 November 2021, 2pm
    Volunteer Amber Queally and our art curator Rebecca Hill give an onsite tour of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 15 December 2021, 2pm
    The National Gallery’s Associate Curator Laura Llewellyn leads an online presentation about Degas’s Hélène Roaurt in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2pm
    It’s time to get ready for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. So come and take a close onsite look at Oldham’s birds newly displayed in our Oldham Stories Gallery with our natural history curator Patricia Francis.

    Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm
    Join an online tour of the Legacies of Biafra exhibition with artist Hassan Aliyu.

    Wednesday 16 March 2022, 2pm

    Join artists Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom onsite and take a closer look at their work displayed in Landscapes Inside Out.

    Wednesday 6 April 2022, 2pm
    Join our natural history curator Patricia Francis onsite to hear more about seabirds and why they feature in Oldham Stories.

  6. Gallery Talks Series

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series

    Our free talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards, some are onsite and others are online. Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All onsite talks are drop in, no need to book. Please ensure that you reserve your place on our online talks.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm
    Join us for a shared online presentation by Gallery
    Oldham staff and the Oldham Rugby League Heritage
    Trust about our extensive rugby league collections.

    Wednesday 10 November 2021, 2pm
    Volunteer Amber Queally and our art curator Rebecca Hill give an onsite tour of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 15 December 2021, 2pm
    The National Gallery’s Associate Curator Laura Llewellyn leads an online presentation about Degas’s Hélène Roaurt in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2pm
    It’s time to get ready for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. So come and take a close onsite look at Oldham’s birds newly displayed in our Oldham Stories Gallery with our natural history curator Patricia Francis.

    Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm
    Join an online tour of the Legacies of Biafra exhibition with artist Hassan Aliyu.

    Wednesday 16 March 2022, 2pm

    Join artists Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom onsite and take a closer look at their work displayed in Landscapes Inside Out.

    Wednesday 6 April 2022, 2pm
    Join our natural history curator Patricia Francis onsite to hear more about seabirds and why they feature in Oldham Stories.

  7. Gallery Talks Series

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series

    Our free talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards, some are onsite and others are online. Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All onsite talks are drop in, no need to book. Please ensure that you reserve your place on our online talks.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm
    Join us for a shared online presentation by Gallery
    Oldham staff and the Oldham Rugby League Heritage
    Trust about our extensive rugby league collections.

    Wednesday 10 November 2021, 2pm
    Volunteer Amber Queally and our art curator Rebecca Hill give an onsite tour of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 15 December 2021, 2pm
    The National Gallery’s Associate Curator Laura Llewellyn leads an online presentation about Degas’s Hélène Roaurt in her Father’s Study.

    Wednesday 12 January 2022, 2pm
    It’s time to get ready for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. So come and take a close onsite look at Oldham’s birds newly displayed in our Oldham Stories Gallery with our natural history curator Patricia Francis.

    Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm
    Join an online tour of the Legacies of Biafra exhibition with artist Hassan Aliyu.

    Wednesday 16 March 2022, 2pm

    Join artists Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom onsite and take a closer look at their work displayed in Landscapes Inside Out.

    Wednesday 6 April 2022, 2pm
    Join our natural history curator Patricia Francis onsite to hear more about seabirds and why they feature in Oldham Stories.

  8. Gathering Moss

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    The natural history collection at Gallery Oldham is much more than a store of objects; it’s an ongoing process. Over the years, many of the specimens were donated to the museum by local collectors, amateurs, enthusiasts, and local societies. Behind the scenes, the natural history curator and volunteers, often with a specialist understanding of the subject, sift through specimens and help to catalogue them.

    At the beginning of the project with Gallery Oldham, I asked for a list of local sites to visit, which would have been popular in the 18th century for collecting moss. The idea was to re-collect moss specimens from these sites and then send these for formal identification by the ‘vice-county recorder’, an expert Bryologist who remit is to cover the whole of South Lancashire. These will then be sent back to the museum to be catalogued and become part of the museum’s collection for posterity. I also asked to look at the moss specimens collected from these historic sites. It was a delight to explore a large box full of folded paper envelopes, each covered in elaborate handwriting. Some of these were over 150 years old. These specimens are from the James Nield collection. Nield was the owner of a printing business in Oldham, but he was also an avid geologist and botanist in his spare time. His plant and geological collection were donated to Oldham Museum via the Oldham Microscopical and Natural History Society while his microscope slides and microscope were donated to the museum by his great great granddaughter, Sue Willington [who also volunteers behind the scenes helping to catalogue the specimens]. 

    [Image 1: Glass Lantern Slide of James Nield sat in the Fossil Forest at Oldham Edge 1879]

    Click this Oldham Times article for more information.

    When these mosses were collected, they were placed into a folded paper envelope, sometimes made from old newspapers, with beautifully handwritten notes as to the date, location and species. These were taken home and dried before being stored. Amazingly some of the specimens are from 1874 but moss is still collected in this way today.

    For identification, bryologists sometimes rehydrate small pieces of moss for examination; this brings back some of the plant’s original vitality, making its structures and detail clearer. The sample is then dried out again and returned to the original envelope in a smaller paper wrap (see the yellow paper triangle in image 8), inside which you can find the minute fragment of moss that was investigated. I ended up adding a couple of my own triangular wraps to the collection. I like to think someone might stumble across these in 150 years’ time. This inspired me to make some time-lapse films of the rehydration process, and I have been amazed to see the results. This is still a work in progress, and I have also recorded the microscopic sound of the moss hydrating. Here is the work in progress without sound. 

    On my initial trips to collect moss, I struggled to find a wide variety of mosses. So to improve my skills, I met up with bryologist Anthony Gregory [the vice-county recorder] for a riverside walk to get a crash course in bryology.

    We met at Greenfield train station and made our way to a footpath alongside the River Tame. We walked slowly, stopping regularly at trees and venturing down to the waterside. It took us over 2 hours to get just 100 meters, identifying 14 different types of moss. I enjoyed listening to Anthony as he talked me through the different bryophytes and how to identify them. Some of the moss we found was considered extinct in the 1800s, due to the high levels of air pollution around the Oldham area [As mentioned in the last post https://galleryoldham.org.uk/biocrusts-and-blanket-bogs/]. However, as the air quality has improved in more recent times, these species have now become abundant. 

    Here is an extract from our conversation: 

    I repeated the same walks several times. On my most recent hike, I collected 25 different kinds of moss, only a handful of which I could guess the identification. I’m not sure any of these matched those already in the collection and need to return with the samples I collected to make a proper comparison. I have developed a series of local moss trails based on my explorations designed to take you through different environments, woodland, canal paths, grassland and riverbanks. See the moss trails here: https://galleryoldham.org.uk/moss-trails-with-anthony-hall/

    Over the following months, I will be releasing new works based on my experience and organising a guided walk and talking about the project. If you are interested in finding out more, contact me at info@antonyhall.net or check this webpage for a summary of the project.

  9. A Poem and Plant Specimens

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    Whilst exploring our collections, Patricia our natural history curator, came across this poem by the Saddleworth poet Ammon Wrigley (1861-1946)

    “Flowers in an Oldham Alehouse”

    You four flowers, did you grow

    Where the winds of Devon blow?

    Only Devon’s earth and air

    Can have fashioned you so fair!

    The poet said, and true it be,

    “God alone can make a tree”;

    And I’m sure it’s just as true

    God alone one morn made you,

    And from heaven when you came,

    Devon folk gave you a name,

    But no mortal e’er can guess

    All that makes your loveliness.

    Did you come to this drab room

    From the fields near Ilfracombe,

    Or from some dew shining down

    Not a mile from Teignmouth town?

    All that’s Devon in you lies,

    Lovely scenes and sunny skies,

    Tors and glens and headlands free

    Striding out into the sea;

    Lynton’s rocks and Tavy’s stream,

    Cider barns and pots of cream,

    Cobbled streets and quaint old inns,

    Fisher folk with sea-tanned skins.

    Ploughmen from the upland farms,

    Freckled maids with sun-browned arms,

    All that is or o’er will be,

    From the moorlands to the sea.

    Oh, the happy days you had,

    When the sunny fields were glad,

    And the white winged butterflies

    Came to look in your sweet eyes,

    And the bees oft kissed your lips

    For the joy of honey sips,

    And the thrush from blossomed thorn

    Woke you in the early morn,

    And the lark high in the blue

    Often sang all day to you,

    And you heard the orchard breeze

    Shaking laughter from the trees.

    Now you’re here in Oldham town,

    Houses black and dirty brown,

    And you hear the roaring street,

    Crash of cars and tramp of feet;

    To this room you brought a whiff

    Of the heather from the cliff,

    Now your beauty’s spent and spoiled,

    Every leaf and petal soiled,

    And you hear from unclean lips

    Slang and oath and racing tips.

    Mauled by noisy drinking folk,

    Poisoned by the “bacco” smoke,

    Dying in an Oldham inn

    ’Mid the rabble and the din.

    Better you had lived and died

    On a Devon countryside,

    For to-morrow you’ll be thrown

    On a tip with rag and bone.

    Ammon Wrigley by Harry Rutherford 1938

    Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out a date when this poem was written and of course, all this might be written under artistic licence and result from the imagination of Ammon Wrigley and there may be no truths written here at all.

    However I think it is interesting that there are some quite specific details given in the verse.

    The poem first questions whether the flowers come from Devon, perhaps the poet thought they looked too pretty to have been found around Oldham? Then the poem contains 4 Devon place-names which extend right across the county, from Ilfracombe and Lynton in the north to Teignmouth in the south and the River Tavy which extends from Dartmoor to the south coast.

    He says there are 4 flowers. He doesn’t describe the form of the specimens but gives enough information to describe their faded beauty. It is unlikely that they were on display in water in a container as the travel from Devon to Oldham would have taken many hours even using the train. They could have been collected several days before the collector departed for home so I imagine these were pressed specimens possibly pressed immediately on finding in a portable field press, so would retain some colour.

    We know many Botanical Societies often met in pubs. So, did Ammon witness one of these meetings in Saddleworth or Oldham pub and then recollect it in his poem? If he did no doubt these were not the only flowers were spread around the tables. They were probably with other pressed/fresh specimen treasures being ‘mauled’ by botanists of the time.

    So who was it who might have taken them to that smoky pub? We know that botanists of this era were happy to walk many miles to get to a society meeting or field meeting, there was no other option for most. So the collector could be one of many botanists in a radius of several miles, even someone from another nearby town.

    Oldham Botanists

    Looking at the specimens in the herbarium at Gallery Oldham there are three Oldhamers who may be possible candidates who all collected in Devon and who were all members of the Oldham Microscopical and Natural History Society.

    Squire Ashton (1826-1897) in July 1877 collected specimens at Torquay and Plymouth on the coast and Bickleigh (inland), all in South Devon – there are 11 species from these places in the herbarium – Ammon Wrigley would have been 16 in 1877. Ashton’s specimens tell us that he also visited Cornwall on this same trip taking in the popular sites of Loe Pool and the Lizard and collecting 74 specimens.

    John Waddington (c.1834 -1913) in January 1904 and March 1908 collected specimens at Newton Abbot, South Devon. His collection in the herbarium is of bryophytes and seaweeds and one fern, so not specimens with flowers – Ammon would have been 43 in 1904.

    John R. Byrom (1841-1910) collected at Berry Pomeroy, Torquay and Plymouth, South Devon – 2 species Bramble and Beech can be found in the herbarium – there are no dates on Byrom’s specimens but again not much in the way of what we consider to be ‘flowers’.

    Based on the evidence the most likely candidate would be Squire Ashton. He started working as a flagger and slater alongside his father but eventually he would become the owner of a successful building company in Oldham. As the cotton industry expanded in Oldham hundreds of houses were needed to accommodate a growing work force and their families so building would have been a most profitable enterprise.

    Squire Ashton’s herbarium sheet – Broomrape/Orobanche caryophllacea – July 1877 – Torquay, South Devon

    Squire Ashton’s collection in total consists of some 600 specimens from all parts of the UK. The Devon and Cornwall trip resulted in about 85 specimens. Why there were only 4 species mentioned in the poem?

    Hopefully the plants did not end up on the tip as Ammon Wrigley speculated but were mounted on paper and were eventually put into the herbarium of the Oldham Microscopical and Natural History Society which was transferred in 1995 to Oldham Museum now known as Gallery Oldham where the Squire Ashton collection remains today.


    Discover more about our natural history collections by visiting our collections webpage.

  10. Moss Terrariums and Bottle Gardens

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    This is one of a series of blogs written by Anthony Hall who beginning a three-month project to explore the secret life of historical moss specimens in our natural history collection in April 2021. This week he shows us how to create our very own bottle garden or ‘terrarium.’

    Terrariums are kind of indoor garden housed inside a glass case, sometimes completely sealed,  with a naturalistic arrangement of small plants, ferns and mosses. These miniature worlds can be beautiful and calming objects to look at and create. They are also scientifically interesting.

    In recent times terrariums have become popular and they can be expensive. However, it is simple to create your own. Terrariums are self-contained ecosystems, which are powered by sunlight. The plants photosynthesise, releasing oxygen and water. The water is released into the air as gas which condenses on the sides of the tank. The water then trickles down into the soil. Bacteria in the soil break down the oxygen and creates carbon dioxide, which the plant can use. And so, the cycle continues.

    Here are some ideas for experiments with making your own self-sufficient world in a jam-jar with moss found in your garden or street.

    You can find out more about Anthony’s project from his website and discover moss trails around Oldham in our latest blog.

  11. Snipe Clough: Moss Trail 1

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    Snipe Clough is a fantastic green site in the middle of Oldham with a range of open meadows, grasslands, woodland and boggy areas where moss can be found. Lookout for liverworts and moss growing on the damp branches under the tree cover and between the grasses in the boggy areas.

    There is a pond that is teeming with life, where you might be lucky enough to see large Dragonflies or Saw Flies, pond skaters and water boatmen under the surface. Also, look out for the mysterious concrete and brick vent structures; note the moss growing on these. See what insects you can find on these concrete structures. I found red spider mites, jumping spiders, and sunbathing Sawflies. The walk extends into densely wooded areas and a viewpoint overlooking Park Bridge. You will notice more mosses under the trees beside the trail and on soil banks.

    This trail is approximately 4 kilometres and take around 1 hour.

    Routplotter.com   https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1618426

    More information on Snipe clough can be found here: https://northern-roots.uk/ 

    More information on Park Bridge here: https://www.tameside.gov.uk/parkbridge  (which can also be a starting point for this walk).

    For more walks in search for moss, go back to the main page and see trails for Daisy Nook Country Park and Park Bridge.

  12. Park Bridge: Moss Trail 2

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    River at Park Bridge.

    Starting at the car park at Park Bridge Heritage Centre, this walk takes you into the woods, and to a viewpoint overlooking the Medlock Valley, there are exciting mosses throughout the woods under the trees and on the soil banks.

    The trail then heads down into the valley again to follow the riverbank before heading along a road towards park bridge and up a hill. Eventually, you reach a moss-covered Stone bridge. Here you can follow the trail past a picnic spot beside rocky outcrops and ruins. Then at the broken bridge, follow a narrow trail alongside the Medlock take note of the moss is growing underneath the trees and on the rocks. You may even notice some succulent sphagnum mosses on the riverbank.

    This trail is approximately 6.4 kilometres and will take about 1.5 hours.

    Routplotter.com https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1618419

    For more information seehttps://www.tameside.gov.uk/parkbridge 

    Anthony has more suggestions of where to hunt for mosses, go back to the main page to find walks around Daisy Nook Country Park and Snipe Clough.

  13. Daisy Nook Country Park: Moss Trail 3

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    Daisy Nook is a beautiful woodland following River Medlock, interested by the old Waterhouses Aqueduct and Hollinwood canal. It has a mixture of woodland paths and gravely wide tracks beside the canal, which are all great for moss. Look out for Liverworts on the muddy banks near the footpath and river. Also, check the fallen trees for different moss.

    Photograph showing bluebells at Daisy Nook

    The walk starts at a car park off the A627 walk into the woods and down to the riverside. Notice the damp stones by the river and many fallen trees with interesting mosses and liverworts. Following the moss trail, through the woods beside the River Medlock, you find more fallen trees for mushrooms and mosses, notice the steep banks beside the track, and mosses between the tree roots.

    When you get to the Waterhouses aqueduct, you can follow the brick embankment to Daisy nook country park visitor centre for a cafe stop. Double back to the aqueduct and follow the path up to the Hollinwood canal. Notice the mosses on the stonework and walls.

    The trail continues to a large pond, follow it round to the old Fairbottom Branch canal and all the way along the canal path to the A627 where you can get back to the car park.

    This moss trail is about 3.4 kilometres and will take approximately 1 hour to walk.

    Routplotter.com  https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1618255

    More Information: Visit Daisy Nook Country Park website, where you can download a map and plan your own day out.

    Interest to go on other moss trails? Go back to the main page to see walks around Snipe Clough and Park Bridge.

  14. Darwin Day: Plant Snacks!

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    Today, the 12th of February, is Darwin Day marking the birthday and celebrating the achievements of naturalist Charles Darwin born in 1809.

    Photograph of Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin

    Darwin is best known for his Theory of Evolution, but he also made detailed studies of all manner of animals, plants and fossils. In 1875 Darwen published a study on insectivorous plants which are a group of plants that have adapted to live in very wet areas of poor soils, needing to supplement their nutrition, ingeniously doing this by consuming insects!  These highly specialised plants have different methods of capturing and slowly ingesting their prey!

    Find out more about Charles Darwin and the collection held at the National History Museum.

    Lantern Slides

    Gallery Oldham is lucky in having a collection of many thousands of lantern slides, including these ones of insectivorous plants. These glass slides would have been projected on to a screen and used to illustrate natural history talks in the museum and library from 1894, when the lecture theatre extension was added to the rear of the Union Street building. At this time a talk with lantern slides would have be technologically advanced, with every seat occupied by an excited audience eager to hear about new discoveries in the natural world. 

    Black and white photo of Old lecture theatre with chairs and stage.

    This group of slides show both line drawings and photographs of living plants which are beautifully hand coloured, perfectly demonstrating these out of the ordinary plants.

    These are only a few of the glass slides we hold in our collection, if you’d like to see more slides or other objects from the Natural History collection, why not visit Search Our Collections webpage.

  15. How a baby got her name!

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    Some readers might remember a previous post written about the botanist Thomas Rogers and his sudden death in the Lake District in 1901 many miles away from his home near Oldham.

    Rogers, a pawnbroker, was an ardent explorer and naturalist set off for the Scottish Highlands in 1875 in search of plants with a small group of similar minded local men. John Whitehead a mill worker, James Nield, a printer and Levi Tetlow, a tea dealer. They had many adventures over a two week stay and Thomas compiled a report to record the places they visited and the species they encountered. This was read before the Manchester Botanist’s Association and later formally published.There was also evidence in the many thousands of well documented specimens that they brought back from their travels. These were flowering plants including many Scottish alpines and also mosses. Thomas was particularly interested in these tiny plants. These important historic specimens are all the natural history collections at Gallery Oldham.

    Included in the flowering plants collected are 10 specimens of Linnaea boralis – Twinflower. A tiny, beautiful, alpine plant.

    Thomas had a daughter in 1866 almost 10 years before his trip, who was named Linnea, after this tiny flower. This unusual name became a family name which has been passed down through the generations.

    Linnaea borealis
    Photo of Linnea in 1931

    Since writing the first blog three of Thomas’s family have got in touch and have provided photographs and more information. One is Jennie a distant cousin and a brother and sister, Thomas’s great grandson David and Thomas’s great grand-daughter Linnea.

    The flower was originally named after the great Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus and is the national flower of Sweden.

  16. Natural Connections

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    Blue Butterflies from Richard Cottam collection

    Links between Oldham and Stepney Museums

    Oldham and Stepney Museums are 230 miles apart but were connected for more than one reason in the early twentieth century. Here, we explore the natural connections.

    If you have read the Painting reveals a hidden Oldham Story blog you will already have come across the Fred Stubbs connection. Fred volunteered at the Oldham Municipal Library, Art Gallery and Museum during 1908. When a vacancy arose at Stepney Museum’s Nature Study Centre, Fred applied and secured the post. When Fred moved to Stepney from Oldham in 1909 Stepney was already at the cutting edge of natural history museum development.

    Fred Stubbs shown in The Naturalist by George Henry Wimpenny

    The School Nature Study Union was set up in 1902-3 to help educate families in crowded inner-city areas who may have had no experience of the natural world. Miss Kate Marion Hall, the first woman museum curator in the country, was employed by Whitechapel Museum later Stepney Borough Museum, from 1894 to 1909. She introduced a number of new ideas during her tenure in one of the poorest areas of the country. Kate and the curate of the parish Claude Hinscliffe with the help of an anonymous donation transformed a small disused mortuary building in a churchyard in to a Nature Study Museum. This was a welcoming place for all and remained open till 10pm, with up to a thousand visitors a day. She included living plants and animals including an observation beehive, an aquarium and a weather station alongside traditional museum objects such as taxidermy. So this was where Fred worked and absobed ideas.

    When Fred returned to Oldham ten years later he would have taken up his post in our 1883 building. However I am in doubt as to where the ideas came from when Werneth Park Study Centre (WPSC) opened its doors in 1938 after its donation to the town by the Lees family. WPSC had aviaries, bee hives and glass houses as well as traditional museum displays. Some older readers will remember it. It is sad that Fred died suddenly before the work was completed but all the Stepney innovations were used at WPSC.

    Small Coppers from Richard Cottam’s collection

    Further Connections

    However, there was still a further Oldham connection. Richard Cottam also of Oldham became student assistant to Fred at Stepney Museum for 3 years – approximately 1911 -1914. Fred and Richard knew each other from their Oldham days where they were both members of the Oldham Microscopical and Natural History Society. Then Richard was a piecer in a cotton mill studying insects in his spare time. He worked in Stepney until 1914 when he took the post of Assistant Economic Entomologist in the Sudan and Egypt working for the government where he stayed until he retired returning to the UK in 1949. Gallery Oldham took the bequest of Richard Cottam’s Butterfly collection in 1963.

    Museums hundreds of miles apart but connected through natural history.

    The Stepney Nature Study Museum closed during the WW2 but the building remains and sadly is on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.

    Written by Patricia Francis, May 2020

  17. In conversation with Mahtab Hussain

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    This FREE event celebrates the launch of our latest exhibition. From 1pm you can meet artist Mahtab Hussain and learn about the portraits in his ‘You Get Me?’ series. There will be an ‘In Conversation’ discussion of the exhibition from 1.30pm.

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and there is always time for a discussion and questions afterwards.

    Saturday 9 March, from 1pm

     

     

  18. Gallery Talks Series

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    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Wednesday 30 January, 1pm
    Join our Natural History curator Patricia Francis to find out more about the wildlife on display in the Oldham Stories exhibition.

     

  19. Gallery Talks Series

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    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Saturday 12 January, 1pm
    Enjoy a guided tour around the Peace and Plenty exhibition with our social history curator and learn more about life in Oldham during the First World War.