Amberley Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this month by launching a new exhibition ‘Meet the Workers… What it was like to work in the Amberley Chalk Pits’, which was opened by the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper on Saturday 16 November. The new exhibition, which will remain open in Humphreys Barn until March next year, includes many photographs that have never been displayed before and looks at some of the personal stories of the people who worked at Amberley until the chalk pits finally closed in the 1960s.
A magnificent cake in the shape of the De Witt lime kilns at the Museum was formally cut by BBC presenter and Museum supporter Nicholas Owen. This was kindly donated for the occasion by Noel Granger of Arcana Cake Craft. Find them on Facebook as @arcanacakecraft or email Noel on firstname.lastname@example.org.
There was a full programme of activities over the weekend, including a series of expert talks on the chalk and lime industry for enthusiasts, arranged by Museum volunteer, Roger Kevern, together with some practical demonstrations of lime mixing kindly provided by East Sussex company Chalk Down Lime.
Children were treated to a Victorian School Day with scary schoolmistress Suzy Duxbury and children from Dramatis, a local drama school, which also staged in the office Mr and Mrs Pepper, the owners of the Amberley Chalk Pits to delight visitors. A particular highlight for many was seeing resident locomotive ‘Burt’ (which is similar to the engine that worked at the chalk pits in the 1920s). Burt was pulling Pepper & Sons trucks on a small stretch of standard gauge track at the Museum, representing the type of wagons that would have serviced the lime kilns.
Museum Director Valerie Mills said: “A big thank you to everyone who helped us to celebrate our first 40 years last weekend, in particular the Lord-Lieutenant for opening our new exhibition, and Nicholas Owen for his support in cutting the cake. The weekend would not have been possible without the support of our volunteers and guest speakers, Chalk Down Lime, Dramatis and Matt Lovell, who supplied a model railway layout. We hope that as many people as possible will visit the Museum over the winter to enjoy the new exhibition.”
Amberley Museum is now open throughout the winter, apart from a Christmas closure from December 23 until the January 10..