History of Hull Museums (part 2)

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Museum of Commerce and Transport (1925)


The Museum of Commerce and Transport was opened on High Street in 1925 as the first of its kind in Britain. Sheppard was given the Old Corn Exchange building on High Street (now the Hull and East Riding Museum) to set up the museum, and persuaded local firms to carry out the work on the museum for free. It was filled with a transport collection which included carriages, trams, cars and a plane, some of which he begged from other museums.

Displays showing the evolution of transport and Hull's principal industries were extensively damaged in 1941. It re-opened as the Transport and Archaeology Museum in 1957, the transport collections are now based in the Streetlife Museum.

Tithe Barn Museum at Easington (1928)


Easington Tithe Barn opened in 1928 as Britain's first folk life and agricultural museum after the building had been restored by the East Riding Antiquarian Society. The building was closed when the war broke out in 1939 and was never re-opened as a museum.

Mortimer Collection of Prehistoric Antiquities (1929)


The Mortimer Museum of Prehistoric Antiquities was opened in 1929 with a collection which Sheppard had campaigned for 13 years to get. This collection of more than 66,000 archaeological and geological objects had been excavated and collected by J.R. and Robert Mortimer. Sheppard became a close friend with J.R. Mortimer helping publish some of their collections. After Mortimer's death Sheppard managed to obtain the money to purchase the collection.

The Mortimer Museum remained in 3 of the Victoria Galleries until it was transferred to the Transport and Archaeology Museum on High Street in 1956. The collection is now incorporated into gallery displays featuring archaeology and natural history in the Hull and East Riding Museum.

Railway Museum (1933)


The Railway Museum opened on Paragon Street in 1933 displaying some of the railway collections from the Museum of Commerce and Transport. Having once worked with the railway Sheppard had always been a collector of objects relating to railway history. More than 250 exhibits were lost when the museum was destroyed by an air raid on 8th May 1941.

'Old Time' Street Museum


In 1931 Sheppard attempted to create an entire street in a warehouse behind Wilberforce House on High Street, to be known as 'The Old Times Street'. His plan was to reproduce shops of 100-150 years ago, and by the mid 1930s it was near completion. However it was destroyed by an air raid in 1941 before it even had the chance to open to the public.

After the war


The post-war period witnessed a consolidation of the collections and buildings remaining after the extensive damage suffered during the war. The Mortimer Galleries re-opened in February of 1949 and the Georgian Houses and a new garden was created behind Wilberforce House in 1950. The restored Georgian Houses and the Transport and Archaeology museums were opened in 1957.

The Spurn Lightship, opened as a museum in 1986 and moored in the Hull Marina; Streetlife museum now housing Hull Museums' transport collection, moved from the Museum of Commerce and Transport in the 1980s. The Old Grammar School, housing the museum of Hull's social History; and Hull and East Riding Museum, opened in 1997 containing archaeological and natural history collections.