The Industrial Revolutionaries is a display at the Harris Museum in Preston. The revolutionaries are the people who made an impact in Preston and include cotton magnates and reformers, mill workers and inventors. The display was funded by a number of organisations to make that key part of Preston’s history come alive for locals and tourists. This is achieved to some degree although if you already have a decent knowledge of local history it might not be deep enough whereas to many it will be just right.
Entering the museum it isn’t obvious where the display is if you come in when the monitor is showing something else. It’s on the third floor.
The information is in a modern well presented display made of a number of islands in subdued light. The story is formed around 7 people in different segments of society which can still be recognised to this day in the UK wrapped in 200 years of new legislation while the changes from rural to urban industrial can be seen today in the development of China. As a side issue, sort of worrying about where we are heading, we need some new inventors in the north west.
For me the most interesting part was the 100 year old film of the raw cotton being processed into material in the Yard Mill. Looking at the workers, their reactions to the camera and thinking they were walking round Preston over a 100 years ago sparked curiosity. Ladies in shawls, men in flat caps or bowlers. We see where the flat cap worker image comes from in the north, whereas in the south it often represents the wealthy country gentleman. The story of the workhouse and prison reform was interesting as well. They’re all interesting and even though it might not appear too deep there is enough, as it would be a good test to name the main characters on leaving. I’d fail.
It would be good if this could be made into a permanent exhibition coupled with updating the History of Preston exhibition. Having been ‘Stuarted’ which is a term used for those intercepted and spoken to by the enthusiastic and knowledgeable museum worker Stuart, it appears that to do that will cost a lot of money and probably at this time the cash will be difficult to find. If I win the Euro Millions maybe. Been to see this twice now and overall it’s definitely worth a visit. On until 6th November 2010. Website; http://www.revolutionaries.org.uk/index.php