Chesham Museum opens From the River to the Railway exhibition at the Good Earth Gallery

Duck Alley Chesham - postcard of a row of houses opposite a body of water

Arts Council England National Lottery Project grant and Chesham and Villages Community Board support the museum’s new temporary exhibition.

Have you ever wondered how the river got its name? Or how it fuelled the local economy? Have you ever thought about why the town has a railway station when nearby villages don’t? Or perhaps your family moved to Chesham as a result of the connections made by the town’s new railway?

Chesham Museum’s new temporary exhibition From the River to the Railway explores the answers to these questions. Located in the Good Earth Gallery, in Lacey’s Yard, Chesham, the exhibition looks at the impact of the River Chess and the Metropolitan Railway, on people’s lives in the past and today.

The exhibition features historic images, maps, excerpts from personal stories and objects, that explore how the river shaped early life in the town, providing power for mills, a place for tanning and a source of clean water. Later, the river was used extensively for growing watercress.

The arrival of the Metropolitan Railway in 1889 connected the town’s thriving local industries – boots, bottles, brushes, beer – with the metropolis. From the 20th century to today it has fuelled migration, with people moving out of London to the beauty of ‘Metro-land’.The exhibition is hands-on and family friendly with a range of handling items and costumes related to life in the 1890s when the railway arrived.

Through the exhibition the museum is hoping to gather migration stories from people who live in the town today, to help build up a record of how and why people have settled in the town since the arrival of the railway.

The exhibition will be open from 2nd September to 1st October and will be open Wednesday to Saturday 10am-4pm. In addition it will be open on Heritage Day, Sunday 11th September, in the afternoon, when some extra activities will be on offer, as well as a guided walk of the town. Other events will be taking place throughout the exhibition’s month-long run.

Museum trustee John Hatton notes:

As someone born in the heart of urban Metroland just after WW11 our family regularly took the train out to the Chilterns, where we would go walking, enjoying the lovely countryside. As I grew older, I saw many of my age group marry and move out to Amersham / Chesham and surrounding areas – and I followed them…I am therefore a ‘newcomer’. This exhibition demonstrates so much of what my generation saw as an attractive place to move to and raise a family – and it tells some of the history and heritage of our adopted ‘homeland’. Come and enjoy it with us.

John Hatton

To coincide with the exhibition, the museum is also launching a new website. Created with the help of the museum’s volunteers the website features highlights from the museum’s collection, learning resources for people to explore Chesham’s heritage, and details of museum events and activities.

The exhibition and website are part of Chesham Museum’s A Future for Chesham’s Past project, supported by Arts Council England and the Chesham and Villages Community Board. The project is connecting local people with their local history.

For more information contact

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