Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Tolson Museum!

As the Examiner revealed this week, the museum is home of the famous Tolson Half Pig – which recently took to Twitter after nearly 89 years in Huddersfield.

But the museum has more than a few unusual creatures.

The illustrious pig resident is just one of hundreds of preserved animals – including scores of wild and exotic birds, a cuttlefish in a jar and a stuffed otter and dog.

 

The museum service’s design and technical team in Ravensknowle Park, Moldgreen, are keen to encourage visitors to the attraction to take an alternative look back at the town’s history.

And with tales from pre-historic times to the present day, it’s easy to lose hours wandering round a maze of bizarre and beautiful artefacts depicting a wealth of stories from the Huddersfield of old. From the Romans to the Luddites, the Victorians to the nuclear age, the museum unearths those who shaped the town we know today – with a few unexpected relics thrown in for good measure.

This isn’t your usual museum tour – it’s a journey into the dark and whimsical as much as the conventional.

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The museum’s show-piece porky mascot recently opened its own Twitter account to celebrate moving into a new display case after a make-over from curator and natural historian, Chris Yeates.

Showing the skeleton on one side and coat the other, the ‘charming old ham’ has astonished and horrified visitors in equal measure for decades and has now set about sharing his observations on life and history on the social media site to promote the museum.

He was bought for just £14 back in 1924 and has since been joined by similar half animals including a horse, sheep, goat and cat.

Chris said: “The pig is one of about half a dozen Damien Hirst-type half animals where you can see the skin on one side and the skeleton on the other, that were acquired very soon after the museum opened.

“The museum opened in 1922 and these were acquired in about 1924 and 1925.

“They were bought, funnily enough, with grant aid money from the Victoria and Albert Museum from a company in London called Gerrards, but the theory is they were actually made in Germany.”

Elsewhere in the museum, there are exhibits dedicated to Victorian weddings, christenings and funerals; a tribute to Charles Darwin and his seminal work, On The Origin Of Species; a bird room boasting hundreds of stuffed feathered creatures; and the Skelmanthorpe Flag.

 

It may sound like your usual ramble into the history books, but these artefacts tell the stories like you’ve never heard them before. And with Tolson’s Top Ten Treasures to discover, it’s little wonder so many go back for a second bite of the cherry.

Chris added: “There are so many things that will surprise you – it’s an excellent free afternoon.

“You can now enjoy cups of tea and cakes and there’s lots of things to see you wouldn’t expect you will see – and you’ll go away glad that you have.”

TOP 10 TREASURES

1. Valveless Car, David Brown Gears

2. Huddersfield Town train name plate

3. Knurrs, spell and pommel

4. The Whitley Beaumont ceilings

5. The Woodsome Panels

6. The Netherton Hoard

7. The Skelmanthorpe Flag

8. View of Huddersfield by William Cowen, 1849

9. Cropping tool

10. Mrs Sunderland's desk

All about the Tolson Museum

It opened in 1922 and is famed for its vast collection of historic and unique  artefacts depicting life in Huddersfield through the ages.

 The town's textile industry created wealth for mill-owners, the Beaumonts, who lived in Ravensknowle Hall before it was transformed into a museum.

  Displays of machinery and artefacts explain how the factory system changed the lives of workers and of the spirited resistance to new machinery by the Luddites.

  The museum also has several other Luddite related artefacts including Enoch’s Hammer and a hair tidy made by one of the Luddites whilst awaiting trial at York Assizes.

  The Skelmanthorpe Flag, another of the museum's main attractions was made in 1819 to honour the victims of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester.

  It was mounted on poles and taken to meetings throughout the 1800s, including a gathering of 250,000 at Roberttown near Mirfield in 1837.

  After being left in a disused warehouse, the flag was eventually rescued by Skelmanthorpe resident, Fred Lawton, who recognised its significance and presented it to Tolson Museum.

  Number eight on the top-ten list is an oil painting of Huddersfield from Ashes Lane by William Cowen from 1849.