by ANTONY CLAY
CLIFTON Park and Museum is an attractive green space in the heart of a bustling town.
But go inside the museum building and you will find a thoughtful and fascinating journey through the history of Rotherham.
And Rotherham does have a pretty fascinating past.
The museum also plays host to the town’s Archives collection which is a much-utilised resource for everyone to use.
Whether it be school groups or individual visitors, the museum gets around 225,000 walking through its doors each year. The park gets a staggering two million visitors.
Clifton House was built in 1783 for Joshua and Susannah Walker and has been a museum since 1893.
It is a Grade II*-listed building full of fascinating architectural features.
Visitors can wander round the old house and see the drawing room, the kitchen, the dining room and even the servants’ stairway.
Each room is carefully laid out to show off an aspect of Rotherham history or a special exhibition.
Obviously there is a lot about the Walker family but also the development of industry in Rotherham, which is of interest to any resident or visitor.
There is also the York and Lancaster Regimental Museum featuring an array of items such as uniforms, medals, letters and even poetry. It is a thought-provoking archive.
Projects and development manager Christine Evans said that the museum doesn’t stand still and is always looking to innovate.
She said: “We are constantly thinking about developing the museum.
“We think the musuem is so popular because of our events programme and the fact that it is a free local attraction. We do get a lot of local families coming. We do do really well around the school holidays.”
There are certainly plenty of new attractions all the time. In May, for instance, Wow! Said The Owl will offer a sensory place experience for youngsters. It is well worth keeping an eye on what the museum has to offer.
Volunteers are an important part of putting on events at the museum, said Christine, with a search always on to find new people to help out.
“There will be quite a lot going on at the museum over the next year. There is some exciting news coming,” she added.
“Whenever people talk about the museum they will always talk about Nelson the Lion who has been here for a long time.”
But there is another furry favourite popular with youngsters in the form of Marco the Bear.
Also, if you touch the nose of a bust of Rotherham Channel swimmer William Burgess you are supposed to get good luck.
“What is so lovely about Rotherham is that people are so passionate about its history,” said Christine.
You can find out about how local ceramics were produced, or dip into the world of Rotherham’s earliest inhabitants, or discover more about Victorian science. There really is something for everyone.
Taking a trip around the John Carr-designed building, which incidentally is symmetrical in its design and seen as a smaller version of Wentworth Woodhouse, is a great day out.
The museum at Clifton Park is a real jewel in the crown for Rotherham.
Clifton Park and Museum, Clifton Lane, Rotherham S65 2AA
Opening hours – Monday to Friday 10am-5pm; Saturdays 9.30am-5pm; Sundays 1.30-4.30pm (April to end of September), closed (October to end of March).
Website – http://cliftonpark.org.uk/museum/
Telephone – 01709 336633