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Social and industrial history

Our social history collections reflect the daily and working life of Shropshire inhabitants. It includes important collections of agricultural vehicles and machinery, coins and medals (numismatics), arms and armour and costume.

Our Costume Collection contains approximately 5000 items dating from 1700 to 1980. Womenswear contains over 100 complete dresses including a Mantua (1710) and the Hazledine Wedding Dress (1758). Menswear includes important items such as Clive of India’s Mayoral Robe (1760) and a Postman’s Coat of 1860.  Our notable Kay Kohler Collection includes a range of costume, needlework and textiles from many parts of the World.

Currently we are working towards:

  • Recently we have produced a Catalogue of the Arms and Armour Collection in partnership with Kay Smith and the staff of the Royal Armouries.
  • A review and rationalisation of our agricultural collections to ensure that we maximise the resources available to care for key items in the future.

Items from our collection can be seen at:

Acton Scott Historic Working Farm

Our Agricultural collections reflect the importance of farming to the economy of Shropshire for many generations.  The collection is focused upon Acton Scott Historic Working Farm, which opened in 1975 to preserve the skills, tools and equipment used to work an upland farm in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In this regard it was ‘the first museum of its kind in the British Isles’. The collections also go beyond this to record Shropshire’s wider agricultural story including local manufacturers of machinery and vehicles. A range of vehicles, machinery and tools can be seen both on static display and working on site.

Coleham Pumping Station

Home to our largest social history exhibit, a working beam engine.

Ludlow Museum

As the location for the Council of the Marches, Ludlow became an important administrative centre and prospered as a result.  The museum displays trace the history of the town, its guilds and eventual decline in the twentieth century.

Much Wenlock Museum

At beginning of the 19th century Much Wenlock remained a small town, but the birth of the Industrial Revolution within the Borough saw it transformed into a busy market town serving a flourishing limeworking industry.

The sleepy little Shropshire market town of Much Wenlock seems an unlikely destination for the world’s media crews but, every Olympic year, countless journalists from around the globe arrive at the town.  They come to celebrate Much Wenlock’s remarkable role in developing the modern Olympic Games and to discover the story of a local doctor and his tireless campaign to improve the physical and mental strength of the local population.

Shrewsbury Museum
& Art Gallery

Our changing display of costume regularly features highlights from the collection.  Our Men or iron display traces the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the town. Other small changing displays of social history explore a range of currently topical themes.

Featured collections