The Cowle Legacy - an exhibition

Our exhibition took place as planned during the month of October 2013. We had a proper launch party where we were able to give thank-you copies of our book to our sponsors, and start selling copies to visitors. The exhibition was about William and his work to improve living conditions in the town. I had promised "sights and smells of Victorian Stroud" but in the end the museum staff would not allow me to put a dozen full nappy buckets and a dead pig in the corner - for Health and Safety reasons - so we had to describe it instead. The exhibition was extremely well received, by museum staff and visitors alike. One benefit was that the museum staff noticed visitors who were not familiar and the exhibition attracted 650 visitors during the month. The most gratifying result was the number of people who said "I didn't know that". And we did get some very helpful follow-up suggestions in our Visitors Book.

So many local people asked to be able to see it again that Stroud library was very happy to give it space for the week before Christmas. The County Archives had already asked for it to go up in April/May 2014, so that happened too.

All this public activity was not at all what we had planned to do when we started the research. Fortunately the Stroud Local History Society (of which we are both members) stepped up to offer sponsorship, and raised enough money from local organisations to cover the cost of putting on the exhibition and making the first print run of the book about William. The Langtree Trust, Stroud Freemasons, and Stroud Town Council added grants to the money offered by the SLHS, and we came in just under budget. The local newspaper Stroud Life was also very supportive, and put this photograph in their newspaper:

Marion Tony William Helen

Our first print run of the book sold out before the end of the exhibition so we quickly ordered more copies. Sales of the book have raised over 1,000 for the museum's educational resources budget, which has been another unexpected bonus.

Tuesday 1st October to Sunday 27th October, 2013

Gallery 2 at the Museum in the Park

The Museum's own website will list the exhibition contents and opening times on its What's On? page, but here are the main details:

This exhibition contains pictures, stories and maps relating to the life of William Cowle and his many activities in and around the town of Stroud. There will also be a rolling series of short slideshows during the day to expand the content of the exhibition.

Cowle exhibition poster

Here is the programme of talks associated with the exhibition. Tickets for talks at the Museum in the Park (MiP) can be booked in advance at the Museum.

Marion Hearfield and Tony Macer, page updated Apr 2014