The People’s Museum, Brent
From Watling Street to Wembley Stadium, Metroland to McVities, the history of Brent is full of local stories with a national flavour.
So how are people responding to the stories and objects? I caught the bus from Wembley Park and visited the museum, in Willesden Green library, to find out. I arrived at about 4pm, and it was an absolute thrill to see the museum buzzing with after-school family visitors and young people exploring.
I chatted with Zerisa and Sahara who told me they’d visited several times and love coming back. I said how brilliant it was to see people reading and talking about the collections on display.
In the museum we focus on the lives of people living locally since 1850, trying to tell the personal stories that lie behind each object and image.
In the text I ask questions that I hope will intrigue visitors:
- How do we know about Brent’s history?
- What made the area look so different 150 years ago?
- Why did farmers send Brent’s milk to central London by train?
- Who tried to build an Eiffel Tower in Brent’s amusement park?
- Which of Britain’s most famous brands set up shop in Brent?
- What was the first Ideal Home Exhibition like?
- Why did the people of Willesden buy a Spitfire for a Polish air squadron during World War Two?
- Who built fairytale castles for families in Brent?
- What went wrong with the pioneering Chalk Hill housing estate?
- What happened when thousands of people supported the strike led by Jayaben Desai at the Grunwick photo processing plant?
The displays encourage people to explore the history of their own family or area in the archives, held on site. And also to help the museum to collect things that represent their own stories of Brent. I hope the museum continues to be as popular as it was on the day I was there.