A Hive of Industry – until September 2011


Quietly over the summer a new exhibition has been installed at the Museum at Gunnersbury. A fantastic array of products made in Hounslow and Ealing the two boroughs the museum serves, has been brought out of the stores and visitors will be amazed at the number of famous brands which have local connections.

This is the kind of exhibition Gunnersbury does really well and it demonstrates what our Museum could be some proper investment. Despite its extreme lack of resources, the combination of a rich collection and an imaginative curator really works. This display is thoughtfully laid out, clearly labelled, and very enjoyable. There are some surprising facts: did you know that Queen Elizabeth I insisted that her bread be made from Heston wheat?  that Buckingham Palace was built with bricks made in Northolt? that an Acton toy factory made the teddy bear which was the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh? and that Feltham supplied fire extinguishers to the Tsar of Russia?

Some of the objects are now on show for the first time. You will find a vacuum cleaner from the Hoover factory; tins of Cherry Blossom boot polish, a Bush radio and a Leak tuner, a  seventeenth century sword from the Hounslow sword factory, a Jantzen swimming costume, beer bottles from Fuller Smith and Turner, early pharmaceuticals from Glaxo, Noon curry packaging, razors from Gillette and Wilkinson Sword, an Ealing Studios film poster and a wealth of other products from well-known factories such as Coty, Sandersons, Firestone, Macleans, and Lucozade.

This exhibition explains why the area has been so productive – the local soils encouraged horticulture and brick-making, the Thames gave us fishing and boat- building, canals and railways attracted a huge variety of industries, then the Great West Road gave space for modern model factories and the clean air west of the City attracted both film studios and airports.

If you or your family have worked in these local industries the Museum would love you to come and share your thoughts and memories, and even add to the exhibition with loans or donations of products or old photos.

A Hive of Industry is open now and runs until September 2011, admission free.Opening times – 11am to 5pm April – October; 11am to 4pm November – March.

Contact the Curator, Vanda Foster on 0208 992 1612; vanda.foster@laing.com