Musuem collection celebrates part of Dereham’s heritage with new exhibition on Hobbies

Hobbies of Dereham. Date: 22 feb1954. Picture: Archant Library

Hobbies of Dereham. Date: 22 feb1954. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

The widow of a renowned model maker has donated a special collection to a museum as part of an exhibition that focuses on a historic Dereham business.

From 1895 until 1960 Hobbies of Dereham was supplying kits, tools, components and guidebooks to budding model makers such as Alan Cambridge who became known for his recreations of the iconic Hobbies treadle operated fretsaw.

Now Mr Cambridge's wife, Margery, is donating a collection of her husband's fretsaw models to Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum in Dereham for an exhibition which will highlight the business' importance to the town's industrial past.

Sue Walker White, curator of the museum, said: 'Hobbies was such a major part of the town for so long and this exhibition is part of a start of trying to get people's memories recorded for a museum archive on the impact the business had, there's probably people out there with little gems such as pictures of one of their parents working on things for Hobbies.

'The company even took part in the war effort in the first and second world wars, helping to make huge parts of airplanes.'

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She continued: 'Until Margery's donation we didn't have any examples of the Hobbies treadle machine to show anyone but now we have and we hope to keep one on permanent display. This collection from Margery and Alan has given us a piece of Dereham's iconic history that we can put on show.'

Mr Cambridge took up his model making hobby after retiring from his job as an engineer, a profession that Mrs Cambridge said made him something of a perfectionist.

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She said: 'Everything you see in the collection, Alan made from scratch. This was his hobby, he did them all in the workshop and he'd be in there hours. He was previously an engineer and so everything had to be spot on. If it wasn't, he wouldn't use it. Often he wouldn't even have plans. He would just sit in his workshop and build them.'

She added: 'I think he would be very honoured for them to be on display. I'm sad he's not here to see it but I'm very proud of him, very proud.'

The collection goes on show this weekend as part of an exhibition that focuses on Hobbies and its place in Dereham. To celebrate there will be a special free open day on Saturday, May 27, from 1.30pm until 4pm.

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