World's smallest museum in Warley to hold new exhibition
Anyone over the age of 40 will recall the distinctive W-shaped man motif of Halifax’s Samuel Webster’s brewery which once adorned scores of pubs and off-licences across West Yorkshire.
They disappeared during the 1990s after the company was sold, but the exhibition organiser has revealed the image lives on as the logo of Snow Beer in Tongxiang, China.
This is one of many surprises, mysteries and memory-joggers emerging from a display of over 500 bottle tops from the collection of Huddersfield couple Phil and Deryn Wood. Incorporating tops from beers as well as soft drinks from over a hundred countries, it is thought to be the first exhibition of its kind ever to be shown in the region.
Whilst many countries can boast hundreds of collectors it seems to be a pastime that has never really popped the cork of Britons, so Phil and Deryn hold one of only a handful of such collections.
Phil said: “We originally responded to a request from a friend in Latvia to gather some British tops for his son’s small collection.
"Then the lad lost interest but, by then, my wife and later me had got ourselves hooked. Deryn’s a creative person so she fell in love with the charming designs and colours.
"I’m an enthusiastic traveller and beer drinker so I was intrigued by the places the tops came from and the many stories these tiny slivers of tin can tell us.”
The couple have only been collecting for a year but, having been welcomed into a worldwide network of collectors, they have gathered over 3500 in that time.
Their display will include themes, such as portrayals of people, animals and places as well as tops from islands and many from the north of England, which visitors will be invited to try and guess the identity of.
Phil added: “Ironically, the Covid lockdown put paid to my travelling, but exchanging with international bottle top collectors offered an alternative way of keeping in touch with the wider world. Then someone said they knew the perfect place to display the tiny collection and that’s how we discovered Warley’s delightful and unique museum.”
The museum was converted from a redundant telephone kiosk in 2016 by the Warley Community Association, curators Chris and Paul Czainski conceived and designed the museum and they have staged a variety of miniature exhibitions since then.
Chris and Paul said: “As Covid has shut down much of the arts and museum activity of the region we are pleased that Warley can take a lead in restoring some kind of normality. This is the ideal venue for Phil’s show and next to the lovely Maypole pub too. With its unique logo each bottle top is an artwork.
"How often do we bother to consider it’s design before tossing it in the bin.”
The exhibition opens on August 25 and will run for three months. While Covid restrictions mean the kiosk door must remain locked, the exhibits are readily visible from the outside.