An 83-year-old toilet roll made in Letchworth Garden City has won the Hertfordshire Association of Museums’ Object of the Year 2019. The item, still in its original packaging, was manufactured in 1936 by Letchworth chemists, E E Russell, who ran a chemist shop on Station Road in Letchworth from 1911.
And it seems the national media attention it received helped to generate interest, receiving the highest number of votes in an online poll where it was up against 10 other objects from around the county, including a Stanhope peep pipe from Dacorum Heritage Trust, samurai armour from Hertford Museum and an emperor penguin from the Natural History Museum in Tring.
The team also came away with Best Wellbeing Project for Heritage Foundation’s Sharing Memories programme. The Heritage Foundation hosted reminiscence sessions at care homes, day centres and community groups across Letchworth Garden City. The purpose of the sessions is be encourage positive experiences for older people and inspire a strong sense of personal worth and identity, by using images and objects to trigger memories and stimulate conversation.
Josh Tidy, Curator of the Garden City Collection, said: “Thank you to everyone who voted. The Garden City Collection is full of weird and wonderful items like this toilet roll, which seems to have captured the imagination of a lot of people, young and old. We are delighted with the amount of attention the it has received, giving us an opportunity showcase all the incredible work that we do in the community as well. We are active on Facebook and Twitter, we have a reminiscence outreach project and a schools’ programme where we work with young people, helping local schools to build pride in their local town, through heritage and history.”
The toilet roll, along with other curated items from the Garden City Collection, is currently on public display at Letchworth’s micro museum, Museum at One Garden City, which is located just off Broadway Gardens.
The Garden City Collection, based on Letchworth’s Wilbury Hills Road, is known for its comprehensive assortment of quirky and historical artefacts cataloguing the history and heritage of the town since its beginnings in 1903 as the world’s first Garden City.
To see the full list of finalists for the Object of the Year, visit the Hertfordshire Association of Museums website.