West Park Museum is a small but beautifully formed collection of the surprising and unusual. The museum was the idea of Marianne Brocklehurst, the daughter of Macclesfield’s first MP and silk manufacturer John Brocklehurst. Today it contains her collection of Egyptian artefacts, along with fine art and local history.
Marianne has an amazing story. Along with her companion Mary Booth (together known as the MBs), she travelled to Egypt recording her visits in her diary and watercolours, and returned with a variety of treasures to share with the people of Macclesfield. They went on their first trip in 1873 with her nephew Alfred and liveried footman George Lewis, who both enjoyed shooting and wanted to ‘bag’ a crocodile.
One of her more memorable purchases was the mummy case of Shebmut which once contained the remains of a 12 year old dancing girl. Worried that they would be discovered taking it out of the country, they removed the mummy with its distinctive smell and gave it a Christian burial on the banks of the Nile.
Marianne spoke to her brother Peter about the idea of building a museum and he agreed to fund it. She chose the architect Mr Purdon Clarke, the deputy director of South Kensington Museum. His design was based on the interior of the south gallery of the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. She sent the design to the town council for their approval, but instead the Borough Surveyor produced a completely different plan. Both were presented to the Parks Committee who chose the Borough Surveyor’s plan. Marianne then withdrew her offer to fund the museum when her design was described in the local paper as a ‘dog kennel’, ‘a tool house’ and a ‘mortuary’!
Eventually the council agreed to the original design and an announcement was made at the town’s celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897 that the museum was finally going to be built.
Today West Park Museum is home to Marianne’s Egyptian collections and to the artwork of local artist Charles Tunnicliffe, famous for his natural history illustrations. Macc Panda can also be found at West Park Museum, when he’s not out and about tweeting, @MaccPanda. The Giant Panda was donated to the museum by Captain Henry Brocklehurst, a descendant of Marianne, who visited China in 1935 and shot the animal.
Access: Step free access. No toilet facilities.