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Here you can find interesting local stories from the collections in our museums.

Pioneers of Drag

Drag was a staple of seaside venues and music halls in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainstream entertainment that subtly challenged the ways men and women were often seen. Billie Manders and Vesta Tilley were two British actors who embraced drag and performed across the country, including venues in the Tees Valley.

Redcar Rock Shop

John Robert Jenny’s Rock Shop is one of the most well-known staples of the Redcar Esplanade, having served the locals and tourists of Redcar for over 50 years.

A sepia landscape photo showing a complex and imposing building in the semi distance, to the front is finely mowed grass.

The Women of St Luke’s

Built at a time when medical practices were still learning about mental illness and learning disabilities and when society viewed these conditions with much suspicion and stigma, St Luke's was a complex labyrinth of buildings designed to both care for and incarcerate those considered to be mentally ill.

Dame Laura Knight in Staithes

Dame Laura Knight was one of the most well-known women artists in England. She worked mostly in Nottingham and London and produced paintings that depicted circus performers and travelling communities, and her paintings of England’s war effort during World War Two.

In the mid-1890s to mid-1900s, she lived and worked in Staithes, and while many of her paintings and drawings during that time have not survived, Kirkleatham Museum holds a small collection of the sketches that were a part of her development as an artist.

A pill box with the title Femodene next to the strip of pills in there foil containers.

The Pill and the Eugenics Movement

The Pill is remembered as a revolutionary advancement in the woman's movement towards greater independence and freedom. But did the people who invent the Pill have the best of intentions at heart?

Henriette Ronner-Knip’s Cat Paintings

Henriette Ronner-Knip is known for her paintings of animals, especially cats, and five of her paintings are part of the art collection of Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Services.

Sir William Gray the Draper

This Christmas we are taking a look at the drapery business that launched the successful career of one of Hartlepool's most famous men, Sir William Gray. Featuring some Christmas Present flyers from his high class stores, this story shines a light on one of Hartlepool's greatest business.

Raid on the North East Coast, 1916

During the First World War England sometimes came under attack by German Army Zeppelins, which could be terrifying and destructive, but they were not unbeatable. This is the story of one shot down by Sub-Lieutenant Ian Pyott of Seaton Carew RAF base.

Two women and one man look into the camera linking arms and smiling celebrating the end of the First World War.

Peace Day Celebrations in Stockton

On the 11th November 1918, at 5am in the morning the armistice was signed marking the end of the First World War. The war had been raging for four and a half years, changing the very landscape of British society, killing and injuring millions across the globe.

Officially though the war ended for definite with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, and in July, Britain celebrated.

Ichthyosaurs, Sea Monsters of the Coast

For Halloween we are looking at a prehistoric monster that once lived many millions of years ago and whose remains continue to be found on our coast to this day.

A view of a painting cropped to show a lady's deep blue silk dress with her hands in her lap, one flower in hand.

The Ghost of Lady Gerard

For many a century the ghost of Lady Gerard, sometimes called Jerrett, has been said to haunt Darlington Town Centre. In fact, her story is quite possibly the most famous ghost story in the town. For Halloween this year we are going to relay the bloody story of Lady Gerard and see if it holds up to historical scrutiny.

The Commondale Brickworks and Pottery

In the 1860s a pottery and brickworks was set up in the village of Commondale. The pottery was short-lived but produced some memorable wares, and bricks with ‘Commondale’ in them can be found around North Yorkshire and the North East.