Our Collection and Archive

Our collection is wide-ranging and eclectic, illustrating everyday life in the past and the development of Harpenden from farming village to commuter town. The collection, which has been built up since the early 1900s, also shows the sort of things which people thought should be in a museum, not necessarily of purely local interest.

We have fragments of Roman bricks and tiles excavated in the Harpenden area, items connected with the local cottage industries of straw plaiting and lace making and tools and equipment associated with farming and agriculture-related trades.

Many of the local shops and businesses are represented by items in the collection, as well as photographs, documents and objects showing how Harpenden was affected by the First and Second World Wars.

Local notable personalities feature in the collection; actress Ellen Terry, test pilot Group Captain John Cunningham, Lord Hill the Radio Doctor, Cllr F N Gingell, proprietor of Harpenden Dairies, Judy Fryd, founder of Mencap and, of course, comedian Eric Morecambe.

We have thousands of documents and photographs of streets, people, businesses and special events which have taken place in Harpenden and a large collection of paintings and prints.

The Les Casey Archive Room is open when the Museum is open and our volunteer stewards will be pleased to assist. For specific enquiries, or research, an appointment may be made to access the archive. This service is free to members of Harpenden and District Local History Society, a small charge is made to non-members and for any photocopying undertaken.

An index of the Society’s collection is being prepared.

Use of material obtained is subject to copyright. Please contact the Society for written authorisation for onward publication