Some snapshots of our collections

Shelves at Blythe House


Book of matches by Bryant & May, c 1960

1200 items from the Stone Age to today, from North American Eskimo fire drills to Vestas, ‘strike-anywhere’ matches.

Patent office

Boulton and Watt rotative engine, 1788

Bennet Woodcroft was the man who secured ‘Puffing Billy’, Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ and the engine of Henry Bell’s ‘Comet’ for the nation.


Letters sent by balloon, the world's first air mail stamp and many other ‘aeronautica’ items, collected together by Miss Penn-Gaskell.


A collection containing part of the original great bell of the Houses of Parliament, the first ‘Big Ben’ and other intriguing metals.

X-ray tubes

X-ray of a rat, 1896

X-rays were discovered by Professor W C Rontgen on the evening of Friday 8 November 1895 while he was engaged on the study of cathode rays.

Wellcome collection

Genoese medicine chest, c 1565

Over 114,000 items, from the world’s oldest surviving medicine chest of 1570 to a Chinese acupuncture training model of about 1727.