Award-winning Diss Museum is open from mid-March to the end of October: Monday to Saturday.
Year 12 pupils from Diss High School visited the museum as part of their Travel & Tourism studies.
Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Elizabeth Hughes, who accompanied them, emailed afterwards: “A huge thank you for taking the time to meet us. It was really interesting to hear about the running of the museum and an excellent local example for their course.”
At the Transport Fayre.
DISS SHOPPING WEEK (1949)
In 1949 the country was in the grip of post-war austerity. But Diss kept up a brave face with a Shopping Week run by the Chamber of Trade.
The event came to light via a programme donated to the museum by 93 year old Mrs. Geraldine Rash.
She was the winner of a competition to find the prettiest girl within a 12 mile radius of Diss.
Her prizes were: a £5 5s 0d voucher, £10 10s 0d dress, a pair of nylons and a pair of shoes.
The programme said that the event was “to demonstrate to the people in the shopping area of Diss, that we can supply them with all their requirements and give them the sort of service they demand.”
Over 100 businesses took part in a voucher scheme, so that people could redeem prizes.
There was a school essay competition on the subject of “Why I like visiting Diss with Mother”.
There were prizes for Lucky Programmes, spotting errors in the programme, competitions in shop windows and for accosting Mr. Diss Week in the streets.
The event was opened by Diss U.D.C Chairman Eric Pursehouse and included a whist drive, gymkhana, boxing tournament, bowls drive, children’s sports, a dance and carnival parade.
Museum manager Basil Abbott said, “The programme is a glimpse of another time, especially the adverts. Wren’s bakery, Doubleday’s soft drinks, Double’s tobacconist, Ives’ shoe shop, Nunn’s Toyland, Bobby’s gents’ outfitters, Chitty’s garage – all gone but part of local history.”
There is film of the Shopping Week on YouTube in an item called Diss Norfolk in the 1940s, part of the Stanley Youngs Collection.
The museum stall at the Burston Rally, making £400 from selling bottled Burston Strike Ale.
The Ghost Walk tickets have now sold out. We may be able to run the tour again another time. Take unwanted tickets back to Sanda’s for a refund, so we can re-sell them.
Last few tickets available for the Ghost Walk. Please don't try to book by phone. Sanda has been very good about selling the tickets, but has been plagued by people phoning. Please buy them in her shop opposite the museum.
Does this poster ring any bells with anyone?
Merry Christmas from all at Diss Museum
As part of Diss Museum's project on the old Picture House, we discovered that there was someone who remembered the silent films.
Denis Clarke, born January 1926, used to walk from Thrandeston with his sisters to the original cinema.
He remembers a sister reading the captions to him when he was very young.
Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy were among his favourites.
He used to write to film stars; and the family still has a collection of signed photos that he received.
Denis remembers the impact of the Talkies, with Jessie Matthews in Evergreen, the first film at the New Picture House in 1934.
He continued to go to films until the late 1940s, when he helped to found the local Assembly of God Church, who did not then approve of films.
Denis is pictured here (centre), with Basil Abbott, as Laurel & Hardy, and Denis' wife Josephine, in a cloche hat, as silent film pianist Ethel Rumsby.
Looking back on 2022 and forward to 2023.
Canon Manning addressed the 41 Club Christmas evening with tales of his family and Diss history. Speaking around the time of the Mere skating carnival, he gave out hats and masks to the company and led them in carols to sing on the ice.
Two King Herods, in shifts, at the Utd Reformed Church, on Christmas Lights Day for a Nativity Trail- the Revd. David Ely and Diss Museum Manager Basil Abbott.
Carry On at Diss Museum
As the season comes to an end, Diss Museum is already preparing for next year.
Manager Basil Abbott is leading a commemoration of Diss Picture House, on the 50th anniversary of its closure.
Gathering anecdotes about the old days, he was pleased to hear from 88 year old Maurice King.
In 1963 Mr. King was General Manager of W.D. Chitty Ltd when they received a message from Fords that the film Carry on Cabby was on general release, and it featured their newest car, the Cortina.
In one scene Hattie Jacques went into a Ford dealer and shocked them by buying 20 new cars. Fords thought that their dealers ought to get some publicity from this film.
The Managing Director of Chitty’s agreed and gave Maurice the job.
He decided to take over the Picture House for the evening for a private free showing to invited customers and guests, preceded by drinks in the Chitty premises.
“It did of course involve negotiating with Jack Jones for the hire of his cinema for the complete evening,” said Maurice, “but luckily he proved very enthusiastic!”
In the film the new taxi Cortinas were driven by attractive young ladies wearing uniforms with short (for those days) skirts, caps and boots.
After a number of phone calls to various departments in the film industry, Maurice managed to borrow enough of the original uniforms to fit out the girls to act as waitresses at the drinks party and then usherettes for the film. But where to find the girls?
He then had a brainwave and talked to Ivan Underwood, the photographer, who produced names and addresses of young ladies he had recently photographed. They jumped at the chance of wearing real film uniforms and were a great success.
“And the whole evening proved a talking point for months to come!” Maurice said.
The town of Diss had a Picture House from the silent movie days to 1973. The cinema building still stands – it is now the Hughes Electrical Store on Victoria Road. We would like to commemorate the cinema's history with a community celebration including events where people can share memories of the Picture House, a parade of 'film stars' through Diss, film shows, a concert of music from the films and an exhibition in Diss Museum.
Diss Museum are aiming to collect support for the project to go ahead in Spring 2023, the 50 year anniversary of the closure of the Picture House. Please let friends know about the survey and help us commemorate this much-loved institution.
Thank you for agreeing to help with our research into the Diss Picture House project.
Article in Dirigible magazine (Summer 2022).
A few of a collection of pictures of old Diss, mainly uncaptioned, that came in recently. They include a great one of the hospital and also one of Dovercourt.
An Appreciation of Tony Billett, on his retirement.
It makes a change to speak highly of someone who is not dead but merely retiring. Diss Museum owes a debt to the Revd. Canon Tony Billett for the support he has given to our projects.
In the 2004 Skelton Festival, a Diss Community Partnership project, he was supportive and posed for a local magazine cover as the Tudor poet-laureate; but had to decline the role of Skelton in the play Magnificence. He did, however, lead a concert of period music at the back of the church.
At the museum we re-made the John Betjeman film about Diss, on his centenary in 2006, with Tony reading the poem Blame the Vicar, with a relish that made you realise its accuracy.
When we commemorated the Manning rectors in 2011, Tony gave his blessing to a service featuring them and preached a relevant sermon. He later played Himalayan traveller Thomas Manning, as he tried to solve the Louie’s Lane Murder of 1829.
In 2014 we had a World War One event in the Market Place, with period dancers, a fly past, a reading by ‘Herr Flick’ actor Richard Gibson and an address by Tony.
I have always been impressed by how well and heartfelt he spoke, even at the funerals of strangers.
In 2019, when we celebrated the R34, he readily agreed to an airship service, although he was not able to take part. Curate Samuel Thorp officiated.
The partnership between museum, church and Corn Hall for the Manning Festival (Friends in High Places), with those colourful Tibetan monks, was particularly successful.
On a personal level, I am also grateful to Tony for conducting my wedding ceremony so well, in September 2020.
Cuttings from a 1910 Diss Express, including Cupiss (still trading until this year), the circus and the verdict of the Crippen murder case. The involvement of Diss girl Ethel le Neve would provoke banner headlines today; but not then.
Queen Victoria’s Jubilee (1887)
The Queen expressed her gratitude to the people, much as Queen Elizabeth did in 2022.
"I am anxious to express to my people my warm thanks for the kind & more than kind reception I met with on going to, returning from Westminster Abbey, with all my Children & Grand Children. The enthusiastic reception I met with then as well as on all these eventful days in London as well as in Windsor on the occasion of my Jubilee has touched me most deeply. It has shown that the labour & anxiety of 50 long years – 22 of which I spent in unclouded happiness, shared & cheered by my beloved Husband, while an equal number were full of sorrows & trials, borne without his sheltering arm & wise help have been appreciated by my People. This feeling & the cause of duty towards my dear Country & subjects, who are so inseparably bound up with my life, will encourage me in my task, often a very difficult and arduous one, during the remainder of my life. The wonderful order preserved on this occasion & the good behaviours of the enormous multitudes assembled merits my highest admiration. That God may protect & abundantly bless my Country is my fervent prayer.”
A.E. Coppard’s short story The Presser gives a glimpse of what the Victorian Jubilee was like for schoolchildren.
“That was a day! All the scholars went to school in the morning to pray, to implore God to confound and frustrate certain nameless nations, to receive a china mug with the Queen’s face twice on it, a medal with her face again – in case the mug got broken – and a paper bag containing half a sausage pie and a great piece of cake. Lord, how grand! Then you marched out to the park with flags, and the park was full – millions of kids. There were clowns and jokers and sports, and you had your mug filled with tea from a steam-roller. Hundreds of steam-rollers.”
The royal visit of Edward VII & Queen Alexandra to Diss Museum was a great success. See more about the Queen here.
She was seen as one of the most beautiful and elegantly dressed queens that England ever had, but after the death of Queen Alexandra in 1925, many of her
How the Camera Club depicted the museum's royal return visit.
When the museum re-opened in March, with a royal return visit by Edward VII & Queen Alexandra, the Camera Club covered the event as a project. Their work is exhibited on the museum verandah on Jubilee Friday and Saturday, 11.00am to 3.00pm.
The museum Trustees need a Secretary and a Treasurer. These are not time-consuming posts, but full of interest and a chance to help in the running of one of the town's best assets.
Email [email protected]
A short film, by Clive Davies, of the opening of Diss Museum, featuring a return visit by Edward VII & Queen Alexandra, early in 1910. It really was like a royal visit, plus a party atmosphere. Everyone had a good time. Thanks to the lookalikes, Bernard Thorndyke as the King and Keshar Whitelock as the Queen, Mayor Eric Taylor, Arthur & Ivy who presented the flowers, Chris Mordey who recited the Tennyson poem; and all those who dressed Edwardian. These included: elegant ladies, cute kids, suffragettes, maids, a gamekeeper and airship crew. Thanks also to Jonny Ling for the barrel organ, Ray Russell the piper and Silverline Limousines for the car. The Camera Club covered the event as a project; and the museum will feature their work at the Jubilee weekend. Funding from Diss Community Team is gratefully acknowledged.
4-5 Market Place (Mail: 11 Market Hill, IP22 4JZ)
Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Diss Museum posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Contact The Museum
Send a message to Diss Museum:
Other Museums in Diss
It feels like it has a story behind it....
Airship Dreams is an artistic enquiry into Bedford’s airship heritage, drawing on the local community’s collective memory and imagination to explore our relationship with flight and air travel. Following a call-out to the community to share airship memories, artefacts and fantasies for an online archive, the project will culminate in a major exhibition at The Higgins Bedford in 2021.
What are your connections with Bedford's airship heritage? What memories, stories or memorabilia do you or your family have from this time? What future do you imagine for flight and air travel?
Find out more about how you can get involved at airshipdreams.com.
The Higgins Bedford
National Lottery Heritage Fund
Airship Heritage Trust
Bedford Borough Libraries
Arts Council England Arts Council England
Goole Museum & Art Gallery
Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust
The Harpur Trust
Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service
Written, presented, filmed and edited by Dr Sita Thomas
Script Consultants: Alastair Lawson, Lydia Saul
Produced by Bedford Creative Arts and The Higgins Bedford
Ident Music: Roger Illingworth
Special Thanks to: Mike Stubbs, Den Burchmore, Anton Hecht
Supplementary footage filmed by Roland Denning
Images and film supplied by The Airship Heritage Trust; Bedfordshire and Luton Archives & Records Service; The Higgins Bedford; The National Museum of the Royal Navy; Royal Air Force Museum London; The Clarke Family; National Portrait Gallery, London
Library Music: soularflair (Adam Mannering)
Made in 2020 as part of the Airship Dreams project, led by Bedford Creative Arts in partnership with The Higgins Bedford and The Airship Heritage Trust, supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Harpur Trust.
How a mislaid hammer led to the finding of the largest Roman treasure in Britain
The Story of the
Tony Diamond will relate the remarkable story of how the largest hoard of late Roman silver and silver coins and ornate jewellery of the fourth and fifth centuries was found at Hoxne. It has an estimated value of some £3.5m and is now in the British Museum.
Friday 20th September, 7.30 pm
St Mary’s Church Hall, Mount Street, Diss IP22 4QQ
Members - £3; Non-members - £5. Pay at the door - All Welcome
Diss Museum is open every day 11 am to 3 pm, March to October. We need Volunteer Stewards, if you can help we would love to hear from you, please email: [email protected] or phone David van der Hulks 01379 640529
Join the Friends: [email protected]