On Tuesday 11 September, a recording of the Ellesmere Polka by University of Salford musicians will be played in the Egg Space at the University’s MediaCityUK building, along with recordings of people’s memories of working at or visiting the historic hall.
The exhibition is the culmination of a project funded by the Peel Group who own the land and has involved an archaeological dig and survey of historic sources, recording memories and the dusting off of archives relating to one of the region’s finest historic homes. The work has been carried out by the University’s Library and the Centre for Applied Archaeology. And now that the historical project has been completed, Peel Group is offering the chance for people to give their views on a number of architects’ proposals for the future use of the Hall.
Among the many historic memory recordings to be played at the exhibition are those of Ruth Campbell who lived in the grounds with her grandfather, William Barber Upjohn, head gardener at the Hall from the1860s until 1914.
Worsley New Hall was a Victorian mansion built for the Earls of Ellesmere and demolished at the end of the 1940s. During the First World War the Ellesmeres loaned the Hall to the British Red Cross for use as a military hospital. In the Second World War the Hall and grounds were used by the Home Guard and as accommodation for American troops.
It is from the early part of the Hall’s life that the Ellesmere Polka originates. The tune was composed by Heinrich Blumer “on the occasion of the visit of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria to Worsley New Hall, the seat of the Earl of Ellesmere”. That was the last occasion when it was played, but it has now been recorded by the University’s Dr Robin Dewhurst.
Leading the historical project was the University Library’s Dr Alexandra Mitchell. “We’ve uncovered many great memories and records relating to the history of this hall – almost too much to get into one exhibition,” she said.
“The memories of people who worked and lived in the area are very special and, by recording them, we’ve preserved a piece of history for future generations.”
The exhibition is free entry and runs 11-19 September at the Egg space, University of Salford at MediaCityUK.