At the Quaker Tapestry Museum
In this blog, for the week’s theme of ‘Greener Travel’, we are highlighting the ‘Railways’ and ‘Pilgrimages’ panels of the Quaker Tapestry and shining a light on the greener ways both visitors and staff use to get to the museum.
We are participating in the #MuseumCarbonStories campaign, as part of the Roots and Branches project to support museums to become Carbon Literate and take action against climate change.
The campaign is taking place in the run-up to the UK hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. HOME – UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021 (ukcop26.org)
The first panel we are highlighting for this week’s ‘Greener Travel’ theme is our own ‘Railways’ Panel from the Quaker Tapestry.
The panel tells the story of Edward Pease, a Darlington Quaker, who in 1818 was instrumental in promoting a ‘rail’ way to Stockton on Tees, receiving royal assent for ‘The Stockton & Darlington Railway Act’ three years later. The line opened in September 1825 with freight trains hauled by steam, but passenger trains continued to be drawn by horses until 1833.
Many Quaker families were involved in the early development and expansion of the railways, some of them can be seen in the strip at the bottom of the panel.
Although train travel is now often emphasised as a form of public transport that is far more eco-friendly than travelling by car, the earliest railways, including Stockton, were built to transport coal and other industrial goods, rather than passengers. Pease himself emphasised the social benefits that cheap coal would bring. Paradoxically, it is a return to this original use of the railways, for the transportation of goods (no longer coal!) for longer distances across the country that is now being sought by green advocates.
It is vastly more efficient on fuel to transport freight by rail, with dozens of trailers fitting on every train vs one per articulated lorry. This efficiency and climate-friendliness increases again if the railway is electrified. Additionally, wear on the roads, congestion and local tailpipe emissions are all drastically reduced.
The second panel we are highlighting for this week’s ‘Greener Travel’ theme is our own ‘Pilgrimages’ Panel from the Quaker Tapestry.
This panel follows the story of Ernest E. Taylor, who in 1891 moved to Kendal from Malton, Yorkshire. He soon became captain of the mixed cycling club started by the Westmorland Quakers when the Rover safety bicycle came into being. Taylor later became a guide, leading expeditions to celebrate the tercentenary of George Fox’s birth in 1924. He followed this event in 1930 with a ‘pilgrimage’ of mainly Yorkshire friends. From 1936 there were regular expeditions to the north-west by senior pupils of Bootham and Mount Schools in York and gradually all Quaker schools in England joined in.
The centre of the panel depicts pilgrims crossing the ‘dangerous sands’ of Morecambe Bay under the supervision of an official Duchy of Lancaster Guide. This was the old route from Lancaster to the Furness District and thus to Swarthmoor.
Encouraging people to travel by foot, rather than by car has been a key feature of many green campaigns. This is easiest for short journeys such as popping to the shops, but can be for longer routes, such as locally, The Cumbria Way or The Coast to Coast Walk. Walking can be a new way of experiencing a familiar area, forcing one to really slow down and take in their surroundings.
Greener Travel at the Quaker Tapestry Museum
This brings us back to the present day. In what ways can we chose more climate-friendly travel options and make sure our journeys are sustainable?
Our staff and visitors use a variety of greener options to get to the museum. Kendal Train Station (pictured below) is just a 7 minute walk away and Kendal Bus Station (pictured above) is even closer at only 3 minutes’ walk.
We have secure bike racks for staff which are also available to museum visitors upon request and if you let us know in advance of your visit, we will charge your electric bike battery, free of charge.
Why not chose one of these greener travel options next time you visit and help make a difference?
If you enjoyed reading this blog, check out some of our other blog posts:
Discover the story behind Kendal’s Flood Tapestry in our Changing Landscapes blog
Find out about ‘Ecology and Nature’ at the museum in our #MuseumCarbonStories blog
Supporting the Quaker Tapestry
We couldn’t accept and care for our tapestries and other wonderful artefacts without our dedicated Care and Conservation team. However we need your help to…
– Create an improved database of the extensive Quaker Tapestry collection of supplementary items
– Develop best practice of the Care and Conservation volunteers through further training
Your donation will help us achieve our goals and ensure the longevity of the exhibition and collection. Please consider making a donation
Quaker Tapestry Facts
The colourful tapestry panels measure 63.5cm x 53.3cm and are made using a mix of five ancient stiches and a new one, invented for the project. Embroiderers around the world now use the ‘Quaker Stitch’.
World traveller and writer Alexander McCall Smith, says they’re one of the ‘six best tapestries’ to see in the world.
The panels help you find out about famous scientists, engineers, bankers, botanists and non-conformists who pioneered industrial welfare, fair trade, prison reform, peace work and anti-slavery initiatives. Many were Cumbrians.
Begun in 1981 and completed in 1996, they’re the work of 4,000 men, women and children from around the world. Some of the panels made journeys of thousands of miles as they passed from one group of people to another.