Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A Visit to the London Sewing Machine Museum

London Sewing Machine Museum T A Rushton shopfront

If I had to choose, I would say that the best aspect of blogging for me has been getting to know other bloggers and the inspiration that I draw from them. Back in January, the lovely Sy from Sy's Prints (& Stuff) blogged about a visit to the London Sewing Machine Museum in Wimbledon. I tweeted about her visit which resulted in a very positive response and a large group of us arranged to visit the museum one Saturday morning in April.

Following the Second World War, Thomas Arthur Rushton began to retrieve sewing machines from derelict homes and restored them. You can a replica of his original shop front above, which was at 185 Merton Road. Rushton was skilled in sewing machine service and repairs but it was not always easy – the Singer company tried to destroy the second hand sewing machine market and began to retrieve machines too and would destroy their bases to prevent resale.

London Sewing Machine Museum sign

Rushton’s son Ray used to drive around on his bicycle to collect the machines and they later bought a van. It is Ray who has started the museum based on his own private collection of antique, vintage and modern sewing machines that he has amassed over the years.

London Sewing Machine Museum Victoria Sewing Machine

Some of the pieces in the museum are quite spectacular. When Ray Rushton bought the Queen Victoria sewing machine (pictured above) for £23,500 it was the most expensive machine ever sold. This 1865 Pollack & Schmidt machine was given to Queen Victoria’s daughter on the occasion of her wedding. Please excuse the quality of the photograph, the machine is naturally behind glass!

London Sewing Machine Museum retro Alfa Stitchline machine

Housing over 600 machines, the collection is quite extensive and features machines from all eras, including the very first Singer model.

London Sewing Machine Museum vintage receipt

Almost as interesting as the sewing machines was the collection of vintage memorabilia such as the original receipt above which dated back to 1929.

London Sewing Machine Museum custom made shoes

We learned that the ornate stitching on the shoes above would have required a special type of machine. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a pair of custom made shoes again in quite the same way!

London Sewing Machine Museum

Our visit to the museum kept us entertained for well over an hour, especially as the manager was so happy to talk to us and answer all of our questions.In the foreground of the photo above, you can make out a charity box – visits to the museum are free and all they ask is that you make a donation into one of the charity boxes.

London Sewing Machine Museum - vintage signage

London Sewing Machine Museum antique machine

London Sewing Machine Museum - bobbin

The London Sewing Machine Museum is highly recommended and well worth a visit. Do take note that it is only open on the first Saturday of every month from 2pm to 5pm. I contacted the museum prior to our visit and they were super speedy and helpful with their replies. The museum is situated above the Wimbledon Sewing Machine Co so keep that in mind for all craft and sewing requirements.

London Sewing Machine Museum
Wimbledon Sewing Machine Co Ltd
308-312 Balham High Rd
London
SW17 7AA
Website: London Sewing Machine Museum
Email: wimbledonsewingmachinecoltd@btinternet.com
Telephone: 020 8767 0036

Have you ever been to a quirky or unique museum? Can you recommend any to me in London?

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© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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