Metal Box Exhibition - Mansfield Museum

This new temporary exhibition is by way of being the Museum’s homage to a company which has contributed an incalculable amount to the life of the town for over a century and a half.

As part of our efforts to preserve the town’s Metal Box heritage, we have assembled hundreds of examples of colourful tin-ware from all periods of the Rock Valley factory’s production life. Many of these are only recently acquired, the majority at auction on the closing of the original factory in 2010, and are on display for the first time.

These are complemented by scores of other evocative artefacts, including a substantial collection of original artwork. This, aesthetic, side of the exhibition undoubtedly provides a rare visual treat for even the most casual visitor.

The story of Metal Box, however, is not contained solely in its decorative products, no matter how impressive. For the story of the factory is also the story of the thousands of local people who worked there. And not just worked but played, making full use of the copious social and sporting facilities provided by this enlightened employer.

To this end, the exhibition contains a range of photographic images which we hope will capture something of the human ‘feel’ of the now-demolished factory.

As well as having access to this unprecedented collection of Metal Box objects, visitors are able to watch a slide-show of images of the old factory, supported by fascinating commentary from knowledgeable ex-staff. Also helping expand the exhibition’s scope are audio recordings of ex-employees’ anecdotes, reminiscences and insider information, much of it garnered during the highly successful Memory Day held at Leeming Street in September 2010. (Topics range from apprenticeships and social events to ghosts!)

Whether you are a current or ex-employee, therefore, or simply someone who takes pleasure in contemplating beautiful, functional objects, we feel sure you will find much that is memorable in our modest appreciation of a much-missed part of the local scene.

This web page shows photographs in the week from Monday 26th September when the exhibition was being prepared to Saturday 1st October when it was opened by Mansfield’s Executive Mayor Tony Egginton. Photographs taken by Malcolm & pauline Marples

A Metal Box audio slideshow can be found on the following,

Museum education room with tables waiting for tins to be brought from the storerooms.
Putting labels on some of the loaned items.
More tins being put ready for washing.
Washing & drying the tins.
Tins being organised into sections.
Everywhere you look there are tins.
Museum gallery being prepared for the exhibition.
Saturday October 1st 11am - Preparing to cut the ribbon
Posing for the BBC and CHAD photographer's
The opening speech.
Enter the crowds.
And still they come!
People looking and talking.
Plenty to talk about!
Bending down to look and talk.
Memories for two elderly ladies who worked at Metal Box.
Pointing to 'memories'.
So much to see.
Looking at the photo's.
Plenty to talk about.
It all brings back memories.
Alan Plowright & Alan Atkins who produced a book on the history of the factory.
BBC camerman in action.
Alan talking to the BBC.
Alan talking to the BBC.
On your knees looking at the photo's.
Talking about the days of tin making.
There is so much to look at!
Time to watch the video.
Now I remember those!
Football memories.
The former Metal Box building.
Thank You
Where to discover more.

Comments about this page

  • I worked at Metal Box in the 70s for a number of years, as did my sister. I worked as a blanker on the Tom Thom line, my uncle who went to work there was Maurice Campion. Also on that floor was Cyril Repton, Fred Penny, Reg England, plus Lol Brown and some I have forgotten, they were the line engineers, great times.
    Some of the women on the presses were Kath Williams, Denise, Jackie, Pauline, plus more I have forgotten,
    Great times, thanks all

    By Patricia Davies/Campion (27/03/2022)
  • I am writing a family history and trying to add interesting bits about my family’s history. I’ve enjoyed the story about Barringers as my mother and aunt both worked there before they were married. I would have loved to look at the old pictures to see if they were in any of them. On a visit to Mansfield ( I now live in Canada) I tried to find info about Barringers but had no luck. This will add some interest to my story. My mother’s name was Madeleine MOULT nee MASSOT. My aunt was Kathleen MOULT. Both lovely ladies. This is a wonderful site and has added a lot to my story.

    By marie mitchell (23/12/2016)
  • This is a wonderful & most interesting site nice to see the preservation of so many tin ware items associated with BW&M manufacturing I have 4 tins ( 2 small & 2 Large) from KG V / Queen Mary Silver Jubilee 1910 – 35, I would like to know more about about the design ~ large one has no.16648 & small one has no.16791 Were these registered with patent office? both designs are same however they have two different numbers They could be catalog numbers ~ one is 16.5 x 11 x 8.5cm the other is 13.5 x 8.5 x 6.8cm Any information would be appreciated I am located in Toronto     

    By Don Hedger (08/02/2015)
  • I was a photographer with the Metal Box Film Unit based at Alperton and Reading Head Office from 05/76 to 03/81. Visited Mansfield occasionally in addition to all the factories for stills and filming. I count it a privilege to have worked with so many talented people. I had some great experiences at Reading and can remember many amusing events both there and on location. One example, after Reading HO was completed the senior management in their wisdom wanted to play down the facilities that were available to HO staff such as the squash court’s, swimming pool and staff bar so as not to “stir Up” any possible unrest in the factories, in particular at Neath, the word NEATH, was guaranteed to get a reaction from the forth floor, fear usually and when on location at Neath care was taken not to treed on any toes, that said Neath and all the factories did everything they could to help you and I along with many others can see why it is we have such fond memories of working for “The Box”, it was all about the people and what a great bunch we all were.

    By Colin Hemsworth (23/07/2012)

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