A new Museum in Street

We invite you to join us on an adventure!

Since the Trust opened our doors in 2012, we have given access to our remarkable collections through academic and research partnerships, exhibitions, and loans to other museums including the London Transport Museum and No.1 Royal Crescent, Bath. Our aim is to make the stories from our collections, both historical and contemporary, available to a much wider audience, by opening a museum and archive by 2025, creating a community venue and visitor experience to be enjoyed by one and all.

Initial plan for the new museum

In 2021 the Alfred Gillett Trust purchased the heritage collections of C & J Clark to ensure these important stories and objects are protected for generations to come. Ownership of the collection means that the Trust is finally able to pursue our plans for a new museum. Based at the Grange in the village of Street, where the Clarks story began, the Alfred Gillett Trust plans to convert the Grade II Listed site into Somerset’s newest visitor attraction. With a donation from the estate of Nathan Clark (the great-grandson of the co-founder, James Clark) and support from other Trusts, our plans are very much underway.

Surrounded by a stunning landscape, including a secret walled orchard, the visitor experience will include an education and learning space, a museum and archive, and a cafe and shop. The Alfred Gillett Trust intends to deliver an innovative hub for collections management and archive research, opening up this fascinating collection for all to access.

Award-winning architects, Purcell, have been appointed to work with the Trust to redevelop the Grade II Listed Grange site. QODA are appointed as design engineers and will help us to put in place environmental controls appropriate to a heritage building as well as working towards higher environmental standards, for the new museum build. Global construction consultants Currie and Brown, have been appointed as the Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor. Sought- after exhibition and interpretation planners, Nissen Richards Studio, are appointed to work with the Trust collections team to deliver an incredible exhibition journey, creating amazing spaces that are thought provoking and inspirational, as well as enjoyable, welcoming and fun.

The new build between the historic Grange manor house and the Barn will create a dynamic and engaging two-storey gallery space to house the heritage collections. We are still in the process of developing the stories you might want to hear and identifying the objects you might want to see and we have already begun talking to our communities to understand what this looks like to you. While still very much a work in progress, the intention is that the new build (the building in blue in the first image on this page) will house three galleries; Welcome to Street; Making Shoes and; Buying and Selling. The internationally significant geological collection of locally found ichthyosaur fossils will remain in their current location in the soon to be refurbished Barn and will be part of the new museum offer.

Welcome to Street

In this space, we will explore Street as a unique place of innovation, creativity and international connections.

We will celebrate the stories of Street and why our village is unique within our rural landscape. From the creation of a global shoemaking company that helped to shape the local area and connect us to the world to stories of education, suffrage, abolitionism and tales from our shared past which have helped to create the welcoming place we call home today – A small village with a big heart!

Making Shoes

This gallery will be influenced by the hustle and bustle of the factory, the movement of the machines and the people who worked there because this is a story about people and their lives as much as it will be about shoes! We plan to delve into the incredible work behind the making of a shoe and the people who made them and the their lives, from the days of Outworkers to the eventual mass roll-out of machines and the inventions that made these processes possible.

You may be invited to design your own shoe or try your hand at the dexterity boxes (training boxes in factories to test workers abilities) and you will meet some of the machines which made mass production viable and hear the stories of the people behind the brand who made it all possible.

Buying and Selling

We simply cannot have a new museum without a mass celebration of some of the incredible and awesome shoes we have in our collection, join us, spot your favourite and then learn about the early days of shoe selling before shops. We plan to re-create three different shoe shops from different eras. Immerse yourself in the design and feel of the shops and meet the people who worked and shopped in them. Pull open a drawer, open a shoe box, discover objects and even play dress up.

Come and play with us as we look at ickle first shoes, school shoes and how advertising changed for all ages. Imagine and hear from voices around the world as our global communities tell their own tales from Clarks In Jamaica to Japan.

Ancient Underwater World

Beneath our Feet…..We will celebrate this internationally renowned collection of marine reptile fossils in the very place they were found – Street! Discover the icthyosaurs as living creatures and the world they inhabited in Jurassic Somerset over 200-million years ago.

The collection of marine reptiles amassed by the Victorian enthusiast Alfred Gillett (1814-1904) includes eighteen near-complete Ichthyosaurs, a plesiosaur and over 180 smaller specimens. It represents the once prolific fossil locality of the Blue Lias quarries of Street, Somerset, now closed and back-filled and rivals the major collections at the Natural History Museum and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

How to Get Involved

The Alfred Gillett Trust is inviting you to have your say in what the new museum and archive will be like and how it is developed. Please complete the survey below to add your views and contact us if you would like to be involved in a focus group.

We would also encourage you to sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date on news about the project and different ways to get involved. You can also follow us on any of our socials which you can join from the home page of the website.

Design concept for how the new museum could look