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Geology Collections

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Geology has been a main part of the museum collection from its inception in 1796 as a commercial venture by local collector William Todhunter. The tuned lithophones survive from Todhunter's original collection and can be played in our galleries today.

In our two geology rooms, the collections on display include a wealth of fossils, local shales, flags, grits and slates, and many local minerals and rock types.

In the Sedgwick and Ruthven Room you can follow an illustrated geological history of the Lake District, beginning 520 million years ago, through all the major geological periods to the present day. Reverend Professor Adam Sedgwick and his companion John Ruthven are highlighted as notable collectors of geology at the museum. We have continued to collect geology at Kendal Museum with the recent acquisitions of the John Hamer collection in 2004 and the Bill Shaw collection in 2012. 

John Hamer Collection

The late John Hamer of Ingleton was a potholer and mineral collector who lived to be over 90. During his long but reclusive life he collected one of the most superb and extensive mineral collections known in the North of England. The total collection exceeds 2000 specimens and includes beautiful ruby crystals from Myanmar and spectacular tourmaline crystals embedded in quartz from Brazil which can be viewed in our World Wildlife Gallery. Perhaps the most important specimens are those collected from long disused mines in the Lake District and other regions of northern England, where mineral collecting is now banned. John Hamer rescued superb irreplaceable specimens from these sites which provides a valuable resource for researchers and geology enthusiasts alike.

Bill Shaw Mineral Collection

Bill Shaw was a mining entrepreneur descended from five generations of miners. He grew up in Coniston starting his first job in his father’s quarry. After qualifying as a mining engineer, Shaw worked in several mines in the Lake District. During his long career, he collected many fine and rare specimens including important copper minerals from Coniston copper mine and rare minerals from Fleetwith mine including brilliant blue Azurite and Hornblende. Kendal Museum purchased the Shaw mineral collection in 2012 using an Arts Council grant when the Keswick Mining Museum was closing.

Both the Hamer and Shaw collections are available to view in the gallery as well as on Kendal Museum's digital library

Please see the Cumbria GeoConservation Group and the Westmorland Geological Society if you are interested in getting involved with local geology events.

Kendal Museum would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Curry Fund of the Geologists’ Association in providing display cases for our geology collection.