The Social History Collections aim to document the social and economical history of the city of Worcester and the county of Worcestershire.

Both the Worcester City collection and the Worcestershire County collections have been actively collected since the late 1960s. Items in the collection are mainly donated by local people, and each object is collected not just for its own sake but because of its connection to Worcestershire and its people.

Objects added to the social history collection tell the stories of local events, the development of local industries, trades and crafts, leisure activities, living conditions, social structures, customs and beliefs or local personalities.

The main categories in the collection are:

  • Agriculture and Horticulture
  • Childhood
  • Commerce
  • Costume and Textiles
  • Domestic History
  • Ephemera
  • Military and Wartime
  • Music
  • Numismatics
  • Oral and Video Histories
  • Science and Industry
  • Transport

Agriculture and Horticulture

Items reflecting Worcestershire’s importance as a large agricultural community. Amongst the best objects are items relating to hop production and the Tickenhill Collection of rural studies that founded the Worcestershire County collection.


Objects which represent the various stages of children’s lives and education in Worcester. Amongst the best: Items from Worcestershire schools, including a rocking horse from St Clement’s School, toys and games, dolls and dolls’ house furniture.


Items relating to Worcestershire shops and shopping. Amongst the best: Shop fittings, measures, tins, packets and containers.

Costume and Textiles

Items of clothing and accessories as worn or made by Worcestershire people. The county collection is of regional significance, with items dating from the 17th century.

Domestic History

Objects from Worcestershire homes or belonging to Worcestershire people which reflect the everyday life of cooking, cleaning and furnishing a home. Amongst the best: Vacuum cleaners, irons and early electrical appliances including a 1920s washing machine in working order.


Paper items relating to Worcester history Amongst the best – local election posters from the 19th century, theatre posters, advertising, local postcards, leaflets, posters, greeting cards.


A small collection of musical items. Amongst the best; Violin made by Worcester Violin Maker Henry Handley, pianola, phonograph, polyphon, gramophones and records.


Coins, tokens and medals, some relating to Worcestershire, but most showing the development of coinage in Britain. Amongst the best – local tokens including the Cotton collection, Anglo-Saxon and Norman Worcester mint coins, De Saulle medal collection, historical electrotypes. Within the archaeology collection are significant hoards including the Bredon Hill Roman Coin Hoard.

Oral and Video Histories

Taped interviews of Worcester people on subjects relating to recent exhibitions, along with the Millennium Memories project – taped interviews of local people, recording their lives and memories of Worcester.


Large collection of photographs of local people and local scenes, either taken by local people or local professional photographers.

Science and Industry

Objects representing the many industries from Worcestershire’s past as well as scientific equipment used in Worcester.

Worcestershire Sauce manufacturing, including ephemera, bottles and machinery.
Items made by the Bromsgrove Guild, most famous as the makers of Buckingham Palace’s gates. The Bromsgrove Guild began in the late 19th century as an Arts & Crafts movement group. They manufactured objects in many media – metal, wood, plaster, bronze, tapestry and glass. The Guild survived until the early 1960s – far longer than other Arts & Crafts companies such as that of William Morris.

Pharmacy and items relating to Worcester Chemist shops, in particular Stewards Chemist Shop. The fixtures, fittings and contents of this Victorian Chemist shop are on display in The City Art Gallery & Museum.


Items relating to Worcestershire Transport such as agricultural transport, transport on the canal and trams. Worcestershire County collection has a nationally significant collection of Gypsy caravans.