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The Novium Museum receives Arts Council England grant to tell the story of Shippams

The Novium Museum in Chichester has been awarded a grant of £44,593 from Arts Council England to unlock the advertising archive of the former local family-run business, Shippams, in an exciting new project which will culminate in an exhibition in 2025.

Shippams exhibition - novium museum

Established in 1786, Shippams was a beloved employer in Chichester, whose success and popularity spread worldwide. Through digitisation, oral histories, a public engagement programme and a headline exhibition, the project will explore how family and community shaped one of the best loved brands of the 20th century.

As well as being one of the leading businesses of its time to use television advertising, Shippams was also a prominent local asset, opening their doors to members of the community and providing rich engagement programmes for their staff and families. Employees often joined the company straight out of school and stayed for the duration of their working lives. One generation would follow another, their experience and knowledge being vital to the company's success.

1974 marked the end of an era for Shippams, when the former family run business was acquired by the William Underwood Company. Princes, who acquired the company in 2001, took the decision to close the East Street Walls factory, but the factory fa├žade and silver wishbone were retained and can still be seen to this day. 

The Novium Museum will work together with the local community to explore themes of community, family, sustainability, and identity within the company. The project will record oral histories with ex-employees, family members and the local community to share their lived experience.

Members of the public will also have the opportunity to be a part of the Shippams project, with the museum recruiting and working with local volunteers to catalogue, re-pack and digitise the Shippams collection, which consists of over 700 items from the company's iconic advertising archive, hundreds of photographs, ephemera and objects relating to life in the factory, and archaeology recovered from an excavation of the old factory site in 2005.

Councillor Jess Brown-Fuller, Cabinet Member for Culture and Events at Chichester District Council, says: "For many local Cicestrians, the memories of their time at Shippams are still held dear and we hope to capture these memories at the heart of the exhibition.

"This exciting project will provide local people with the opportunity to learn new skills, meet other members of the community, and to be part of a collaborative project to better understand the Shippams collection." 

The exhibition will anchor the important collection within the Chichester District's community. New research will be made available through a central hub that links the Shippams collections held at The Novium Museum, West Sussex Record Office, and Screen Archive Southeast.

Jim Shippam, former Chairman and Chief Executive of Shippams, says: "I am delighted that this project has been made possible, with thanks to the generous support from Arts Council England. Cataloguing and researching the Shippams advertising archive, alongside conducting an oral history project, will provide a valuable resource for the public and will ensure the unique story of Shippams is preserved for future generations."

A volunteer recruitment event will take place on Thursday 29 February from 10am to 12pm at The Novium Museum. This event is for anyone who wishes to find out more about the project and volunteering opportunities. For more information, or to register your interest, email thenovium@chichester.gov.uk or call 01243 775888.

More information about the history of Shippams can be read online on The Novium Museum's website (opens new window).

Date of Release: 12 January 2024                                                         

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