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Visitor Numbers

September 23, 2009 Mary Greg 3 Comments

I’ve been going through the file of stuff that Melanie compiled for us and came across the visitor numbers again.  Did Mary have any objects in or connection with Heaton Hall prior to 1922?  It’s just that in 1921 the visitor numbers were 14,818 but in 1922 (the year Mary’s objects were accessioned) that figure rose to 125,688.  That’s an increase of 110,810 visitors in just one year! (Incidentally the visitor numbers thereafter are regularly over the 150,000 mark, peaking in 1933 at 181,017)   What was the cause of this extraordinary turn around?  Was it Mary’s involvement? A local cultural revolution?  Or is it a misprint?  It would be good to clarify this as it could be significant.  Sharon

Battle of the Gregs

August 3, 2009 The Collection Comments Off on Battle of the Gregs

In the archives I also found the annual reports which state visitor figures. It seems that Mary’s collections did eventually garner more interest than her late husband’s. However the Thomas Greg room at Mosley Street was by far their most popular room in the early to mid twenties. He was overtaken by Mary’s collections at Heaton and Platt. I’ve made a spreadsheet of the figures which unfortunately won’t fit on the blog so I am emailing it around. I got a bit involved and made a few graphs too! I’ve only gone up to 1934 as the Greg room at Mosley Street was disbanded and I’m only up to 1930 in the letters so I’m not sure if Mary’s collections change location in the later years yet.

Ps. In 1932-3 over 300,000 people saw items from the Greg’s collections at Mosley Street, Heaton and Platt. The Greg name must have been prominent in Manchester for art as well as industry.



Mary Greg letters

Mary Greg letters

I’ve been thinking a lot about value. It’s a common thread of discussion every time we meet. The value of the collection to Mary and the lack of value (or perceived lack of value) the collection has within the Art Gallery currently. I wondered if this was always the case. The letters certainly reveal that the collection was held in greater esteem in the 1920’s. It was considered worthy enough to house a permanent display at Heaton Hall. Bathos writes (9th Oct 1924)

“….your collection at Heaton Hall is still attracting thousands weekly. Up to date this year over 154,000 visitors have passed through the turnstiles.”

And again in 1925 (Aug 17th)

“…123,208 visitors to your exhibition of dolls at Heaton Hall this year.”

There was even a Royal visitor in May 1927!

“.. Princess Mary appreciated all that was shown her”.

Interestingly in June 1927 Bathos informs Mary that Heaton Hall had 16,000 visitors over Whitsun compared to the 14,000 at the City Art Gallery. 1-0 Mary!

If value were to be judged by visitor figures alone then this collection was significant. I also think there must be some value in further research into the visitor demographic and exhibition content held at different sites. Did one appeal more to the masses and why? Are there any other historic, statistical records held at the Gallery? When and why was the collection taken off display at Heaton Hall? Is that when it went into storage?