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New addition to John Walker Collection at Preston Park Museum

Thursday, January 29, 2015


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Preston Park Museum is celebrating the arrival of a new artefact belonging to friction match inventor, John Walker.

A set of apothecary scales has been acquired for the Museum's collection from descendants of Mr Walker, siblings Benedict, Anya and Jonathan Noakes.

One of Stockton's most famous sons, John Walker invented the friction match in 1826 and traded as a chemist in Stockton from 1819.

It is believed that he may have used the balance to weigh out the correct quantities of sulphur, sulphide of antimony, gum and chlorate of potash to create the first matchsticks.

The balance has been passed down to Benedict Noakes from his great-great-grandfather, who was the nephew of Mr Walker. The object was loaned to the Fire Making Gallery of the Science Museum, London in 1962 but in recent years it had not been on display.

The family arranged for its return in 2014 and it was offered to Preston Park Museum by Benedict Noakes.
His sister, Anya, travelled to Preston Park Museum from London yesterday (Wednesday 28 January) to officially hand the scales over to the expert care of Preston Hall's Collections Officer, Christine Hutchinson.

Councillor Ken Dixon, Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, said: "It is always exciting to acquire a new item at the Museum, particularly one with such close ties to the Borough. John Walker is such a major part of Stockton's heritage and the wonderful addition of the apothecary scales really help bring the story of his friction match invention to life."

Stockton Council purchased the scales using money from the Spence Fund of the Spence Bequest.

They will be displayed with the Museum's John Walker collection later in the year.

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