One of Northampton’s much-loved childhood mascots is coming out of hibernation to celebrate 150 years of history.
Alfie the Ape will be part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery which will be marked with an exhibition which opens this Saturday.
Alfie used to sit and swing in the window of the Gordon Scott store in Abington Street in the 1960s and was loved by everyone who saw him.
Alfie was later replaced by his younger brother Charlie the Chimp who continued to bring joy and happiness to Northampton shoppers during the 80s and 90s.
The shoe store in Northampton closed down in 2003 and it is believed Charlie moved to Gordon Scott in Watford a few years later.
Charlie was at the Harlequin shopping centre in Watford for seven years until Gordon Scott announced last year that Charlie ‘needed a rest’ and retired to a museum in Watford.
Alfie the Ape’s whereabouts had not been made public - until now.
A spokesman for the Northampton Museum & Art Gallery said: “Who remembers this little chap from their childhood shoe-shopping trips in Northampton?
“His name is Alfie and you may be surprised to learn that we have been looking after him in our stores all this time! He will be coming out of hibernation as part of our fascinating exhibition 150: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Northampton Museums & Art Gallery, which opens this Saturday.”
Celebrating 150 years of Northampton Museums & Art Gallery will showcase 150 objects which show the richness and diversity of the collections from 1865 to the present day and look to the future of the museum as it begins its new development.
The exhibition will celebrate the diversity of the museum’s collections and will feature well known objects that have been displayed at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and Abington Park Museum over the years, alongside some less well known.
Alongside Alfie the Ape, other highlights include a cobblestone thrown in Northampton’s election riot of 1874, Tête de Jeune Femme by Auguste Rodin, the original Kinky Boot which inspired the film and the ever popular elephant boot.
The exhibition is broken down into five sections:
- Foundation objects – some of the first objects donated to the museum, including the first shoe
- 1865 – 1914
- 1915 – 1964
- 1965 – 2015
- Recent acquisitions – objects donated to the museum in the last few months
The museum was founded on November 9 1865 when a committee was appointed to develop the museum. The museum opened its doors to the public on 6 August 1866 in two rooms at the back of The Guildhall. The museum was open for just 18 hours per week and attracted hundreds of visitors during its first few weeks.
In 1884, the museum moved to its current building on Guildhall Road. The library occupied the ground floor and the museum was housed on the top floor, in what is now the Shoe Town gallery. The library moved to its current home in Abington Street in 1910 and the museum then took over the whole building.
Councillor Brandon Eldred, cabinet member for community engagement, said: “The exhibition is a fantastic celebration of 150 years of Northampton’s Museums and Art Gallery and I do hope that as many people as possible will be able to come along and discover the gems that the museum has to offer. This is an exciting time for Northampton Museum and Art Gallery as it enters its new development stage which will see a major extension, doubling the size of the exhibition space and creating new galleries, teaching facilities and a retail area.”
Celebrating 150 Years of Northampton Museums & Art Gallery will run from Saturday August 1 until Sunday November 15. Entry is free.
For more information visit www.northampton.gov.uk/museumexhibitions
To read more about Charlie the Chimp and Alfie the Ape please click here Charlie the Chimp