New exhibition! The Story of the Rugby League World Cup

In 1954, the first ever Rugby League World Cup was treated with consternation by most British fans. The GB team wasn’t expected to do well, and people weren’t really sure why it was taking place. Extraordinarily, the team came together, captained in style by Dave Valentine, and won the tournament.

Fast forward to 2022, and the staging of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup: we see something very different. The tournament is big and high-profile. Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair games will all be broadcast live. All players will receive equal participation fees. The tournament which started with only four nations has expanded to include 20. Heritage Quay’s new exhibition, The Story of the Rugby League World Cup, tells the story of how this happened.

We are extremely proud to look after the national Rugby Football League archive here at Heritage Quay. This autumn’s tournament has allowed us to explore the collection in a new light, focusing the experiences of those playing in, organising and watching Rugby League World Cups. Many items are on display for the first time, and highlight teams and players from the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair games. A programme and scarf from Papua New Guinea’s first World Cup appearance in 1987 tells a story both about the rise of Pacific nations in global Rugby League and about the place of League as PNG’s national sport. A runner’s up medal from the 2000 Women’s World Cup is shown alongside a fundraising event ticket. This speaks to the extraordinary dedication, as well as sporting skill, of the Great Britain Women’s team, who had to fund their own participation in international tournaments. A Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby League t-shirt shows how the Wheelchair game has exploded onto the international stage since its development in 2004.

You can learn about some extraordinary people, too: Clive Sullivan, the first Black person to captain any Great Britain sporting team, who led GB to World Cup victory in 1972; Jackie Sheldon, former Head Coach of the GB Women, whose passion and talent has done so much for the Women’s game; Martin Norris, who captained Great Britain’s Wheelchair team in the inaugural Wheelchair World Cup in 2008, and has gone on to be an important advocate for the sport.

Whether you are a die-hard Rugby League fan, or you want to find out more about the tournament, come and visit Heritage Quay for The Story of the Rugby League World Cup.

The exhibition is open 7 days a week until 22 December 2022.

Mark and Ted: Exploring the Mark Hinchliffe Ted Hughes Collection

There is a jaguaStatue of a jaguar on a glass shelf in a display case. The jaguar is roaring at the ground. It is black glazed ceramic, and is reflected in the glass shelf. The lighting casts a shadow on the back of the display case. r prowling in one of the display cases at Heritage Quay. Although only 15cm long, with its taut muscles and mouth open in a roar it demands attention. Made by one-time Poet Laureate Ted Hughes (1930-1998) it is clearly the result of close observation of the natural world, and important as the only known surviving example of sculpture by the poet.

This is only one of many objects now on display as part of Heritage Quay’s latest exhibition,

Overview of a display case. On the top shelf is a small statue of a jaguar and a handwritten letter. On the middle shelf are two books, one closed to show the front cover which is blue, with an inset a circle made out of cork, the other open on foam supports to show printed endpapers which are blue with a repeated white and red swirl pattern. On the bottom shelf is a wooden type tray, a metal tool and some small booklets of paper samples in different colours

‘Mark and Ted: Exploring the Mark Hinchliffe Ted Hughes Collection’.

Bringing together pens and paper samples, books and badger bristles, photographs and feathers, the exhibition celebrates one of Heritage Quay’s most important recent acquisitions. The collection was formed by Mark Hinchliffe, a poet and friend of Ted Hughes.

Overview of a display case, showing a Mont Blanc pen in its case, a manuscript draft of Ted Hughes' Orpheus and Eurydice, and black and white photograph of Ted Hughes speaking at a lectern

The exhibition includes first edition, fine press and limited edition published works, many of which have been signed by Hughes. There are photographs of Hughes and his family, some previously unrecorded, and correspondence between Hughes and Hinchliffe. Not limited to paper objects, there are tools relating to the family-run Morrigu Press, sherry from Hughes’ time as Laureate, and even one of Hughes’ Mont Blanc pens.

As well as offering unique material relating to the life of one of the twentieth century’s major poets, the exhibition also shows us something of how Hinchliffe engaged with Hughes’ work. Through his annotations, or the newspaper clippings, plant and animal matter, postcards, letters and programmes tucked into the books, we see a dedicated reader in action.Overview of a display case, containing letters and printed books. There are three books, displayed open, and two sets of letters. The letters are mostly displayed in their envelopes, with two open to show the contents.

Exhibition open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 10am-4pm. Exhibition closes October 2022.