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  • Frequently asked questions

  • How can I search the collection?

    Select the 'Search collections' tab, and choose either 'Archives', 'Objects' or 'Photographs'. The selected collection will appear. Enter your search into the 'Search ...' box on the left of the screen. You can show the results as small images, large images, or details, by choosing from the side menu on the left of the screen.

    Enter a new search to clear the current selection, or start again from the 'Search collections' tab.

    Click on a small image to view it as a large image popup.

    Why is the description short?

    We are at the early stages of a project to fully document the collection, something which has never been done with this material before. At the moment our focus is on cataloguing as many objects as possible which is why there is not yet a lot of detail.

    I've seen a description that is wrong

    If we have made a mistake in the catalogue, please accept our apologies. The catalogue project is in its early stages so please let us know the error and we'll put it right as soon as we can. Click on the 'Contact' tab.

    I know more about an object! Are you interested?

    We are always delighted to hear more about objects and we are actively seeking memories photographs and stories about our collection. Please do contact us, quoting the identification number of the object (e.g. 2013.11) in your message so that we can add your story to the catalogue. Click on the 'Contact' tab to send us your information.

    How did you build up the collection?

    The core of the collection was given by people working for us on the electricity network. Most of it was gathered when our predecessor organisation, the Southern Electricity Board, later Southern Electric, set up a museum in Christchurch in 1983. Some older items were given by the Electricity Council (1957) and its predecessors. Other items have been generously donated by members of the public over the last 30 years.

    Where is the collection?

    Most of the collection is stored at a secure SSE site in Christchurch, UK. This is not currently open to the public.

    What happened to the Museum of Electricity? Will it reopen?

    The Museum of Electricity has now closed. We have no plans to reopen it in its previous form. However, we are working on new ways to share the collection more widely across the UK. We will announce these as soon as arrangements are in place.

    Can I see the collection?

    We're working on new collection access arrangements, and this may take a while. We will do our best to allow researchers limited access if possible for the time being, pending arrangements in future. Contact us via heritage@sse.com if you want to undertake research.

    Is the collection at risk? What will happen to it in future?

    The collection is not at risk. SSE is exploring new ways for people to enjoy it following the closure of our previous Museum of Electricity. The objects which we care for remain under our care and that of qualified museum professionals. We are working voluntarily under the guidance of the Museums Association code of ethics and will keep people informed about any future changes and developments. We will also advertise any future collections management activity in Museums Journal and online.

    Can I give you something for the collection?

    We are working on how we develop the collection in future and this work is in progress. So, at the moment, we're not taking in any new donations. However we will gladly keep a note of offers for when we restart collecting. If you'd like to offer an object on these terms, send us an e-mail. It should have 3 photographs of the object you would like to donate along with your full address and phone number plus information about the size and weight of the object.

    Would you like my old appliances?

    Sorry, but probably not. We are not looking to collect any more examples of objects we already hold: so if you've seen something in the catalogue we will not want another one unless yours has a truly remarkable story attached to it, backed up by relevant photographs.

    What are you seeking to collect in future?

    We will only collect objects which are different from ones we already have. Things with personal stories and photos linked to them are of particular interest to us. The period 1960-2000 will be our main focus for new collecting objects that also have strong provenance and human interest.

    I gave something to the old museum. Can I have it back?

    Sorry, but for our main catalogued collection, no. In common with normal practice in all UK museums, donations and gifts to the former Museum of Electricity were permanent and absolute. Conditional gifts were not accepted. Unless you have written evidence that the item you gave to the museum was a loan and not a donation, or was given with preconditions officially agreed and preserved in writing, we regret that it cannot be returned. However, outside our main collection we have some duplicate un-catalogued items collected over the years for spares or intended restoration. We intend to offer these to other museums and community groups. Only when we are sure they hold no heritage value will the remainder be disposed of and at this stage we'd be happy to offer items to their donors. Please contact us as if you think this applies to you. We intend to donate and dispose of this duplicate material collection within the next year, guided by the Museums Association Code of Ethics.

    How can I contact someone to ask more?

    Please use heritage@sse.com.

    You can write to us at:

    SSE Heritage
    Community Development Team
    SSE Corporate Affairs
    Inveralmond House
    200 Dunkeld Road
    PH1 3AQ