There’s a chance to get up close and personal with Jumping Joe Darby’s belt with an informal talk at Dudley Museum during this month’s Black Country Festival.
The talk on Wednesday 18 July will focus on two of Joe’s belts, which are on loan from the Black Country Living Museum. They were specially cleaned when the wider collection relocated to its new home at the Dudley Archives in late 2017.
Thanks to the care taken over the cleaning and restoration of the belts, the metal now gleams and the delicate enamel miniature paintings which make up much of the decoration can be clearly seen.
Joe was renowned for his spring jumping, covering great heights and distances from a stationary position, often using weights in his hands to propel him. He began his career competitive jumping in the Midlands and North of England in the 1880s, before going on to perform at theatres in London and Paris and crossed the Atlantic to exhibit in North America, winning competitions and wagers on the way.
The hands-on talk will cover Joe’s early life and his extensive career. Lucky visitors will also get the chance to look at Joe’s belt out of its case.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise said:
The Treasures of the Museum talks give people a real insight into some of the lesser known, though no less valuable, pieces in our collection, including those items on loan.
Joe Darby’s belts are really striking, and his story is fascinating. This talk will allow people to get close to the belts, but also get a better understanding of this remarkable man, and one of our own sporting heroes.
Joe’s belts sit within the Dudley Heroes gallery which showcases the great and the good from the borough including scientists, artists, writers and sportspeople. Items on display include a range of footballing legend Duncan Edward’s shorts and caps and a complete Wimbledon kit on loan from tennis ace Jordanne Whiley.
The talk forms part of the Treasures of the Museum series which takes visitors on a journey through one item from the collection each month. They can find out about the history of a piece, the person who created or discovered an item, what it meant at the time and what we can learn from it today.
Talks start at 10.30am and 11.30am and are held in the education room. Each talk lasts approximately 30 minutes. There’s no need to book, all sessions are drop in.
While on site, visitors can look around the collection which includes geology, social history, glass, fine art and Dudley local heroes.