The Collectors
Their Stories
a Synopsis

Bill Shaw

Bill Shaw


Bill Shaw was a great mining entrepreneur descended from five generations of miners. He worked in numerous mines in the Lake District, including Hartsop Hall, Greenside, Force Crag, Coniston, Potts Gill and Sandbeds to name a few.
He grew up in Coniston starting his first job as a young boy, in his father’s quarry. In 1925 he studied at the Glasgow Mining office for four years, he then returned to the Lakes working in Greenside mine as an apprentice, eventually leaving as a qualified mining engineer. He went on to work at Halkyn mine in North Wales and Levant mine in Cornwall. He returned to the lakes in 1958, where he managed Sandbeds and Potts Gill Baryte mines on the Caldbeck Fells. He retired to Keswick and died in 1978. During his long career in mining he collected many fine and rare mineral specimens.
The collection at Kendal museum includes important copper minerals from Coniston copper mine. Rare minerals from Fleetwith mine including brilliant blue Azurite and Hornblende.

Joseph Antony Martindale

Joseph Antony Martindale


Joseph Antony Martindale was born on the 19th July 1837 in Weardale, County Durham; he was the eldest of seven children. Martindale was a keen scientist from a young age, he was a bright child at just 7 years old he was awarded a prize for chemistry. He followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a pupil teacher when he was 13 years old. Martindale wanted to study Botany at university but his father’s premature death prevented him from attending, instead he pursued a career as a teacher. He trained at St. John’s training college Battersea in 1857. He was the school master at Staveley Westmorland from 1859 to 1902.

Family man

He married Mary Ann a fellow teacher in 1861 at Kendal parish church. They had eight children together, many became teachers. Their eldest son George shared his father’s botanical interests; he accompanied his father on collecting trips and published papers in his own right. Mary Ann died at the relatively young age of 53, in 1890. Martindale married Emily Ruthven at Windermere parish church on the 27th of December 1894. They had one child together who died in 1924 from injuries sustained during WW1.

A man of many talents
As well as botany Martindale was interested in archaeology, geology and local history. He was fluent in German and French; he also learnt Latin, Norwegian and Icelandic languages. He enjoyed music, he was the church organist and he started choral singing in school and church.

Martindale also pursued his interest in botany; his main interests were flowering plants and lichens. He went to great lengths to collect and identity species from Cumbria. Martindale was an honoury curator of botany at Kendal museum and was the president of Kendal Natural History Society. The Martindale collection is very important for scientists today as it provides a snap shot in time of plants found in Cumbria, many species in the collection are now very rare or have become extinct.

John Hamer

John Hamer


John Hamer was a dedicated mineral collector; almost every room in his house was full to the brim with shelves and cabinets containing over two thousand mineral specimens. Hamer was a reclusive character and his extensive collection was only discovered and rescued after his death. Potholing and mineral collecting was obviously John Hamer’s lifetime passion, he hailed from Ingleton and over his lifetime he collected many fine mineral specimens from Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

Minerals from Barrow to Brazil
Mineral collecting is now banned at many Cumbrian mines; the Hamer collection contains many finely preserved specimens. By collecting minerals Hamer saved them from the negative effects of weather damage. The collection also contains spectacular crystals from around the world including Brazil, India and Mexico.

Hamer the artist and story teller
John Hamer kept meticulous records of his collection, in one of his personal notebooks ‘A compendium of rocks’ he wrote detailed descriptions of minerals and mines, including hand draw maps. As well as being a keen geologist and scientist Hamer was a very creative person he found inspiration from beautiful scenery in the Lake District and North Yorkshire. He wrote poems about Ingleborough, which he described as Yorkshires most beautiful mountain. He also wrote short stories including the perhaps autobiographical story featuring Tommy and Flash the sheep dog helping to find lost sheep in a pot hole pitted moor.

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