Pillar of the community

William Davison poster
William Davison poster

A new exhibition will provide a unique glimpse into the social and economic life of Alnwick and its surrounding countryside in the first half of the 19th century.

Eye-catching printing proofs from the town’s former William Davison’s printing shop are to go on show at Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives, just outside Ashington.

Among the display will be copies of posters, flyers, advertisements and handbills.

Not only do they paint a picture of life in the Alnwick and the surrounding community but also vividly illustrate the development of more decorative advertising techniques at a time when the national economy was expanding.

It means the exhibition, which runs from May 25 to September 15, will be a must-see for design fans as well as history buffs.

Exhibition officer Liz Ritson said: “We believe William Davison was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in October 1780, the son of John Davison, a joiner.

“Around 1795, William was apprenticed to Mr Hind, a Newcastle chemist, moving to Alnwick in 1802 to establish his own pharmacy there.

“The following year he entered the first of two short-lived partnerships with local printers, but by 1808 he was a printer in his own right.

“He continued to trade in Alnwick as an apothecary, pharmacist and printer from his Bondgate premises until his death in 1858.”

Woodhorn houses around 4,500 printer’s proofs from William Davison’s printing shop, and the exhibition will give people the chance to see part of the collection.

Materials on display will include those promoting ale and tee-total activities, days out in Northumberland, exotic entertainments and animals, local traditions and feasts and news of tragedies.

The exhibition also includes a very small sample from the Davison Collection but more can be discovered through the Northumberland Archives’ online database.

The Davison Collection also features on the National Archives’ Access to Archives site.

People can also own a part of Davison’s work by purchasing a print or one of the unique Davison inspired gifts from Woodhorn’s gift shop.

For information, visit www.experiencewoodhorn.com