Amelia Oldroyd was an intrepid Victorian explorer who helped bring ancient Egyptian artefacts back to the people of Dewsbury – artefacts that are now in the collections of Kirklees Museums and Galleries.
Born in the 1850s into a wealthy mill-owning family in Hanging Heaton, Amelia took full advantage of the opportunities her background afforded her, for both personal and public benefit.
She travelled to Egypt and became a good friend of the pioneering Egyptologist Sir William Flinders Petrie. As secretary of the Dewsbury branch of the Egypt Exploration Fund, she used her contacts and influence to collect subscriptions and support excavations so that hundreds of artefacts were sent to Dewsbury Museum.
Now Amelia is to feature in a Radio 3 documentary that looks at the lives of three Northern women who travelled to Egypt and brought treasures back to their home towns. Victorian Queens of Ancient Egypt is presented by Samira Ahmed, who explores the connection between ancient Egypt and the Victorian heyday of Britain’s industrial north by following in the footsteps of these extraordinary women.
Kirklees Council curator Katina Bill also features in the programme. Katina said: “We owe a great debt to Amelia and her work to bring Egyptian artefacts to her home town. Without her, Bagshaw Museum would not have its stunning Kingdom of Osiris gallery filled with mummy masks, Egyptian jewellery and mystical amulets which have been enjoyed by generations of local people.”
Victorian Queens of Ancient Egypt is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday February 3rd at 6.45pm and will be available on BBC Sounds afterwards. Bagshaw Museum is open every Saturday and Sunday, and Tuesdays-Thursdays in school holidays, 12noon-4pm.