“A thoroughly charming and highly skilled man”

Moths in a drawer made by Brian Edmondson
Moths in a drawer made by Brian Edmondson

At the beginning of the month we heard about the sad death of Brian Edmondson. Brian was a carpenter and ran his own business in Oxford for 42 years. Although many of the staff in the Museum may never have heard Mr Edmondson’s name before, they certainly know his work.

Brian Edmondson Credit: Oxford Mail
Brian Edmondson
Credit: Oxford Mail

Thirty years ago, the Museum’s Hope Entomological Collections started an enormous project to ‘rehouse’ their millions of specimens, moving them from substandard storage boxes to proper glazed drawers. Brian and his team beautifully crafted a huge number of drawers to hold the specimens and made them to satisfy the Museum’s exacting demands for design and build quality. For example, it was essential that they were airtight to prevent any pests (larvae of the museum beetle) getting in.

Dr George McGavin, television presenter and Honorary Research Associate of the Museum, remembers working alongside Brian on this project.

Dr George McGavin
Dr George McGavin

“Brian Edmondson was a thoroughly charming and highly skilled man. His workshop was on the Abingdon Road in Oxford and every so often a truck would arrive and teams of us would carry hundreds of drawers all the way up to the attic floor of the museum (there was no lift in those days!). Brian was a true professional and led a team of first rate craftsmen – the drawers were so well made you could often swap lids from one drawer to another and they still fitted.”

The drawers that Brian designed are still in use today and hold millions of insects in the Museum’s collection. Each time a drawer is pulled out and its contents admired or inspected, we mustn’t forget to pause and appreciate the craftsmanship that went into creating the specimens’ bespoke home.

Rachel Parle, Interpretation and Education Officer

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