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Russell Frears died 2010

Russell Frears

Russell Frears (picture taken in 1977)
After a long illness Russell Frears, founder of the Museum of Bath at Work and Secretary of the Bath Industrial Heritage Trust has died. Russell Frears, who was born in Leicester and had trained as an industrial designer, had worked in the United States in the early 1960s for two well known design practices – Elliot Noyes and the Eames Office. Both Charles and Ray Eames, who worked closely with Herman Miller on the design and production of office and domestic furniture, became close friends with Russell and his wife Barbara and visited Bath after Russell returned to England in 1968. In 1969 Russell became involved in the saving of the Bowler family business in central Bath and with support from Neil Cossons, Keeper of Technology at Bristol City Museum at the time, the collection of machinery, tools, bottles and documents was moved from the original factory premises into store. The intention had always been to display the objects at some point but it was not until 1976 that a charitable trust was formed, with Kenneth Hudson and Dr Marianna Clark and negotiation began with Bath City Council over the use of the former Real Tennis Court in Morford Street, Bath. Finally in 1978, what was at that time, The Camden Works Museum was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester and the interiors of the Bowler factory we displayed, lovingly recreating the ambience of the cluttered workshops of the original Corn Street Works. Other exhibitions followed, all designed and executed by Russell, often with the help of his wife. These included the Horstmann Gallery, in 1999 and the 2000 Years of Earning a Living Gallery, in 2003. Tragically, only shortly before his own death, Russell’s wife Barbara and one of their three daughters, Frances both died.