Local Look

Local Look made its home in the Seely Hall for the month of August in 1965 and returned every summer for 25 years. It was a very popular event with people coming from all over the Island to see it and is still talked about and remembered today. Local Look was initially set up by members of the Island’s Natural History Society with the aim of having a permanent natural history museum.

Oliver Frazer, President of the Society, and his wife Dorothy, became the driving force behind the exhibition which was first staged in 1961 in Newport. Oliver had been charged with putting together a display which was cheap, highly adaptable and mobile. In the beginning it consisted of static displays of the geology, fauna and flora of the Island but as time went by it became more ambitious and included living creatures.

In 1981 it became illegal to have captive specimens, but many remember the adder who produced a family on 15th August 1967. As Oliver Fraser described the event: Parturition was a lengthy process, lasting for most of the day and a ten year old visitor, much to the concern of his distraught parents, was determined to see the process through to the end. He corrrectly counted eleven youngsters and was eventually restored to his parents declaring that it had been the best day of his life.

There were also grass snakes, lizards, slow worms and toads on display, creatures that many visitors from the towns had never seen before. People brought various things to be identified and displayed.

A different theme was chosen each year. In 1969 it was ‘Woodland’ in honour of the Jubilee of the Forestry Commission. Other themes included ‘Shapes and Patterns’ and ‘At the Water’s Edge’.  

The exhibition made a big impression on a young Renella Phillips (Humber) see below: Because Mum had a cleaning job at the Seely Hall, I was able to go with her in the school holidays and have a ‘private viewing’. My favourite things were always the live exhibits – snakes, tadpoles, newts, butterflies and moth caterpillars and so on, kept in glass tanks. The hall was also full of information boards and photos, stuffed birds and animals. As a child, it seemed very impressive. One year, Mr Frazer came to thank my mother for her work at the Hall and gave me a book about natural history which I kept for many years.

Brook people were more than happy to have this event in their village and it put Brook well and truly on the map.