Match facts: Stories fact and friction, er fiction, about the Stockton inventor of the friction match told in new exhibition

John Sadler as friction match John Walker at Preston Park Museum.

John Sadler in character as John Walker

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

AN EXHIBITION about Stockton’s most famous inventor has opened at Preston Park Museum in nearby Eaglescliffe.

The story of Stockton chemist, John Walker, who invented the modern friction match, is on display.

The exhibition is based on Sara Maitland’s book Instant Light, a mythical tale about Walker and his invention.

Visitors can learn about both the mythical story in the book, and the real history of the invention in the new exhibition, which will be displayed in an old-fashioned market stall. There will also be a chance to meet the John Walker character on Saturdays, May 10, 17 and 24.

Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Ken Dixon, said: “The Instant Light story brings to life Stockton’s involvement in the invention of the friction match. It really captures the imagination, weaving a fictional tale of a relationship between Walker and a visiting circus performer, with the true story of Walker’s world changing invention.”

The exhibition will be at Preston Park until Sunday, June 1 and will then be on display in the Rediscover Stockton Shop on Stockton High Street. Copies of Instant Light are available for £5 from both the Rediscover Stockton Shop or from Preston Park. The book which was launched by Stockton Council last August is illustrated by Robert Dunn.


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