A new research project to uncover information about the lives of two working class Old Hill girls who were adopted by the well-to-do owner of Haden Hill House in the 1880s is under way. And local history buffs can watch online as the evidence unfolds and the project progresses over the coming months. Curator and visual artist Jo Loki intends to unravel the mystery surrounding Alice Cookin and Bertha Emma Bryant - dubbed Best's Angels for the project.
They were adopted in around 1882 into a new and exciting life of privilege and opportunity by George Alfred Haden-Best, who built the house in 1878.
Jo will be curating the project from a special evidence room at Haden Hill House as an 'installation in construction' - a space to assemble the evidence so far and revealing new material as its discovered.
Her investigation will continue while she occupies the room, using the space to build a three-dimensional story of the girls.
Jane Hanney, museum services manager, said: "The idea for the project came from the recent discovery of original glass-plate negatives which we bought at auction. The negatives reveal a more informal side of the girls' lives - picnics on the lawn, children playing and other holiday occasions."
Alison Hyatt, visitors services officer, said: "This is a perfect opportunity to examine these objects, research the girls and the family they were adopted into and we want to share this with the public."
Funding for Best's Angels has been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sandwell Museums Service and the Friends of Haden Hill House.
The project has an online resource for anyone wanting to follow its progress. And the museum is appealing to anyone with any information about Alice Cockin and Bertha Emma Bryant to contact them on 01384 569444.
The Evidence Room will be open to the public during normal museum opening times, details at www.sandwell.gov.uk/museums