George A. Booth, an iron founder from Preston, gathered an extensive collection of taxidermied birds and mammals over a period of thirty years. After his death in August 1924 they were purchased for Towneley Hall with money from the Stocks Massey Bequest. The collection focused on unusual varieties of common British or European birds, often comparing a typical specimen against an unusual variety of the same species. Many are birds of atypical colouring - described in a local newspaper at the time as “freak birds” - including several completely white blackbirds and skylarks, known as leucistic specimens.
There had been a small display of natural history specimens at Towneley since 1903 but the large size of the Booth Collection required the opening of more rooms on the ground floor of the North wing. Containing over 150 varieties of birds across 300 specimens, the 143 cases of Booth’s collection displayed birds in sculpted dioramas representing their natural habitat. A short catalogue was published in 1925 and its contents can be downloaded as a pdf from www.atoz.myzen.co.uk/museum/downloads.
In 1977, what remained of the collection was recorded on index cards using the prefix AVE for a new labelling system. Rather than adding the entries to the accession register, the 1938 catalogue md7a was annotated using red ink (pages 6-11).