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Gordon Holme with part of the collection at his museum. SUR
A vast collection of global history in the Granada mountains

A vast collection of global history in the Granada mountains

Gordon Holme has been collecting artefacts since he was six and started working on his plan to open a museum during the pandemic

Friday, 1 September 2023, 16:20

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Gordon Holme has recently opened the Museo de Gordon – a collection of "social history" artefacts that he has collected since he was six years old.

It was during the first lockdown that Gordon, 77, decided he needed to do something with the vast collection of historical objects that he'd amassed over the years. "We hardly left the village during the lockdown so I decided to do something more with the collection, a lot of which was stacked in boxes. It was a way of keeping myself busy."

He says that some of the items in his collection were given to him by family and friends: "I have been a collector of just about everything since I was aged six"; and there are other things that he's collected on his travels. Gordon has been an antiques dealer so a lot of the items came to him that way but he also admits to "spending a lot of time hanging around junk shops".

The museum houses everything from prehistoric stone tools to civilian and military clothing from the 1800s to the 1970s. "I have no way of having this confirmed, but one lady once gave me a suitcase full of clothes that had belonged to her grandmother, who had been a maid to one of the Brontë sisters and the clothing in the suitcase supposedly belonged to one of them," Gordon details. There are also garments from the Indian, Chinese, German, Russian and British Army and Navy and more.

The museum takes up the entire ground floor of the couple's house and Gordon says that since opening to the public around 18 months ago it has had nearly 3000 visitors, from curious tourists from as far afield as New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA and Australia to students of history and design. "I love meeting people from all walks of life and talking about history and each one of my exhibits has a story to tell," Gordon says.

Vintage clothing

Gordon and his wife Pauline have lived in Spain since 1989, first for 27 years on the Costa Blanca where they ran businesses in Benidorm and Majorca, selling clothes and running a bed and breakfast, and then Salar. Another of his career moves was supplying the BBC and UK theatres with vintage clothing. "I hate parting with anything," he confesses.

It was in 2006 that the couple decided to sell the business and retire to Salar in Granada province "We wanted to do something different and we'd never lived inland," says Gordon, who was born on The Wirral, near Liverpool, in the UK but explains, "I have always had a deep passion for history and travel and ran away to sea at the age of 15."

Gordon admits that it took him "two or three years to get used to living inland" in Spain but he and his wife are now very involved in the local community and especially the pensioners' groups and say they "enjoy the small village community".

They help out with English conversation classes at the museum and even go to the village nursery once a week to give simple English classes, "like colours and numbers, that sort of thing".

Gordon's love affair with Spain began when he was in the Merchant Navy, serving on frigates, an aircraft carrier and submarines. In 1965 the ship he was on called into Gibraltar for a refit before sailing round to Lisbon and the intrepid Gordon decided that he'd have enough time to make his own way to the Portuguese capital on land.

"I fell in love with the people but not so much the country at the time," he admits, referring to a Spain in the grip of Franco's dictatorship. "The people were very poor, but they treated me so nicely. They shared everything they had, despite being so poor," he recalls.

There's a collection box for donations at the museum but Gordon doesn't charge people to take a look. All the donations he says go either to caring for the cats and dogs he and his wife rescue, or to local animal rescue organisations.

Gordon has started a Facebook page: Museo de Gordon, Salar, Spain and says that at the moment visits are by appointment only. The best way to contact Gordon is either via the Facebook page, by WhatsApp on: 650 359 557, or email: museo-gordon-Salar-18310@aol.com. He adds that a visit to the museum ties in nicely with a trip to Salar's Roman villa: "You can time travel in Salar," he laughs.

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