The Rugby Football Museum presently houses a very small but unique collection of rugby artefacts and memorabilia, charting the history and development of the game.
The museum is situated just across the road from Rugby School and the close, where William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball and ran with it, creating our great game. The Museum building was also formerly the workshop of William Gilbert - the man who manufactured the first rugby balls and whose name adorned the official ball for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Visitors to the museum can discover how the first rugby balls were manufactured and find out how Gilbert and fellow Rugbeian Richard Lindon created the ball's distinctive oval shape.With history at your fingertips, you can see the rugby ball which helped Gilbert win a medal at London's Great Exhibition of 1851, and the brass hand pump invented by Lindon in the 1860s to inflate the Indian rubber bladders inside his rugby balls.The museum has many more unique exhibits which bring the history of rugby alive - all housed inside the former workshop where William Gilbert started the ball rolling.
When William Webb Ellis gathered a football at Rugby School and ran with it, a game was born. And though the game has changed since Webb Ellis created history in 1823, its heart remains in the town of Rugby. It's the reason thousands of rugby fans flock to Rugby every year - to make the pilgrimage to the proud home and birthplace of the game. During your visit you can discover how Rugby gave the game to the world and how today's global sport still has its roots in the town.You can visit The Close at Rugby School, the hallowed turf where the game began, and the bronze statue of William Webb Ellis which celebrates the moment he carved his name in history. Explore the town of Rugby by following the Pathway of Fame - a trail of bronze plaques which celebrate the icons of the game.For rugby fans, a visit to Rugby offers the unique opportunity to visit the place where it all began - the chance to discover the heart of the game.
However we have discovered that only a small part of this rare and wonderful collection is on show. Their are hundreds if not thousands of additional artifacts and memorabilia that are yet to see the light of day, and with your help we aim to make these items available for all to view.
We are therefore asking all supporters of our great game to help us realize this ambition. We understand that it is a big task and are proposing to do it in stages.
Initially we need to find out what treasures we have. Therefore we need to investigate, photograph and catalogue all of the items hidden in these store rooms. We need to repair and make good the wall of fame (where your name will appear). We need to redecorate a number of rooms in readiness for displays and exhibitions and we need to improve lighting and security systems. We have plenty of willing volunteers lined up to help and your money will help us buy the products and specialised services required at this early stage. We would also like to develop a interactive website so that all of our supporters can follow and participate with us on this fantastic journey.
This will be followed by the next stage which is to recreate the Gilbert workshop so visitors can experience first hand the original workshop and see a Rugby Ball being made. We also want to develop the whole of the buildings ground floor to reveal many of the wonderful items presently in boxes and deliver a true experience for all.
Stage 2 would be to extend and develop the rest of the building (over 2 further floors) install disabled access and develop the building into the iconic venue it should be.
Our plans are ambitious, but with your help we feel we can achieve it.
Thanks for listening.