The lid is set to be lifted on the the secrets of Ancient Egypt - in Bolton.

Curator of Bolton Museum’s Egyptology exhibit, Ian Trumble looks after more than 12,000 objects and artefacts, the largest of any local authority museum in the UK.

Ian is also the chair of the Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society.

Now he is to embark on a PhD at the University of York, which will explore ancient Egypt and its link with Bolton textile manufacturer Barlow & Jones Ltd.

The Bolton News: Annie Barlow around the time she would have first travelled to EgyptAnnie Barlow around the time she would have first travelled to Egypt (Image: Newsquest)

Ian said: “The PhD is in the history of Egyptology, it’s a broad subject. But it merges true Egyptology, in terms of ancient textile studies, and social history, Bolton’s social history.

Read more: Mummies and mysteries ­— Explore Bolton's Egyptian past

“Ever since I started at the museum 15 years ago, I’ve been interested in the development of the collections, and obviously the Egyptology collection in particular.

“As I started to look into researching more about the collection development, I became particularly interested in how it grew, who developed it, what were the influences, why has Bolton got 12,000 objects?

“People ask that every time they come in here, if you’ve never been to Bolton before, you don’t know about the collection.”

The Bolton News: Ian aims to uncover the relationship between Barlow & Jones Ltd and the acquisition of numerous Egyptian artefacts by BoltonIan aims to uncover the relationship between Barlow & Jones Ltd and the acquisition of numerous Egyptian artefacts by Bolton (Image: Ian Trumble)

He added: “As I looked into it more, the particular context to the development of the collections here, it surrounds one family, the Barlow family, in particular their youngest daughter, a lady called Annie Barlow.

“Her father was the owner of Barlow & Jones, the textile manufacturer. She didn’t marry, so she spent a lot of her time and effort into things that she was really passionate about, like history, archaeology and Egyptology.

“So she studied that herself in her younger years, and then it coincided quite nicely with the development of the Egypt Exploration Fund, which was set up in 1882 to record and excavate Egypt.

Read more: Items from Bolton Museum to shed light on one of greatest archaeological discoveries

“Her job was to go around and collect subscriptions from local wealthy people and give them to the society, so they could fund the excavations.

The Bolton News: Ian has worked at the museum for 15 yearsIan has worked at the museum for 15 years (Image: Newsquest)

“In return, the material that they excavated was divided between the Egyptian authorities and the excavators, which they divided amongst the subscribers.

“So that’s how Bolton started to generate this major collection.”

He added: “We’ve always assumed that there must be business links there, and her access to some of these sights in Egypt was through some of those business links, as they were obviously sourcing Egyptian cotton.

“So there’s a whole other side, the merging of the two, the ancient and the modern, and (I want) to get some understanding, in the context of this one family and this one particular company.”

The Bolton News: He will be undertaking the PhD at the University of YorkHe will be undertaking the PhD at the University of York (Image: Newsquest)

“The history of Bolton’s Egyptology collection is something that, what I understood when I started looking into it, is a lot is assumed, rather than properly evidenced.

“The more I looked into it the more I thought ‘we don’t actually know that’ or we’ve made this statement or assumption but we’ve not got the research to back that up, so that is what focused me into looking at that.

“I want us to understand and evidence what we’re saying. Not only is it a personal passion to do that, but it will inform the history of the collections and those galleries, because there’s nothing stopping us changing those.”

If any readers have any information on Barlow & Jones Ltd or the Barlow family that they think may be of use to Ian, feel free to contact him at