In addition to wedding gowns and christening robes, the Despatches theme is illustrated through the story of funerals in York and across the Avon Valley.
York funeral director Amos Bradshaw started a business in the 1870s, which he then sold to George Wansbrough in 1895.
In 1896, James Purslowe left NSW with the intention of finding gold in the West.
Meanwhile George Wansbrough’s brother James and his wife Mary Ann ran a boarding house, known as Benson House, on Fitzgerald Street, where the Commonwealth Bank now stands.
It was here their daughter Roseanne met James, who was boarding there. They were married in 1899 and, after a brief foray to the goldfields, they went to Northam in 1901. Eventually James set up what would become the Purslowe family funeral business.
A staunch Methodist, he took a great interest in his church and served on Northam Municipal Council until his death in 1927, when the business was passed on to his children.
Meanwhile, back in York, George Wansbrough had passed his funeral business to his son James Lauder, who sold it in 1950 to Stephen Harvey, who later sold it to Purslowe and Sons, of Northam.
Rob and Dianne Tinetti, who now own Purslowe Tinetti Funerals, were so fascinated by the story they looked through their storage area and discovered significant memorial plaques and funeral cards, now on show with historic embalming equipment, a funeral ledger and coffin ornaments as part of the York Residency Museum exhibition.
The exhibition is on until May 31 as part of the WA Heritage Festival.