There is no place that encapsulates Watford's past and present more than the town's museum - and it celebrates its 40th birthday today.

Housed in the former offices of Benskins Brewery, the museum was opened by Terry Scott on March 14, 1981 when he was at the peak of his fame in the sitcom Terry and June.

Born in Watford and educated close to the site of the museum at Watford Fields Junior School and Watford Grammar School for Boys, the late actor and comedian was the ideal choice to perform of the opening of what is now a Visit England accredited museum.

The coronavirus restrictions mean the museum is currently closed and staff are unable to mark the occasion how they would have wished.

With the help of curator Sarah Priestley though, we are able to help celebrate today's occasion by taking a look back at pictures of the opening day and some of the museum's highlights since through the timeline below.

The re-opening of Watford Museum in July with mayor, Peter Taylor and Sarah Priestley, Watford Museum Curator and Watford Council Heritage Manager. Photo: Simon Jacobs

The re-opening of Watford Museum in July with mayor, Peter Taylor and Sarah Priestley, Watford Museum Curator and Watford Council Heritage Manager. Photo: Simon Jacobs

The museum's displays on local history, industry and archaeology include Watford at War, print, brewing and Watford Football Club.

It has become more of a cultural hub as well, through teaming up with local creatives to host events such as Record Store Day, Watford Fringe and the Watford Short Film Festival. Before the pandemic it was also hosting monthly improvised comedy nights put on by The Electric Head.

The museum also hosts and coordinates Heritage Open Days which run in September of each year and opens up a variety of buildings and historic landmarks across the town. All of these allow the museum to be used by people in Watford and open it up to new possibilities.

You can pay the museum a virtual visit at or find the museum on Facebook and Instagram @watfordmuseum

Watford Museum Timeline

1750: First record of brewing on the site.

c1775: Mansion house built that houses museum.

1867: House and brewery bought by Joseph Benskin. Benskin's became the most import brewers in Watford.

Terry Scott arrived for the opening on board a Benskins dray

Terry Scott arrived for the opening on board a Benskins dray

March 14, 1981: Watford Museum opened by Terry Scott and Mayor of Watford, Councillor SG Reynolds.

1982: Runner up in the Museum of the Year Award.

1984: Purchase of a View of South West Front of Cassiobury by JMW Turner.

1984: 'Here For the Beer' exhibition celebrated Watford's brewing heritage.

1989: Donation of Cassiobury portrait collection by Lady Essex.

1990: Watford at War exhibition was one of the most popular exhibitions.

1993: Publication of the museum's art catalogue by Dr L Harwood, exploring the museum's internationally renowned collection of art.

1998: First meeting of the Friends of Watford Museum 2001: The heritage officer relaunches High Street Trails.

2002 and 2003: Goal-den Years exhibitions celebrated Graham Taylor's phenomenally successful periods at Watford FC.

Crowds flock through the gates on the museums opening day in 1981

Crowds flock through the gates on the museum's opening day in 1981

2002: Purchase of a View of Cassiobury Park by John Wootton, one of the largest fundraising projects in the museum's history successfully returning the painting to Watford from America.

2003: Watford Museum in partnership with Blind, Stupid and Desperate and Look at the Stars publishes "You Are My Watford", a book of memories of Watford supporters and players. The book sells out with two months and raises thousands for the Watford Supporters Trust.

2004: Launch of the museum's website.

2005: Dig for Victory project turned the museum's garden into a Dig for Victory garden.

July 2006: Opening of Space2 gallery creating an exciting contemporary art exhibition space.

2006: Launch of the Watford Junction website, connecting up the diverse strands of Watford's history on-line.

2007: Awarded a runners up prize at the Big Draw 2006 awards, presented by Quentin Blake.

2007: Museum awarded Full Accreditation in the MLA's (Museums Libraries and Archives Council) new accreditation scheme.

2007: Hosted the Watford African Caribbean Association's Slavery exhibition, commemorating the abolition of slavery and the former slave, George Doney, who is buried in St Mary's Churchyard.

2007: Haunted Museum opens door for the first time - the successful Halloween event with I Can't Believe We're Not Better Theatre Company

2009: Participated in LGBT History Month for the first time.

2009: Celebrated the Centenary of Cassiobury Park with exhibitions and events.

2009: Took part in Heritage Open Day Weekend for the first time, coordinating events in historic venues across the town.

2010: Evening opening of the museum for 'Museums at Night' for first time.

2010: Participated in the Festival of British Archaeology for the first time with help from TV archaeologist Julian Richards.

2010: The museum's most popular printing exhibit, the 1820 Columbian Press which printed the first copy of the Watford Observer in 1863 brought back to full working order by volunteers.

2010: Made a Quality Assured Visitor Attraction by Enjoy England.

Terry Scott enjoys a light-hearted moment at the opening

Terry Scott enjoys a light-hearted moment at the opening

2011: Watford for You Favourite Historical Spot Award.

2012: Launch of New Connections – Watford Museum’s own over 50s dance company.

2013: Worked with Watford Council planning policy on the restoration of St Mary’s Churchyard with funding from the HLF.

2014: The publications of Cassiobury with Paul Rabbitts as part of the Cassiobury Lottery project.

2014: Launch of the museum's World War One project with exhibitions and a digital Roll of Honour to commemorate Watford in the First World War.

2017: The museum's Bronze Age bowl was taken to Mainz in Germany for research when it was discovered to be Phoenician

2018: Officially became the collecting museum for Watford Football Club

2019: Partner in the launch of Golden Memories, Watford FC Trust’s project working with people living with dementia

2021: Current service review looking at taking the museum forward for the future