In total the Natural History collections – plants, animals, rocks and fossils – number in the region of 120,000 specimens.
Initially collections were made by members of the North Staffs. Field Club (established in 1865) and formed the basis of the North Staff. Natural History Museum which opened in 1908 in conjunction with the Hanley Corporation Museum. At the opening of the Museum it was noted that:
“The Committee (of the NSFC) also came to the wise decision that the museum should mainly comprise exhibits relative to Staffordshire, and that it should be made as representative as possible of the flora, fauna, and geology of the County. As will be seen, this decision has been adhered to, and there is every promise that in course of time the various collections will represent very adequately a County which is rich in natural history treasurers.”
This policy to develop the regional significance of the collections continues to the present day and we possess the most comprehensive collection of Staffordshire natural history material anywhere in the world.
The collections as a mass are significant rather than individual items being stars. We look after around 15,000 plant and fungi specimens, with about 6,000 Staffordshire plants being part of the Eric. S. Edees collection.
There are around 12,000 rocks, minerals and fossils, with a good coverage of the fossils associated with the local Coal Measures. Highlights include over 800 Stoke-on-Trent Carboniferous Coal Measures fish fossils collected by John Ward, and the William A.S. Sarjeant collection of 1,000 North Midland minerals.
The majority of the 100,000+ animals specimens are ones found in and around The Potteries. There are over 24,000 beetles, 5,000 bird eggs, 8,000 Staffordshire moths and 14,000 snails, as well as a comprehensive collection of birds and mammals from the region.