Webpage created: August 27, 2019
Webpage updated: August 27, 2019
ALEXANDER AINSWORTH CUMMING (1912-1988)
Born in Haslingden, Lancashire, in 1912, Alexander Ainsworth Cumming was educated at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar Schools before going to Manchester University. He was appointed Assistant Curator of the City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery in 1937, the same year in which he married Miss Margaret Hobson, in his home parish of Haslingden. Mr Cumming became its Curator in 1939.
During the Second World War he served as a Captain in the Royal Artillery and was twice mentioned in despatches. While he was away on active service his responsibilities were taken on by the City Librarian, Mr F C P Cole.
He lived at Sir Francis Drake's old home at Buckland Abbey and is credited with the restoration of the Abbey and rescuing Drake's Drum from the bank vaults to be placed on permanent display there. Mr Cumming acquired many valuable pictures for the City's gallery including a canvas commissioned from Mr Stanley Spencer of the caretaker's garden on the Hoe. As a national authority on Drake he travelled thousands of miles throughout the World ensuring the safe transportation of items from the City Museum to exhibitions. [“Drake’s Drum rescuer dies at 76”, Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, July 14th 1988.]
Mr Cumming was awarded the OBE in 1974, the year in which he was President of the Museums Association of Great Britain.
After 37 years of service to Plymouth, Mr Cumming retired in 1978. He was loudly praised for his foresight in making sure that Plymouth's treasures were saved from the Blitz by being removed from the City to safety elsewhere.
Mr Alexander Ainsworth Cumming passed away peacefully on July 13th 1988 at the age of 76 years. He was cremated at Weston Mill Crematorium on July 19th 1988. Mr Cumming was survived by his widow, Margaret, and two daughters, Helen and Marie.