Easter weekend on the Llýn peninsula - icy cold winds, blue skies, bright sunshine, a turquoise sea that looked like the Mediterranean but was a good deal lower in temperature, and the magnificent snow-clad mountains of Snowdonia to the east. On the main road heading south-west from Caernarfon the towering twin peaks of Yr Eifl (1458 feet and 1850 feet) fill the view ahead, the seaward side of the former scarred and terraced by abandoned granite quarries. To the left are two more twin peaks, Gyrn Ddu (1712 feet) and Gyrn Goch (1607 feet) looming high above the road. It's a dramatic and awe-inspiring landscape, the relatively modest height of the four hills belied by their formidable craggy slopes and the fact that they rise straight from the sea.
In the foreground, with Gyrn Goch towering behind it, is the large and imposing Perpendicular tower of the church of St Beuno in the village of Clynnog Fawr. We were visiting some of the churches which stand on the ancient pilgrimage route to Bardsey Island and this church is perhaps the most impressive of all. At the heart of a tiny community huddled on the narrow shelf between mountain and cliff, it is the dominant element of the man-made landscape though dwarfed by the formidable heights above. It is far larger than the small population requires, and can ever have required, but of course it was not there just to serve local people. Many of them are buried in the sprawling churchyard beneath superb purple slate gravestones, with long inscriptions in Welsh and a recurring motif of palm fronds, symbolic of the Passion but also of joyful entry, the victory of faith over death and suffering.
Inside the building the great space of the nave and transepts, plain, whitewashed and almost empty of decoration, emphasises that point. Between the transepts and the chancel extends a fine though plain early sixteenth century choir screen, and in the chancel itself a three-arched sedilia and choir stalls with misericords draw attention to the status of the building. An immense arch links the nave with the space under the tower, from which a small door leads into a dark and mysterious passage connecting with the otherwise separate chapel of St Beuno, where until the Reformation the saint's shrine stood - a fragment of the shrine, in curved carved stone, now stands in the nave, a poignant reminder of a vanished glory.
St Beuno was born in Powys in the late 6th century, was educated in the celebrated monastic centre at Bangor on Dee, and became a missionary in Gwynedd under the patronage of its king, Cadfan. After trials and tribulations Beuno founded a monastery at Clynnog Fawr and in 640 was buried there. He was revered as a saint and his shrine became an object of pilgrimage in its own right, an essential stopping point for the faithful on their way to Bardsey ('the island of the bards' or, in Welsh, Yn Enlli, 'the island of the currents') where, it was said, 20,000 saints were buried - ample justification for its role as one of the foremost medieval pilgrimage destinations in the British Isles.
We chatted to the helpful churchwarden who was getting the small chapel ready for Easter (too cold and not enough people to warrant using the main church) and learned a bit of local gossip, before looking round. The church is full of objects of interest - including a fearsome pair of 18th century dog tongs, with which to grasp ferocious hounds that were causing a nuisance in church and forcibly evict them from the premises. And there was also a superb local history display, a model of its kind, which used copies of, and extracts from, the parish records (now safely housed in the archives at Caernarfon) to explain and illuminate themes as diverse as the use of the Welsh language, the operation of the Poor Law, and the economy of the parish. It was refreshing to see a display of such quality - informative, interesting and comprehensive - in such a fascinating place.
History was written as early as 1916 when Jennie Churchill published Women's War Work, followed by journalist Boyd Cable's Doing Their Bit. These celebratory pieces emphasised women's contribution, and encouraged employers to take on more women. Jennie's son, Winston, called it 'a revolution in the workplace'. The new Ministry of Munitions began to record women's new wartime tasks to encouragedilution, women replacing skilled men, as well as substitution, women replacing men. The Ministry took photographs, produced pamphlets and posters, and inspired many journalists to celebrate womens' achievements. In 1916 government went into production itself, setting up national factories to make good the shortage of shells, and women's wartime work subsequently reached its peak. In 1917 the women's land army was set up to increase food production, and forage for the animals needed for modern warfare. All these moves were celebrated and recorded in press and on newsreel. What was less noticed was the expansion of office work needed for a modern war, and many office occupations began to employ larger numbers of women.
The historiography of women's work shared the celebratory quality of much wartime publicity for a long time. There was a flurry of books about women and war in the 20s and rediscovery of the history in the late 1960s, partly as a result of feminist rediscovery of people previously Hidden from History as in Sheila Rowbotham's 1974 work of that name. Imperial War Museum (IWM) displayed a big exhibition in 1977 for which Arthur Marwick's catalogue - published as Women at War - drew the most popular attention, following on from his The Deluge of 1965. However, debate can be seen in several publications of the period by women scholars: Gail Braybon, Women Workers and the First World War, 1981; and, focussing on munition workers, my own Nice Girls and Rude Girls,1998 (which republished articles going back to the late 70s), Claire A. Cullerton,Working Class Culture, Women and War in Britain, 1914-22,1999; and Angela Woollacott, On Her Their Lives Depend, Munitions Workers in the Great War, 1994.
Debate centres on the relative balance given to positive outcomes or negative sentiments; if change endured, and was taken into other places; how much women acted self-consciously as a collective group with a common interest; whether political change reflected this wartime contribution; and how far war experience is always shadowed by death and injury. Pessimists tend to see short-term gains amidst loss, optimists see a transformation in working lives. Where all agree is that the history of women's war is always affected by class, region, other experience and family lives, as well as politics. And it is never entirely shared. Women's history has not followed labour history in separating work from other places where people go, and recent histories look at the whole experience of war for women; for example, on the streets, in places of entertainment, and in voluntary activity. In particular, the question of whether new workplaces were so very different from old ones cries out for more local research and, while we have national figures for women working they are crude and inaccurate, reflecting major workplaces only. Recently online resources have added to the variety of primary materials available to the researcher and this has enabled debates to develop further.
The emphasis of existing history reflects sources that have been used. There are three major national sources which enable us to investigate local histories in more detail. The richest - the Imperial War Museum - began collecting documents and commissioning photographs in 1917 to produce a memorial to women's contribution to the war, among other things. This women's work collection is now available online. Researchers can also go to the museum and look at four collections - documents, printed materials, sound archive and photographs. This archive has helped create and sustain historical debate by making a predominantly positive account of women's war contribution. It has underlined innovation and change, especially with photographic evidence when photographers investigated jobs where women had replaced men, and frequently found that replacement of men by women was neither as extensive nor as complete as had been believed. Much war work was expansion for the war, making munitions. Records are indexed in a variety of ways so local historians can sometimes find examples of a specific wartime workplace in any of the separate collections, or even in all three in major places, especially those near London such as the Royal Ordinance Factories at Woolwich, and at Enfield. There are also records for some government factories built in 1916, running through to 1919 in some cases, though these are less accessible.
The second national source is the National Archive: Ministry of Munitions; Board of Trade (up to 1916), subsequently Ministry of Labour; and Ministry of Supply. If interested in a specific factory there are regular weekly reports to the Ministry of Munitions about labour matters including secret reports from munitions factories during the 1917 unrest, giving occasional glimpses of life in a wartime factory. Munitions work was quite varied. The test case about railway wagons that were needed to carry munitions helps researchers look at something new in wartime that related to war administration.
The third source is the TUC archive, especially its Gertrude Tuckwell collection. This includes press clippings collected by the Women's Trade Union League, organised by industry, and geographically. This is held at London Metropolitan University (unlike the Women's Library which moves to the London School of Economics in 2013). It has been copied by Harvester microform, and available in several libraries. Some of the collection is indexed by place and is likely to be particularly valuable for large industrial cities with a strong trade union movement. The collection includes the Woman Worker journal which ran for most of the war years, and which regularly recorded local branch activity where unionism was new, or only active during the war itself.
Local sources include all sorts of economic activity. Sadly, it is least available where there is least change. If one looks at workers in textile factories they were doing work done by women before the war and thus not subject to the same armoury of regulation and administration as industries where women substituted for men, or under dilution agreements where they went in as partial replacements for skilled or semi-skilled men. Dilutees were very visible in the record as they went in under equal pay agreements and had to be agreed by trade union committees and arbitration tribunals. Thus we know a great deal more about workplaces where women replaced men. In some industries, such as shipbuilding, there were very few women. In shops, pubs or offices there were many women but their presence was rarely controversial as few regulations applied.
Questions that make local comparative research useful relate to numbers of workers, where they came from, whether they had welfare schemes or trade unions, how long they worked, and what impact they had on their area. Did they produce magazines or leaflets as in some armaments factories? Do they appear in the criminal records for concealing births, breaking regulations, drunkenness or disorder - or, more positively, in weddings, group photos or concert parties? Are there political or philanthropic traces like trade union recruitment, or women police patrols? Despite now passing from living memory the war remains controversial and women are no longer forgotten or hidden. But there is still research to be done.
For a very good summary of these debates see Susan Pyecroft, 'British Working Women and the First World War'in Historian, vol. 56 (4), pp. 699-710, June 1994.The article was first published online on 23 AUG 2007.
Other online references:
Joanna Bourke, for the BBChttp://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/britain_wwone/women_employment_01.shtml.
Dr Deborah Thom is Director of Studies in History and PPS, Robinson College, University of Cambridge.
The manor court of Laxton is far from being England's last working court leet, and it is not true that the institution 'disappeared from every other manor centuries ago', as John Beckett suggests in your winter 2013 issue. Most of the courts which still function govern uplands or forests, and while some have turned into a ceremonial shadow of their former selves, there is still serious work being done in others. Laxton is evidently the only one with a visitor centre and tourist attractions.
The decline of manor courts was more gradual, and less absolute, than the piece implies. While the Law of Property Act of 1922, enacted in 1926, by abolishing copyhold removed a main raison d'etre of customary courts, they had of course been long since undermined by enclosure, and then by agricultural decline in the 1870s. But still, after 1926 quite a number continued their work. Some managed forests in the south and west of England, while others supervised grazing and other activity on large commons. Survival, generally speaking, has rested on how useful the participants find the process. In the 1970s it was proposed to abolish all manorial courts. Instead legislators took note of the view that manorial courts might continue to fulfil a useful role. The Administration of Justice Act 1977, while removing from the manor courts any lingering powers to hear legal proceedings, empowered them to continue their customary business. The Act lists the 32 English and Welsh courts leet surviving at that time.
My particular interest is in a cluster of manor courts in the North York Moors. Indeed, so efficiently do these courts work to manage vast tracts of upland commons, that one which had fallen into abeyance, in Spaunton in the parish of Lastingham on the southern side of the moors, was revived by the lord of Spaunton manor, Viscount Downe, before 1958. Lord Downe is also lord of Danby manor, where a court leet and court baron meets in the castle, and there are active courts leet in the manors of Fyling and Whitby Laithes, the lord of both being Sir Frederic Strickland-Constable Bt, a descendant of the Cholmley family. Rosedale West had a court leet into modern times, but it ceased before 1977.
Danby's annual court day is held on the third Thursday of October in the solar of Danby Castle, and is open to anyone to attend and marvel at its medieval form and terminology. With support from the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society in 2009 I commissioned a film of the entire proceedings, supplemented with interviews of jurymen, other farmers, the bailiff and lord, and with footage of the jury's work beyond the ceremonials of court day. The DVDDanby Court Leet, which also includes a long article about the historical and economic background, is available from Whitby Museum for £12:http://www.whitbymuseum.org.uk/bitsnpieces/bstall.htm.
Since he retired, fourteen years ago, from the University of Warwick where he was Senior Lecturer in Science Education, Dr Douglas Harwood has become an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and widely respected local historian. From his initial interest in historical geography and landscape history, he discovered the delights of exploring Leicestershire Record Office, and then began a project to record oral histories from fellow residents of his home village of Ratby.
Coincidentally at the end of 1999, the church of St Philip and St James in Ratby had to close. Essential repairs to the roof were estimated to cost £250,000 and fund raising became urgent. Ratby is fortunate to have two sites of outstanding historical interest: a nine-acre Iron Age/Romano ramparted enclosure called Ratby Bury (Bury Camp) and a 13th century moated farmhouse (Old Hays) linked to a former deer park (Burgh Park). Guided walks were suggested as one means of generating money for the church roof. With the permission of the landowners, and after an introduction by Tony Squires who had researched the area for his book The Medieval Parks of Charnwood Forest, Doug Harwood helped train the guides. A dozen guides escorted 1,400 visitors around the sites, and raised £5,500 during the summer of 2000, so the idea was a great success.
Dr Harwood then thought that this interest might be turned to good use, and proposed a permanent group be formed. After an initial meeting in November 2000 the Ratby Local History Group was formally constituted in March 2001, and he has been its chair ever since. A referee describes Dr Harwood as 'without doubt the hardest working Chairman of any committee I have ever worked on'.
Ratby Local History Group has an interesting format to the six meetings held per year. Each occasion usually has a speaker from the Leicestershire History List, followed by a shorter talk that relates the main topic to the specific locality of Ratby. Dr Harwood chairs the evenings, and often assists with local information or makes the second contribution himself.
His 'foresight and energy' not only initiated the society, but have greatly increased the number of active local historians in the area where many people have been encouraged and supported to research, then present and publish their findings. Four volumes of The History of Ratby have been produced so far. Edited by Doug Harwood, and with contributions from him and from many others; these have been warmly reviewed and also sold well. Plans for a fifth volume are in progress, and the group has volunteered to write the Ratby section for the Victoria County History of Leicestershire.
Under Douglas Harwood's leadership the village community, from whom the society and its officers come, has adopted local history with great enthusiasm. The interest has taken tangible form in the erection of name plaques to help preserve the memory of heritage features in the villages, in partnership with Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, and a heritage information board in partnership with the National Forest.
To quote another reference: 'without Doug there would be no history group, and our knowledge of the village and its surrounding area would be far poorer for it'.
With thanks to Doug Harwood, Bryan Lewis, Ken Hunnybun and Neil Glenister
One of the many joys of The Local Historian and Local History News is that they are the perfect size for reading on the train. As I regularly make the 100 mile journey, for family and business reasons, from deepest Wiltshire to Wandsworth Common in south-west London, via Clapham Junction Station, they have become regular travelling companions. Sometimes the covers will even elicit interest from a curious, and otherwise silent, fellow passenger.
I know that Clapham Junction station is imminent when the train enters that deep cutting overseen by the huge Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, nestling uneasily with neighbouring ten-story local authority high-rise flats on the Fitzhugh Estate.
Then it's off the train and onto the cultural shift of the 77 bus, back to Wandsworth Common. In a philosophical mood from my train reading, I alight across from Spencer Park, by the remains of the old windmill, and wonder why that sits in south west London. Then over the railway bridge, along John Archer Way (so just who was John Archer?), past the old Gothic architecture of the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building once more (why was that built?) and onto the Common.
There is an educational building on the Common which has been closed for sometime. Knowing it was due to reopen in 2013, it seemed a good opportunity to satisfy my curiosity by collecting all the current research I could about the history of the Common. This could then serve as an additional resource for the new NatureScope Centre, now with its emphasis on community education. I knew from Local History News that Wandsworth Historical Society had produced a DVD containing forty years' worth of articles from the Wandsworth Historian and decided to start with this. I was encouraged by Neil Robson and Shirley Passmore of the Wandsworth Historical Society, and Ruth MacLeod, Heritage Officer, Wandsworth Heritage Service (how nice to subsequently see Ruth on Who Do You Think You Are!).
I spoke to members of the Bolingbroke Bowling Club who gave me the history of its 90 years on the bowling green and realised what a rich oral history resource lies around the Common. Back home, thanks to the soggy summer of 2012, I spent a good deal of time at the computer, building up a picture of the history of the Common and peopling that from the 1891 census. I discovered the frustrations of the Common's position geographically, sited as it is partly in Wandsworth parish and partly in Battersea. I purchased maps and photographs, even a copy of a drawing from the National Archives, which must be the original 12 inch to the mile plan of the Ordnance Survey, all without leaving home.
So I have amassed two large ring binders full of information. I have a copy of the 1740s John Roque map which shows Wandsworth Common, in much the same 'slice of pizza' shape that it is today. It is the wastelands of the manor, unproductive and uncultivated, surrounded by strip fields, and with just one mansion marked on its northern edge. Today, in contrast, those strip fields have disappeared under housing and the Common now is a manicured and much prized open space, cleared of its gypsies and protected by Acts of Parliament.
So I know now that the windmill, Grade 2 listed and minus its sails, was built (actually as a windpump) when the railway navvies were excavating their way across the Common building the London to Southampton Railway in 1837, the line I now use. The pump was needed to preserve the water supply to a large ornamental lake, itself a former gravel pit, associated with that mansion on the northern edge and later an attraction known as the Black Sea. The mansion was leased in 1829 from the Lord of the Manor, then Earl Spencer, by the Wilson family. William Wilson was a co-founder of Prices Candles with factories in Vauxhall and Battersea. Two of his sons, James and George continued the business and proved to be unusual Victorian employers. Their story of philanthropy towards their workers and child labourers, and their building of an industrial village at Bromborough Pool on the Wirral, would make a wonderful basis for studying industrial history. The 1861 census provides a glimpse of the local families who they sent north to start their new factory. By a twist of fate, Bromborough Pool was designated as a Conservation Area in 1986, the same year as much of Wandsworth Common.
After considerable local battles, Wandsworth Common was handed over by Lord John Spencer when successful campaigning resulted in the Wandsworth Common Act of 1871. He retained the area now known as Spencer Park, opposite the bus stop.
The foundation stone of the Royal Victoria Patriotic Asylum, I discovered, was laid by Queen Victoria in 1857. With echoes of the current Help the Heroes campaign, it resulted from money raised to help widows and orphans of the soldiers killed in the Crimean war. It was not, by all accounts, a happy place. In 1914, it was rapidly transformed into the Third London General Hospital. Its proximity to the railway meant that the wounded, having arrived by train from Southampton, were shuttled up that embankment and into temporary wards which covered all of the grounds and farm of the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building.
But who was John Archer? He was born in Liverpool in 1863 and settled in Battersea in the early 1900s, establishing a photographic studio in Battersea Park Road. He became one of the first people of African descent to be elected to public office in Britain, winning a seat on Battersea Council in 1906 and becoming Mayor in 1913.
After various uses, the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building was purchased by the London County Council in 1952 and a boys' school developed. This was eventually renamed, with the sensitivities of the time, as John Archer School. I find it fascinating that John Spencer and John Archer, born five years, but worlds apart, are now immortalised together in street names a few yards from each other.
Following a period of dereliction and repair, the building now houses a drama school, flats, workshops, offices and a bar and restaurant licenced for weddings.
The London County Council used part of the land to build the high rise flats so needed for housing in the capital in the 1950s and many of these are in private hands today. Much of the farm land, with its farmhouse and buildings, were restored as common land after WW1 and the farmhouse is today a café. To the left of the café, as seen here, lie the NatureScope Centre, the bowling green and tennis courts.
There is much more in my collection that will be of interest to adults locally. Indeed, I led a guided walk on the 17th April, part of an initiative by Wandsworth Council to encourage the public to get out and about in their local open spaces. This was supported by members of the local Wandsworth Common MAC (Management advisory committee). MACs are voluntary groups made up from local people who meet regularly with the Parks Officer and are interested in how the commons are run. Their brief includes promoting public interest and participation in the protection and appreciation of the common. But it seems more difficult to find a route through to the children, who surely are the future custodians of this heritage, given that so much can today be researched with guidance, at home, or in school, online.
Wandsworth Common is only a part of Wandsworth borough, but the 2011 Census results show that Wandsworth ranks 8th in population of the London boroughs at 307,000. This is an increase of 13% from the 2001 Census (271,000). The rise in births and net migration have given Wandsworth the fourth largest population increase in London over the 10 years. There was a 30% increase in the number of children age 0 to 4 (now 5,000 plus) (Source: Wandsworth Borough Council Paper No. 12-615). This has given the epithet of Nappy Valley to a specific area ofBattersea, between Clapham Common and Wandsworth Common and one might hope that an element of the understanding of their local history might be a welcome addition for schools.
The challenge therefore seems to be for local historians to find a way of presenting the past that is appealing and readily absorbed by children at each of the Key Stages of the National Curriculum. Most of us don't know even what these are. I doubt my experience is unusual. Perhaps this is an area in which previous expertise in the presentation of localised history to children could be shared?
Some time since there was a reproduction of one of the Faden maps of London.
There is a more detailed edition of the Rickmansworth area. (see LHN 93 cover)
I have recently had cause to try to resurrect a map of the landscape between Watford and Rickmansworth, in particular the river Colne, its tributaries the Gade and the Chess, as well as the ditches. The purpose has been to establish the line of the Colne and the Gade before the Grand Junction canal was built as no copy of the original plan of this area appears to have survived, not even in the House of Lords Record Office.
It has become apparent that though the Faden map is pretty it is far from accurate. Indeed the water courses shown are so few in the context the map is of little value. A scan of the roads and other items shown has relegated the map further.
Is this a widely held view in respect of other parts of the map for other areas?
Rickmansworth Historical Society Newsletter
Replies to firstname.lastname@example.org
I was interested to see in the most recent edition of the Local History News that you wanted to know if any members had done any research into the role of women and/or food shortages during WW1. In 2001 I had an article published in "Cheshire History" about the Cheshire Lunatic Asylum during WW1* which includes references to both of these topics. The replacement of men as attendants by women, the impact of rising food costs and as such the digging up of the grounds and intensive cultivation of land in order to grow enough food to feed the patients. While most people are aware of rationing and Dig for Victory during WW2 there is perhaps less knowledge that these organised responses were implemented as a result of the failures and chaos around food supplies particularly from 1917 onwards. Women taking over the roles of men was widespread not just confined to munitions workers. At Chester those patients who were able to worked under supervision on the land and in the workshops, the need for labour meant that women patients in the war years worked also on the land. The food issue was aggravated not just by the shortages but also because the number of patients rose because Winwick Asylum near Warrington was taken over by the military as a hospital so their patients had to be distributed among the other Asylums in the area.
* Carol Coles, An End to Isolation: The Cheshire County Lunatic Asylum during World War 1. Cheshire History No 41 2001-2 ISSN 0141 8696
LEICESTERSHIRE VCH - HISTORY IN THE COMMUNITY
Progress report from Julie Attard
When work on the VCH project ceased in Leicestershire in 1964, five volumes had been produced and 300 towns and villages remained to be researched and written. This was the formidable task we faced in 2008, when a charitable trust was created to revive the Leicestershire VCH. The timing, at the beginning of one of the deepest recessions in living memory, was not the most auspicious. Since then it has been immensely challenging to raise public awareness and enough money to support even a relatively small group of volunteers, let alone a County Editor.
This may all sound rather gloomy but paradoxically the chasm between the resources we have had and those that we would like has forced us to think creatively about how we research and write parish histories and is producing more stimulating projects as a result.
Volunteers have long been a feature of the VCH and they are more important today than ever. Increasingly counties are relying at least in part on volunteer researchers. This brings challenges. Volunteers require varying degrees of training and support to produce research that meets VCH standards. Nevertheless, there are rich rewards. Community involvement introduces the VCH to new audiences and makes more explicit the connection between VCH research and public education. Furthermore, a deeper engagement with heritage professionals and volunteers working for other community projects can highlight the value of the reliable research provided by the VCH and the ways in which it can be used to buttress other local initiatives, such as heritage protection or regeneration.
Leicestershire has one of the most active and varied VCH volunteer programmes in the country. Around thirty volunteers are currently researching twenty Leicestershire parishes. They are a diverse bunch from different backgrounds. Some work alone, others in small groups; in the village of Queniborough, two generations of one family are working together. This year we will publish online our first VCH parish histories since 1964, thanks to the hard graft and dedication of our Volunteer Coordinator, Dr Pam Fisher, and the team of enthusiastic volunteers that she has trained and nurtured over the past two years.
We have also found a way to involve a younger generation of researchers in our volunteer body. The successful pilot of a new Student County Historian programme with undergraduates from the University of Leicester was a highlight for us last year. A small team of student historians spent seven weeks with us during the summer vacation, researching the religious history sections for four suburban parishes to the south of Leicester city centre. The results were published online and presented by the students at a public lecture in the autumn. This year a new batch of recruits will be exploring the history of several Leicestershire schools.
For those that have limited time or less experience, the prospect of researching an entire parish history can be too daunting. We are now investigating alternative approaches to volunteer recruitment and training by offering some simple activities that can be completed relatively quickly and without having to travel to an archive. One such project is using online trade directories to research the histories of Leicestershire's non-conformist religious congregations. Dr Fisher has also created a series of online research guides covering agricultural history, researching parish churches and schools, and interpreting pre-Ordnance Survey maps.
Most exciting of all, we are about to embark upon our first major project, Charnwood Roots. In December 2012, we learnt that our second round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a four-year project to research the histories of 35 towns and villages in and around Charnwood Forest had been successful. Most of rural Leicestershire is quite flat, agricultural and dominated by nuclear villages. Charnwood has jagged peaks, extensive heaths, woodland, industry and scattered settlements. The area has some of the oldest rocks in the country and the fossils these contain inspired the career of the young David Attenborough, who explored the forests and ancient rocks as a boy. At the very least, but for the M1 motorway and the local quarrying industry which supplies a large proportion of Britain's aggregates, Charnwood would today be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The substantial grant will finally make possible a major research project in 24 contiguous parishes in this area. We will be recruiting and training 400 local volunteers to assist with a wide range of tasks from documentary research to community digs, field-walking, oral history, and historic building and landscape surveys. Public events and activities aimed at families, local societies, businesses and schools will share the discoveries with the wider community. As well as forming the basis of at least two new volumes of the VCH Leicestershire, the research will be used to create exhibitions, podcasts, educational resources for schools, heritage trails and a pop-up museum which will tour venues across the county. A complementary collaborative doctoral research project is investigating the landscape history of Charnwood Forest. This, coupled with the Charnwood Roots research, will feed into local initiatives, coordinated by Leicestershire County Council, to ensure a greater measure of protection for this nationally significant area.
Open access training resources will be created during the project that will be of use to local historians in general and to VCH volunteer groups in particular. Finally, we hope that our work will give heart to other counties in a similar position. It shows that with perseverance it is possible to sustain a vibrant Victoria County History project in difficult times.
Dr Julie Attard is Project Development Officer
On 13 March 2013 this ambitious HLF funded project initiated by the North East Labour History Society officially came to a close. During its two year duration it has drawn in volunteers the majority of them completely new to this type of work to detect, list and analyse material relating to popular politics in the North East over a time span of nearly 400 years. The main aim was to place this material on a public searchable data base and this has to a large extent been achieved. Users can enter URL into a search engine www.ppp2010.co.uk and type in a term. If an item exists on the database all references will appear in a list with instructions on where to find them. The hope is that users will be able to add material and so extend it.
During the project several members used their research to construct valuable narratives which will be published as articles in subsequent issues of North East History the journal of the Society.
The team has also produced two toolkits one for adult researchers and one for oral history in secondary school s, toolkits accessible on email@example.com.
The next aspiration is to build on the achievements of the project by using the skills of the volunteers to interpret their findings into a People's History of the region which can be used to engage even wider audiences and attract more participants in programmes of community -based talks, workshops and other activities.
Win Stokes .
At a time when news from local authorities is more likely to concern reductions in services, it is especially good to report that Derbyshire County Council has invested over £4 million in enhancing and upgrading its archives and local studies facilities. Thanks in large part to the personal commitment of the Council's leader, Councillor Andrew Lewer, himself a history graduate and user of county archive services, the project to expand the Derbyshire Record Office in New Street, Matlock, was formally completed on 19 March 2013 with an official opening by John Beckett, Professor of English Regional History at Nottingham University and former Director of the Victoria County History.
This was the end of a long process during which a number of options were considered for re-locating the Derbyshire Record Office - for example, to an industrial estate just off the MI; to first-floor offices above a 1960s shopping development; to the upper levels of a proposed multi-storey development with no vehicle access and located near the banks of the River Derwent. Fortunately, it was eventually recognised there was room for expansion available on site next to the buildings which had been in use as a dedicated, purpose-adapted, record office since 1988.
The core building was initially developed as a hydro on Matlock Bank at the height of fashion for health-giving water treatment popularised by the Victorian textile manufacturer and philanthropist John Smedley (1803-74). Originally one of about twenty hydros in the immediate area, it later became Matlock's co-educational Grammar School, itself the charitable benefaction of another local man, the flour miller Ernest Bailey (1869-1938). While in use as a school, the County Council's architect, George Widdows (1871-1946), a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects highly respected by his contemporaries, had an extension built in the 1920s exemplifying his innovative design principles. These included wide and airy corridors, use of concrete for stairs, and choice of external materials sympathetic to local building styles. Widdows's high construction standards subsequently made it practicable to adapt this space for archive strong rooms.
The recent expansion has seen the conversion of an adjacent building, Wyvern House, another former 19thcentury hydro. This has enabled the amalgamation of the extensive county local studies collection with the archive holdings and the creation of a state-of-the-art reading room for users. Elsewhere on site new storage space has been provided for the growth ofcollections. As Councillor Lewer commented: "Not only has this project created a wonderful new environment for the Record Office, but it has also breathed new life into one of the former hydros which made Matlock the town it is today. This is just one of a series of cultural investments the County Council is making and it has achieved a complete transformation of the Record Office to provide a bright, modern, vibrant service to the people of Derbyshire and beyond."
At the opening John Beckett spoke of the importance of local archives to the national heritage; Derbyshire Poet Laureate Matt Black read his poem celebrating the new-look Record Office; and guests, including owners and depositors of archives, were able to see not only the place but also the high standards to which their documents were kept. Highlights of the archive collections include papers of many local gentry families such as the FitzHerberts of Tissington, the Harpur-Crewes of Calke and the Gells of Hopton; personal manuscripts of the late medieval period including John Banys's dance notebook and the Book of Hours of the Statham and Sacheverell families; industrial records including early leadmining and coalmining; business records such as archives of the Strutts of Belper, textile mill owners; school records; manuscript maps including an early sixteenth century 'processional way' map for South Derbyshire; extensive series of parish and nonconformist records including an uncommon Presbyterian national church classis book, 1651-1658, and archives of Derby Hebrew Congregation. Another exceptional archive is a collection of almost five hundred caricatures by George Woodward (1765-1809) with some showing early balloon flights and a group dated between 1782 and 1787 depicting actors in Shakespearean roles.
Why Matlock? The town is in the geographical centre of Derbyshire, equally accessible from north, south, east and west of the county. It is also the location of Derbyshire County Council's administrative headquarters, housed in the striking castellated building which dominates the skyline on Matlock Bank. This is the former Smedley's Hydro, said to be designed by John Smedley himself and retaining original Victorian features such as stained glass windows, some encouraging 'Mens Sana in Corpore Sano' and some now enlivening the setting for committee meetings by offering views of angels playing cricket and other sports. The utilitarian appearance of the exterior was intended to epitomise an ascetic rather than sybaritic lifestyle and hydro visitors, firmly segregated by gender, were in early years expected to conform to the founder's strict nonconformist principles including abstention from alcohol. During the Second World War, Smedley's Hydro was a training base for Army Intelligence officers. By the early 1950s, it had ceased to be viable as a hotel and its purchase by Derbyshire County Council in 1956 saved it from disuse and the risk of demolition.
Matlock is also a gateway to the Peak District, much visited by tourists from at home and abroad, and a popular starting point for walkers. The Record Office's location on a hill overlooking the valley of the Derwent ensures healthy exercise for visitors who come on foot or by public transport. There is compensation in striking views of Masson Hill and Riber Castle, as well as in another chance to experience how Victorian and early 20th century buildings can be put to lasting practical use - in this instance, for historians using the County's several miles of unique archives and local studies sources.
For further information, please visit :www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/record_office / or email:firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 will see the launch of a new collaborative project by the Yorkshire Country House Partnership which explores the impact of war on the country house and its community.
In a series of linked exhibitions, trails and events, nine country houses will share their stories of how war has affected them over the centuries; influencing their use, occupation and ownership and, in many cases, altering the course of their history.
Through conflicts such as English Civil War, the Jacobite Risings and the Boer War as well as the two World Wars, the project will investigate the far-reaching social and economic consequences of war on country houses and their estates. It will also explore the impact of war at a personal level, through the experiences of family members, their employees and tenants, both in combat and at home.
Drawing on paintings, photographs, arms and militaria, as well as a rich selection of archival sources and oral histories, the exhibitions will highlight the pivotal role that war has played in shaping country house histories and lives of those connected with the house. To find out more about the exhibitions and events at each house:www.ychp.org.uk
Many local historians are asked to give talks to local societies, whose arrangements for guest speakers vary from the competent to the downright shambolic. Such problems are nothing new.
In the mid-1940s, there were many Prisoners of War (PsW) in camps all over Britain. The British authorities, through the Political Indoctrination Department of the Foreign Office (PID) were intent on politically indoctrinating them into democratic ideals. As part of the programme they regularly sent lecturers to the camps. The theory was that the camp authorities knew in advance who was coming, when and the topic of their lecture and that the PsW would be advised, since attendance was voluntary, though as one German observed, in some places the men were so bored that they would attend lectures on anything.
The lecturers had to report back to PID after each visit. Mostly the reports detail how the PsW responded to the material in the lecture, but not always. For example, Camp 672 was situated at Popham near Winchester. The lecturer remarked that his lecture was announced thus 'A lecture will take place on Tuesday at 8 pm.' and added that 'Not surprisingly attendance was poor'.
In the summer of 1946 the camp was relocated to Lockerley some 20 miles west of Winchester but the lecturers continued to travel to the now unsuitable Winchester station. One of them wrote of his experiences of trying to go to this camp on October 6th as follows:
There was a lot of confusion for several reasons; nobody had put the clock an hour back, there was no transport available to take me to the hostel and from the hostel to the station or from the Main Camp to the station, there was a very important football match of the Camp Eleven against Camp 1000 at the playing field of Camp 1000 which is rather far away, and the Camp Commandant was just being displaced by a new one. As a consequence I had the pleasure of going with the football team to Camp 1000 where I made acquaintances.
Camp 1000 was in the east of Hampshire at Oakhanger, some 60 miles from Lockerley.
It would appear that there was a continuing problem with looking after speakers at Camp 672 for another lecturer had a similarly bad experience later in October. He wrote:
This lecture visit was ill-starred since the German camp-speaker told me on arrival that he had been informed of my coming not before twenty minutes ago. As a matter of fact: no car had met me on the morning 9.30 at Winchester Station and I had great difficulties to get in touch with the camp. Not before 12.30 a car came from Lockerley (very far distant) to pick me up. All this to the effect that the idea of giving a second lecture at the detachment had to be given up (nobody knew anything about it) and I had to deliver my lecture before a very small audience, the men walking in the woods or playing football, etc. The long way back to Winchester shortened the time of my stay at the camp and nothing could be done. The German staff put it on the English and vice versa.
And some of us think we have problems…
This year the Yorkshire Archaeological Society celebrates its achievements over 150 years.
The Society exists to promote the study of Yorkshire's past. It was founded in 1863 (as the Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association) to promote interest in the history and archaeology of the Huddersfield area. In 1870 it expanded its interest to cover the whole of Yorkshire, and today it is the main society in this field for the historic county and is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
The Society has always been a broader historical society rather than a strictly concerned with archaeology in its modern sense. Its interests and activities are broad: lectures, excursions, publishing, and providing access to extensive library and archive collections. Its membership is drawn from archaeologists, academic historians, students and amateur historians.
In addition to the main Society there are special interest sections which arrange their own programmes of events and lectures: family history, industrial history, prehistory, Roman antiquities and medieval history.
Throughout its history the Society has been active in publishing articles on many aspects of Yorkshire's past and transcripts of important Yorkshire records. TheYorkshire Archaeological Journal was first published in 1869, and the Record Series initiated in 1884. The YAS also publishes material on Yorkshire's history and archaeology in its Occasional Papers and Archaeological Reports series. In addition, it has publications dedicated to transcripts of Yorkshire parish registers and the Wakefield Court Rolls. The latter produces calendared transcripts and translations of rolls from this amazing series of rolls which run from 1274 to the 1920s which must make it the most ambitious venture of its kind in the country.
The library collection of around 45000 works means it is probably the largest single resource for research on Yorkshire's past outside the British Library. Its archive collections mainly comprise deeds, estate and manorial archives and antiquarians papers and contain collections of local and national significance.
Although in the past the Society has undertaken excavation and other practical work, the Society no longer undertakes digs.
This year the YAS is celebrating its achievements by looking back and looking forward. In addition to its ordinary programme of events it has arranged a number of new and exciting events.
The year began with a joint lecture with the Huddersfield & District Archaeological Society to recognise the YAS's origins in Huddersfield. We, however, broke new ground in April, by holding a community dig in the Little Woodhouse area of Leeds near our headquarters. This was possible by partnership with WEA's HLF-funded Inclusive Archaeology project.
Visitors to Leeds City Museum will get a taste of the riches of the YAS's archive collections through a small display of manuscripts belonging to the famous Leeds antiquarian Ralph Thoresby (until June). A more ambitious exhibition 'Family Stories' will be on show at The Museum of North Craven Life in Settle, North Yorkshire this summer. To publicise our collections we have also produced 'The Yorkshire Archaeological Society: A Celebration of 150 years of Collecting' which we hope offers and insight into the fascinating and important library and archive collections in an accessible way.
In a landmark decision, an application to demolish one of the oldest houses in Howth, Co. Dublin, and replace it with a much larger one in 'mock Georgian style' has been refused by Fingal County Council. The Council was advised by the Department of Heritage that the house, 'Carraig Breac', had been remodelled and extended in 1859 by the eminent architect Benjamin Woodward, for the renowned physician Dr William Stokes. The latter's son Whitley Stokes translated the Danish ballad 'Hellalyle and Hildebrand', which inspired Frederick Burton's painting 'The Meeting on the Turret Stairs', selected recently as Ireland's favourite painting an RTE poll. The application was rejected not only because the replacement was deemed too large, but also because of the proposed felling of no fewer than 48 trees, and, crucially, because it contravene the pledge in the Fingal County Development Plan to protect, maintain and enhance the natural and built heritage of the county.
Martello towers are a familiar type of military fortification found around the east coast of Ireland as well as the southern and eastern coasts of England. Recently Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Fingal County Council jointly published a new and lavishly-illustrated book by Jason Bolton: Martello Towers of Dublin, tracing the history of the 26 examples built Bray, Co Wicklow and Balbriggan, Co Dublin in 1804-1805, as well as the ten contemporary coastal batteries. Intended to deter the French, the towers were modelled by the British on a sixteenth century structure at Mortella in Corsica.
Graphic designer and former architectural technologist Orla Fitzmaurice is undertaking a very extensive project to catalogue all the cottages [a form of council housing] that were built in Dublin during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of them were constructed to replace decaying and crumbling tenement buildings which had become unfit for human habitation. According to Ms Fitzmaurice, most were built in Dublin 1, 2, 4, and 8, and she is asking older people to help by providing stories or information about the people who lived in these cottages during the first half of the twentieth century. She considers that a vital source of knowledge about the houses are the people themselves, those who can remember the streets, their appearance and the families who lived in them. The project is linked with her other work, on trying to assemble a comprehensive oral history of pre-1960s Dublin. Visitwww.cottageology.com/dublin-city-cottages-project(email@example.com)
In an interesting reflection of the new perceptions of the turbulent years of early twentieth century Ireland, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin was the setting for a ceremony in August 2012 to mark the 90th anniversary of disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary in August 1922, and to remember members of the force and those from the Dublin Metropolitan Police who lost their lives during the War of Independence. Both forces were regarded by nationalists as representatives of the British state. It is estimated that 549 members of the R.I.C. and 14 of the D.M.P. were killed between Easter Monday 1916 and August 1922. The ceremony, including bible readings and wreath laying, took place at the communal grave site where more than 100 R.I.C. members are buried.
During late September 1912 some 237,368 men signed the Ulster Covenant, declaring their outright opposition to Home Rule for Ireland and their total support for Ireland to continue as an integral part of the United Kingdom. They swore to 'by all means resist Home Rule'. In addition, 234,046 women signed a similar declaration. Until 2014 the Ulster Museum in Belfast is holding a special exhibition, 'The Ulster Crisis: Irish Home Rule and the Ulster Covenant', with many artefacts, postcards, pamphlets, posters, and photographs from both the pro- and anti-Home Rule movements. A parallel on-line exhibition with about 1000 images is available at nmni.com. On Friday 28 September members of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party hosted a dinner in the conference room of the Titanic Belfast building to celebrate Ulster Day, the anniversary of the signing of the covenant. You can check to see who signed the Ulster Covenant by logging onto the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland website (www.proni.gov.uk) and clicking on 'Search the Ulster Covenant'.
Archives, galleries and museums
In 1922 the Army Council of the newly created National Army of the Irish Free State held a census of military personnel at midnight 12/13 November, to ascertain the exact strength of the new Army by location, for administration, logistical and operational purposes. The contents of this survey have now been released and the country's only military census is now available on the website of the Defence Forces' Military Archives (www.militaryarchives.ie). It includes very high quality images of the original volumes and is full searchable by name and other details.
In December 2012 Caitriona Lawlor, for eleven years the assistant to Sean McBride (1904-1988) the Irish and international politician, Nobel prizewinner and former chief of staff of the IRA, donated a collection of memorabilia belonging to him and his father, Major John Bride, to the National Museum of Ireland. John McBride was married to Maud Gonne, the iconic English-born revolutionary, and he was a key figure during the 1916 Easter Rising. He was executed on 5 May 1916 in Kilmainham Gaol. The items donated include medals and personal effects belonging to father and son and relating to the 1916 Rising and the subsequent War of Independence. Ms Lawlor donated the material so it can be displayed during the centenary of the 1916 Rising.
A new £5 million police museum is to be built in the grounds of the Police Service of Northern Ireland's headquarters at Knock, Belfast. It will replace the current one, which is housed in one small room so that hundreds of artefacts have to be kept in storage. The new museum aims to tell the story of policing in Ireland from the creating of statutory uniform policing in 1814 to the present day and will showcase some of the extensive collection of artefacts assembled over the years including uniforms, medals and documents.
In Dublin the Save No.16 Moore Street Committee has asked the Taoiseach and the Ministers for Arts and Culture and the Minister for Finance to support plans to restore the house where the leaders of the 1916 Rising decided to surrender. The committee proposes that the museum (nos.14-17) would return these buildings to their original condition, with the ground and first floors being used as public exhibition areas including the restoration of battlefield tunnels. Exhibits would include the 1916 Proclamation of Independence and the letter of surrender. The museum's second floor would hold archival material relating to the Rising. The committee has been campaigning for over ten years to save no.16 Moore Street, which was scheduled to be demolished in 1999 to create a Millennium Centre which never materialised. A decision on the museum will be made by Heritage Minster once an environmental assessment has been completed.
The National Gallery of Ireland is to receive a £17 million upgrade in readiness for the 1916 centenary. During the next two years the Dargan and Milltown wings, closed since 2011, will be substantially refurbished to provide large meeting spaces for government receptions, allowing the gallery to become a centrepiece for the commemorations. Some 80 per cent of the funding will be provided by the state. In the longer term, after 2016, the refurbishment of the National Gallery will be central to the better protection and display of the national art collection.
'Our Wicklow Heritage', County Wicklow's recently developed online Community Heritage Archive, focuses on the combination of people and places that make up the rich heritage of that beautiful county. As part of the national project, The Gathering 2013, people are being asked to contribute stories of individuals who have made a special contribution to Wicklow life, whether celebrities or little-known local heroes. Visitwww.countywicklowheritage.org and check out the stories submitted so far.
Some 2 million documents which currently form the archives of Dublin's celebrated Abbey Theatre are currently being processed by the National University of Ireland Galway as part of a project entitled 'A Digital Journey Through Irish Theatre History'. When this is completed in about three years the entire collection will be available to view online and will be 'undoubtedly the biggest digital archive in the world' in the view of Dr Patrick Lonergan, director of drama programmes at NUI Galway. The Abbey Theatre collection, which includes numerous prompt scripts complete with marginal notes and amendments, will allow scholars research not only the theatre but also key aspects of Irish cultural history. Aideen Howard, literary director at the Abbey Theatre, hopes that the numerous records and production notes will provide a valuable insight into how the theatre operates. On a more practical level, digitisation of the paper records will help in their long-term preservation.
In November 2012 a 32-foot long plan of the RMS Titanic, used in the inquiry into the sinking, went on display in the Titanic Visitors Centre in Belfast. Following the conclusion of the inquiry which found that the loss of the liner was due to 'excessive speed' the plan, which is in a remarkable state of preservation, was returned to the White Star Line which was taken over by Cunard in the 1930s. It has chalk markings made by engineers giving evidence to the inquiry, showing where they believed the iceberg struck the hull. The plan went into private ownership and remained so until it was auctioned in 2011, purchased by an anonymous buyer for £250,000, and donated for display at the centre. Nothing is known about the donor other than he or she lives in Ireland, has ardent interest in the RMS Titanic and wishes the public to be able to see the document. The Northern Ireland Audit Office calculated that the Titanic Visitors Centre needs to attract 290,000 visitors annually to break even. Managers estimated that in the first year of operation it would attract 450,000 visitors but in the first eight months since opening it in fact counted the remarkable total of 607,000.
Town twinning is a subject which local historians seem to have ignored, but from County Galway comes a report of a notably exotic link. During September 2012 the small town of Clifden, sixty miles beyond Galway city and next to the Atlantic in the far west of Connemara, celebrated its Mexican links. A local man, John O'Reilly, had emigrated to the New World and joined the US Army. At the outbreak of the war between the United States and Mexico in 1846 he and almost 200 others defected to the Mexican side and formed the San Patricio Brigade. When Mexico was defeated most of the men, though not O'Reilly himself, were publicly executed for desertion. He is a Mexican hero, and in his honour this little town on the west coast of Ireland is twinned with the Borough of Coyocoan, a suburb of Mexico City.
Until the Autumn of 2011, North Kesteven District Council held Building Byelaw records dating back, in the case of Sleaford, to 1894. These are vital records of the evolution of the town, most importantly the 500 1894-1930.
Even though the Council had been advised of, and accepted, the significance of these records, the whole lot has been sent to the tip.
Members of Sleaford History Group had known of these documents for some years, stored in the cellars of the Lafford Terrace section of the Council's offices, a quite unsuitable environment for them but acceptable as a temporary expedient. The then Chief Building Control Officer took a personal interest in their preservation.
In the Spring of 2011 the Chief Building Control Office retired. Before this happened, steps were taken to ensure that the Byelaws continued to be protected. An exchange of correspondence with the Chief Executive of NKDC confirmed that the Council was aware of the issue.
A third party had reason to enquire about the records in November 2011, only to be told they had been destroyed. This was subsequently confirmed. Given the Council's knowledge of their significance, this action was clearly either deliberate or the result of incompetence on the part of the Council.
It was of course too late to save the records*. The Council was therefore approached and asked three questions: who and on what authority destroyed the records; how the Council would apologise, publicly; and that donations should be made to the Sleaford History Group and the Sleaford Museum Trust. After much delay the Deputy Chief Executive said the records had been destroyed by the new Chief Building Control Officer (who apparently was not advised of the Council's undertaking to preserve them); the matter had never been reported to councillors, and he refused any act of contrition, no apology even.
Those with knowledge of local government would immediately say 'a case for the Local Government Ombudsman' - maladministration causing injustice. Unfortunately the Ombudsman said, following a review of his own decision, that the Council had no legal obligation to retain the records, therefore no maladministration, and injustice cannot occur to groups.
So there we are. If you are trying to secure the survival of records in the hands of a public body do not rely on letters from those in charge of the organisation. And in the event of failure to preserve, do not expect the Local Government Ombudsman to be of any assistance, even in holding the authority publicly accountable.
What a contrast to the city of Lincoln, where byelaw records from the mid C19th are carefully preserved, indexed and accessible with expert assistance!
*by a great stroke of luck, and index of Sleaford files to 1930, had been prepared It is also thought that some plan extracts have survived in copies. But the loss of the original records is a very serious one.
Against the stunning backdrop of Cheltenham Racecourse seen through the vast windows of the 'Panoramic Suite' BALH's regional conference opened with short presentations from BALH Chair Tim Lomas, the Mayor of Cheltenham Councillor Colin Hay, and Dame Janet Trotter, Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire and patron of the Gloucestershire County History Trust. Professor John Beckett then gave the keynote address 'The English Village' which raised many issues relating to the nature of villages and their communities, that set the stage most emphatically for the following day.
Starting bright and early on Saturday morning the programme of six papers ranged far and wide over time, place, sources and methods. Professor Tom Beaumont James began with an image of the Daily Mail reporting on the Black Death, and went on to consider how historians have differed in their analysis of the visitation. Its impact went far beyond the 'simple' calculation of death rates.
Kate Tiller reminded us that there is so much more to local war memorials than lists of names. She discussed the importance of the way decisions on style, price, location, and wording were made in local communities, and argued that the investigation and understanding of them is a fitting tribute for local historians to undertake as the anniversaries of the Great War approach.
Yate has been described as 'a town without a heart', and 'Gloucestershire's enigma', but Rose Wallis demonstrated how the community's growth from an isolated settlement to a lively railway village and then to a rapidly growing area since the establishment of the 'new town' in the 1950s gives it a history that is well worth exploring. The results of her work on this area, with many active volunteers based at Yate Heritage Centre, for Glos VCH will be appearing online.
After lunch Anthea Jones revealed the 'untold riches' of the Lloyd George survey of land values 1909, which people in Gloucestershire are so fortunate to be able to access online as a result of the project she is leading. She provided examples of questioning this data that is so valuable but somewhat awkward to access, to understand how communities have changed.
Nick Herbert took us into the depths of the Crown demesne lands of Forest of Dean. He traced the development of new settlements against the background of the very complex history of that area, from assarting in early medieval times, through waves of further expansion into the nineteenth century associated with the exploitation of mineral and timber resources.
Diana Russell is researching businesswomen in the first half of the 19th century. Her comparison between retail trades in Cheltenham and in Bath introduced us to some very enterprising women who were exploiting commercial opportunities in these two growing spa towns.
As this article goes to press, we await the outcomes of the consultation process on the new National Curriculum. The proposals were released in February 2013 and the consultation process ended on 16 April 2013. Subject to final decisions, it is the Government's intention that the final version will be published in autumn 2013 and that it will come into action from September 2014.
Amongst the subjects included in this new National Curriculum is history. This is the latest version of earlier versions dating back 20 years but this is considerably different from previous incarnations. On one level it is much briefer than earlier editions of the National Curriculum yet it is more specific in terms of content. The National Curriculum for history covers Key Stage 1 (for pupils aged 5-7), Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11) and Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14). History is not defined beyond this age group although it forms part of the English Baccalaureate used as a measure of GCSE success. Further proposals on history for students aged 14-19 are expected shortly.
Local history is mentioned at each of the Key Stages but, in all cases, it is general and lacks any specific detail. For example, in Key Stage 1 it decrees that the youngest children should be taught about "significant historical events, people and places in their own locality". In Key Stages 2 and 3 it is even vaguer. The draft version simply states that the pupils "should also be given the opportunity to study local history".
Much of the rest of the history document is reserved for a bullet point list of historical content. In many respects, Key Stage 2 is the most heavily loaded. There are 49 bullet points many involving substantial issues such as the Crusades , the Renaissance in England and the Glorious Revolution, constitutional monarchy and the Union of Parliaments. This Key Stage basically covers everything from the Stone Age to the start of the 18thcentury and has to be taught sequentially. The emphasis is on monarchs and political history. Key Stage 3 takes this forward to the present day covering elements such as Britain and her Empire, European power struggles, the Victorian era, industrial growth and key developments in the 20th century ending with the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Whilst BALH shares the sentiment of many in wanting the younger generation to have a framework for history particularly of their own country, it recognises that there are some challenges and uncertainties with these proposals. Teachers may well wrestle with issues such as how:
such a long list of content can be covered in any meaningful way in the time likely to be available for history;
sufficient time can be found for different types of history including a balance of local, national and global dimensions;
the teaching can incorporate the methods of history such as the use of evidence and source material;
to avoid giving a simplistic view of earlier history if such earlier periods have to be taught to the youngest pupils and there is no time to revisit such issues as they get older;
teachers will motivate pupils to want to study history further;
progress in the subject will be measured by teachers - or will it be confined to them just knowing more facts?
this curriculum will link with the later examinations such as GCSE and A-level which require different skills and processes;
teachers will be prepared for this new curriculum since few resources or support are expected. In the hands of non-specialist history teachers, there is a real danger of a simplistic and distorted presentation of the subject.
BALH has responded to this draft document and awaits the outcome of the consultation with interest. It is pertinent to note that this National Curriculum, unlike previous versions, is compulsory only for state maintained schools. Academies which already form a large majority of secondary schools and a growing number of primaries do not have to teach this version and it will be interesting to see how many seek alternatives. BALH's aim, however, remains the same - to provide advice and guidance on how local history can be most effectively incorporated into whatever emerges.
A Second Andover Miscellany
Andover History & Archaeology Society 2012
ISBN 978 0 903755 24 5
£9.50 + £1.50 pp from AHAS c/o Mill Pound Cottage, Monxton, Andover, Hants SP11 8AW
In 2008 this society published a miscellany of four articles that were too long to be included in their annual journalLookback at Andover but too short to appear as monographs. The success of that first volume encouraged this further collection of four papers written recently by members. Robert Tasker (1785 - 1873), whose business grew from a village blacksmith's forge to a major Ironworks, is treated to a thorough biographical essay. There is a detailed study of the development of water supply and sanitation in Andover and the vested interests involved, followed by an examination of the local influence of Dr George Vivian Moore and his enthusiasm for 'natural sanitation'. The concluding article is a fascinating analysis of the growth and roles of booksellers and printers in the town between 1725 and 1855.
Horsham Heritage 21 Autumn 2012
The Local History Journal of Horsham Museum and The Friends of Horsham Museum
ISSN 1470 8876 £5 (+ £1 p & p) from Horsham Museum shop or Secretary, Friends of Horsham Museum, 9 Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1HE
Horsham Heritage has reached its 21st issue. It serves as a forum for original research on many aspects of Horsham's history, publishing both substantial articles and shorter notes. Setting high standards, it shares the results of excellen local history work in the area. This issue illustrates well the hugely diverse sources, and broad the span of time in which our subject is interested. Beginning with St Leonard's Forest - firstly the early medieval St Leonard himself, and then an examination of the importance of rabbit warrens in the local early modern economy; and ending with Sunday afternoon family walks in the 1940s, the collection also includes Tudor clergy of Shipley, the surprisingly complex history of the Anchor Hotel, the life of philanthropist Edward Jenden, and the building of the Victorian mansion Wimblehurst by John Braby.
Tewkesbury 'Then and Now' Annual 2012
John Dixon. Tewkesbury Historical Society
ISSN 1742 6030
£7.50 inc p & p www.ths.freeuk.com/publications or firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the monthly Tewkesbury Direct first appeared in March 2009, John Dixon, President of the Tewkesbury Historical Society, has contributed a regular column Tewskesbury Then and Now. These have proved popular with readers, as have the annual compilations of the articles, of which we now have the one for 2012. Varied topics - the importance of the river, the arrival of the railway, challenges created by motor transport, swimming, a bank, a hospital and even a public convenience - are discussed succinctly and generously illustrated.
Not only does this generate interest in the town's history, but all surplus income over the cost of production goes to Tewkesbury Town Museum.
John Beckett recently wrote about attending Jury Day and the annual court leet at Laxton, Nottinghamshire on 29 November 2012 (see LHN February 2013). A month earlier, and 25 miles to the west, I had been no less honoured to attend the annual sitting of the Barmote Court at Chatsworth House. The barmote courts are another unique and statutorily protected survival from ancient forms of English law - in this case, regulating the lead-mining industry of the Peak District.
The courts themselves date back to the very early medieval period, and were already ancient when in 1653 Edward Manlove, their steward, wrote an account of their customs, traditions, procedures and arcane terminology ('The miners' terms are like heathen Greek / Both strange and uncouth, if some you would see / Read these rough verses here composed by me / Bunnings, polings, stemples, forks and slyder / Stoprice, tokings, sole-trees, toach and ryder / Waterholes, windholes, veins, coe shafts and woughs / Main rakes, cross rakes, brown henns, buddles and soughs').
There were formerly several such courts for different liberties, or geographical jurisdictions, within the High Peak, but now there are only two, one for the Duchy of Lancashire's mineral interests and the other for the Duke of Devonshire's. The latter was traditionally held at the wonderful grey limestone village of Monyash, but now it sits at Chatsworth House itself. And last autumn I was not only asked to attend but also invited to address the court, a singular honour.
By tradition the proceedings begin with the consumption of bread, cheese and ale - and very good they were, too. Then the officials of the court, together with two complete juries (one jury of 12 men each for two groups of liberties) and invited guests go to the courtroom in the converted stable block near the house. This is a fully fledged court of law, its powers most recently defined under the High Peak Mining Customs and Mineral Courts Act 1851, and the proceedings are therefore very formal. The steward of the court transacts the business, the jurors are sworn, each man kisses the great bible, and the barmaster oversees the proceedings. His main duties are (officially) to ensure the execution of directions from the stewards, to attend views of mines, to walk the field and see that works are well done, to see that royalties of lead are delivered to the Duke of Devonshire as superior lord, to see that justice is done between the mines, miners adventurers and the Lord, to apportion new veins discovered; and to collect fines. The current barmaster is a friend of mine, hence the invitation to speak.
But at the court which I attended there was no business of any sort to transact. Lead-mining in the Peak District ended with the closure of Millclose Mine near Darley Dale in 1940 and Magpie Mine near Sheldon in 1958. Even today, though, quarrying operations sometimes reveal veins of galena, the beautiful, brilliant, silver grey (and extraordinarily heavy) ore. Royalties are payable on such finds and, although they are sporadic, such payments must still be regulated by the barmote courts. In the old days, too, disputes between miners over rights to working veins and exploratory workings were numerous and often violent, and the barmote courts had full powers to adjudicate on these. With metal prices having increased dramatically in the past ten years, Peak District lead is once more viable. In 2013 or 2014 the first lead ore for half a century will be mined in the area, and the next barmote court may well have real business to transact. But without mines or miners, and with no lead raised in 2011-2012, the court held in November had nothing to do. The ancient rituals were observed and then we retired for an excellent dinner.
My short talk was about the history of the courts and about my own ancestors, my mother's direct forebears, who in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries owned lead mines and had shares in lead smelters in the private Liberty of Hazlebadge, which was outside the jurisdiction of the Dukes of Devonshire and instead in that of the Dukes of Rutland, their great rivals down the road at Haddon Hall. Giving the talk was a wonderful experience and it was accompanied by the consumption of a very unusual and exceedingly alcoholic green liquid, made to an ancient and jealously-guarded recipe and always served on these occasions.
Only one thing was missing. Until 2007, in accordance with another ancient tradition, after dinner all present were supplied with seven-inch long clay pipes and tobacco, and the after-dinner talk (and the green liquid) were enjoyed through a thick blue haze of smoke. But even the customary laws and the 1851 Act could not override the smoking ban so, I think rather unfortunately, this other piece of history is no longer permitted. I was given a clay pipe as a souvenir, but it remains unused.
I returned to education as a mature student through the Certificate in British Archaeology course held at Vaughan College in Leicester. The learning experience was a revelation. After completing a Geography degree, I became involved in Local History in the 1980s when I attended an MA course in Local and Regional History at Nottingham University, taught by Professor John Beckett and Dr. David Marcombe. These three disciplines have given me a very wide background to Local History, both in terms of documents and fieldwork. For my doctoral thesis I continued my work on the records of the ecclesiastical courts through a project on late probate documents in the Lichfield Diocese based at Warwick University. I produced a book, Church Court Records, for Phillimore in 1995, to encourage the use of these documents, and taught for a number of years for the WEA in Leicestershire and Derbyshire and given occasional talks for Staffordshire Archives. My interests as an independent scholar lie in the local history, archaeology and vernacular architecture of Leicestershire and Rutland. My BALH interests lie in the promotion of visits, courses and conferences for local historians, supporting independent scholars and local historical and archaeological groups.
Anyone who has looked at the BALH website at the moment (late April 2013) will see it is reduced to a single page. There have been two incidents in the last couple of weeks of VERY unpleasant hacking, and so this is the solution for the time being. We do hope no one was distressed by what was there; it would have been very obvious that something was wrong. The extreme (in website terms) old age of our site makes it very vulnerable to speculative hackers; there is no suggestion that this is targeted at BALH in particular.
The site has been 'cleaned' by our regular technical support people, and is being checked by a security specialist. We will take their advice on the wisdom of putting it back, and then keep a close eye for any more problems.
Meanwhile other forms of communication will operate as usual, and we do hope not cause members and friends any inconvenience. We can send booking forms for visits and events, and membership forms as attachments, or resort to old fashioned post.
The Management Committee has already acknowledged the urgency of re-building our website to bring it up to date, but of course that cannot be achieved in the very short term.
On page 36 in each issue of Local History News there is a list the Association's 'Officers and Committees'. We have been asked to follow up the Notes News and Issues page in LHN 105 where Tim Lomas and Jacquie Fillmore wrote about themselves, and provide mini-profiles of the other Trustees who sit on Council which is the main decision-making body of BALH. I am very grateful to Anne Tarver who volunteered to start, and you can read her contribution opposite.
Yorkshire Family History Fair
Up to four volunteers are needed to help Jenny Stanley and David Griffiths staff the BALH stand at the Yorkshire Family History Fair at the Racecourse, York, on 29 June. A complimentary ticket is available in return for an hour or two of your time. Please contact Gill Draper email@example.com'
At the Open Forum in March we heard about the Britain from Above project that is conserving 95,000 of the oldest (from 1919-1953) and most important photographs in the Aerofilms collection, and making them available in digital format on their website where you can also share memories and add local information to increase the value of this very special collection.
The next Open Forum will be on 12 October 2013, 1.30-2.30 pm at Senate House, University of London. The provisional programme is for Dr Nick Barratt to speak about 'Discovery', the new catalogue for finding records at The National Archives. Any member interested in joining us would be very welcome. There is no charge, but please contact us (so we know how many visitors to expect and you can be given directions) by email firstname.lastname@example.org or post to BALH PO Box 6549, Somersal Herbert, Ashbourne DE65WH
Visitors of all ages are being invited to dust off their chainmail and shine their shields for a special medieval day at Lancashire County Council's Archives Service on Saturday 15 June. From 11am to 3.30pm the office on Bow Lane, Preston, will be hosting a day full of family-friendly activities, talks and exhibitions aimed at exploring life in the middle ages. The day features an exhibition of medieval documents, including an illuminated book of hours from the 15th century, together with the chance to meet a team of medieval bookbinders and discover the art and skill of medieval bookbinding. Other activities include learning about birds of prey with Barn Owl Bill's birds of prey sanctuary, and listening to medieval stories for children with Dr Sarah Peverley from the University of Liverpool.There will also be two talks on medieval themes: 12.45pm: Medieval Memory and Commemoration - Dr Kate Ash, University of Manchester, and 2pm: Father Thomas West (1720-1779) and his medieval charters - Dr H F Doherty, Jesus College, Oxford.The event is free and visitors can book places for the talks in advance. For bookings and more information, please phone 01772 533033 or email email@example.com .
Berkshire Record Office has added a new short guide to their series, on the valuation lists and rate books they old from councils and parishes across the county. Rating records are great for tracking the history of a property, and for tracing people, particularly for when the census returns stop. When approached by the Thames Valley Network of U3A branches for ideas for their next project, it was suggested they research historic highways and byways of Berkshire, and develop walks based on their findings. Berkshire Local History Association www.blha.org.uk www. berkshirerecordoffice.org.uk
The latest issue of Magna, the magazine of the Friends of the National Archives, contains an article on the records available at TNA and elsewhere to research bomb damage during the Second World War. It contains very useful information that would assist with researching the impact of the war on communities, streets, houses, factories and other buildings, though 'sources for individual people are relatively limited'. Friendsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Old Bailey Proceedings Online has celebrated its tenth birthday, having attracted over 34 m page views since it went live in April 2003. A collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire, joined by the Open University for the second phase, the website contains a searchable archive of proceedings from Old Bailey trials from 1674 to 1913. April 1913 also marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of the last ever issue of Old Bailey Proceedings which had run almost continuously for 240 years. Two new resources have been added; 'London Lives' released in 2010 contains records relating to crime, poverty and social policy in 18thcentury London, and 'Locating London's Past', launched in Dec 2012, allows placenames from the Old Bailey Proceedings to the mapped onto John Rocque's 1746 map of London and the first modern OS map (1869-80).www.oldbaileyonline.org
The Scout Association Archive has been given a number of grants to catalogue, digitise and place online by June 2014 the papers of the founder of Scouting. The archive of Robert Stephenson Smythe Baden-Powell begins with his childhood sketches, photographs and school reports circa 1860s-1870s. The Army took him to India, Afghanistan, Malta, Ireland and Africa, experiences which he documented in scrap albums and diaries up to his retirement in 1910. Following the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908, Baden-Powell decided to create an organisation for those boys and girls who had started to form troops by themselves after reading the book. Documents in the archive show how he designed the badges/uniform, structure and training programme and dealt with political and religious attempts to steer the organisation in a different direction during the interwar period. They cover the first thirty formative years of the Scout Movement which now has a global membership of 31 million. www.scoutsrecords.org
A new website, http://edwardlear.westminster.org.uk/includes Edward Lear's journal from his first journey around Greece in 1848, together with some of the drawings he made whilst travelling. This project has been a collaboration between Westminster School Archive, which holds the only known copy of Lear's 1848 journal, and a number of museums, galleries and private collections which contributed reproduction of Lear's art work to illustrate the text. The website also contains the thoughts and comments of Charles Church (1823-1915), later Dean of Wells, Lear's travelling companion during the tour.
Arley Hall archives online: More than 6,000 housekeepers' receipts, workers' timesheets, and other family and estate records, as well as 18th-century maps of Cheshire, have been scanned and reveal how things have changed around Arley Hall and Gardens during the past 300 years. Historian Charles Foster headed the team who assembled the records and built the website. Charles, 81, is married to Jane, sister of the current Lord Ashbrook, whose ancestors have lived at Arley for 500 years. His interest in documenting Arley's history began many years ago when Jane's mother opened a cupboard door and revealed 800 medieval documents. Mr Foster has since sifted through more than 10,000 records collected from the Hall and the John Rylands Library in Manchester to put together the archive. Among the documents on the new website is a 1744 map of Arley, which shows a moat around the hall, a road cutting through the estate and no sign of the award-winning gardens the place is known for today. To view the records go to www.arleyhallarchives.co.uk.
The catalogue of the papers of Leonard Cheshire is now online. In addition, there is a call for any memories of Leonard Cheshire to celebrate his association with 617 squadron during their 70th centenary year. Please see http://www.lcdisability.org/
Local and family historians are set to benefit from a proposed £2.5m expansion to Nottinghamshire Archives. The county archives, in Castle Meadow Road, Nottingham, hold four miles of historical documents dating as far back as the 12th Century and the proposed expansion will create space for at least 20 more years of documents
In his editorial for the April 2013 issue of Fram, the journal of the Framlingham & District Local History & Preservation Society, M V Roberts reflects on the importance of preserving documents relating to holding office for voluntary organisations: 'one should hand over not just the 'seals of office;' but also the records of one's tenure of a position'. And he has given his children clear instructions for the appropriate dissemination of his personal correspondence, file-notes, photographs and diaries. 'Our individual legacies to our successors comprise more than cash, property and memories of our life and works. They also include the image, artefacts and paper trail of our personal interface with the world from which we have departed. That trail should not be lost'.www.framlinghamarchives.org.uk
NEWS FROM LIBRARIES
Just after our February issue of Local History News went to press, local libraries received a significant amount of media coverage due to National Libraries Day on 9 February. Amidst the disturbing statistics - that 212 libraries closed in 2012, and half local authorities in England, Wales and N Ireland are looking at alternative ways to run their libraries - the Financial Times focused on the success of private libraries: 'havens of books, conversation and cultural events with histories stretching back centuries'. Despite some (but not all) hefty subscriptions, membership of these venerable institutions is growing around the country, demonstrating that traditional libraries are still desired by people. There was a BALH visit to the Newcastle Lit & Phil in March 2012 (see LHN 103 p 28) and in October this year there will be a guided visit to the London Library. Financial Times 9.2.13
Items from historic collections damaged in a fire at theNational Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, will be dried by salvage experts after suffering water damage. An investigation is under way after a section of roof on what is known as Building Two was destroyed on Friday, 26 April. The library has reopened to the public. The fire affected an area largely used as office space and for new acquisitions. Up to 300 staff and 100 visitors were led to safety when the alarm was raised on Friday afternoon. It took 50 firefighters nearly four hours to bring it under control.
The Institution of Civil Engineers Image Library is a newly launched resource containing a vast collection of images from the ICE archives. Amongst the many fascinating pictures - of much wider interest than simply to civil engineers - are the London Metropolitan District Railway and Manchester Ship Canal under construction, and Cooke's views of London 1834. New images are being added regularly. http://ice-imagelibrary.com/
Could your society develop a special relationship with your local university library? Members of the Thoroton Society are entitled to borrow from the East Midlands Collection within the Manuscripts and Special Collections Department of Nottingham University Library. The University welcomes members of the public to use the resources in the Reading Room but Thoroton Society members can be registered as external borrowers. Information on the East Midlands Collection can be found at www.nottingham.ac.uk/mss/collections/east-mids/ www.thorotonsociety.org.uk
I was interested to read the item in LHN 106 on the future of York Libraries and Archives. It should be pointed out that the proposal to put the service into a community benefit society is contested. There is concern that budget cuts proposed for the next two years amount to £450,000 - or 20% - of current funding:
•how can a new organisation flourish with such cuts?
•sharing buildings is cited as the main source of savings: why outsource the service to do this?
•what guarantees are there against further cuts?
•what happens if the new organisation fails to balance its books?
•how will pay and conditions for library staff be protected?
•what guarantees that libraries will continue to be sited close to where people live, and in public buildings?
and in October this year there will be a guided visit to the London Library. Financial Times 9.2.13
The British Postal Museum and Archive has three touring exhibitions that are available for hire. 'Our aim is for as many people as possible to see our exhibitions'. 'Last Post: remembering the First World War' that explores the vital role played by the Post Office during the 1914-18 War will be at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop, Stockbridge, Hants from 25 Match to 27 September 2013. 'Designs on Delivery' is being exhibited this year through an exciting partnership with Paintings in Hospitals, a charity that uses visual art to enhance healthcare environments. From the 1930s the Post Office became a leader in poster design, commissioning some of Britain's best artists and designers. The exhibition is at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, until 27 June. www.gwh.nhs.uk www.postalheritage.org.uk
The latest exhibition at Chertsey Museum, that runs until 15 June, is called Hair: the Styling of Society. Sources of inspiration for hairstyles over the centuries is a little researched subject, and there is much of interest to think about. This exhibition has been guest curated by Denise Wald a student at Royal Holloway, University of London who is studying for a Masters in Public History.www.chertseymuseum.org.uk
A major expansion is planned at Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum, to develop a 1950s town and a 1980s zone. The project is expected to take 10 years, and they are asking members of the public to donate everyday items from both those decades.www.aim-museums.co.uk www.beamish.org.uk
Collaboration between the British Schools Museum,Hitchin Historical Society, the Friends of Charlton Village, and Hitchin Museum has resulted in an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Henry Bessemer whose 'Bessemer Process' resulted in the mass production of steel which had such a huge impact on industrial development. It was opened in February by his great-great-grandson, and regrettably closes on 2 June. www.britishschoolsmuseum.co.uk
The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex has published a new, and beautiful, book Houses of the Weald and Downland: people and houses of South-East England c1300-1900, by the Museum's social historian Danae Tankard. Focusing on eight houses from their collection, the author offers a special insight into the social, economic and living conditions of the periods in which they were built as well as examining details of their architecture and construction. www.wealddown.co.uk
Oxford University's Continuing Education Department has run its well-established Advanced Diploma in Local History via the Internet for many years. There is also a vast range of other online courses, many of them for just ten-weeks, when topics such as Learning to Look at Western Architecture, Investigating the Victorians, Exploring Roman Britain, and English Poetry of the First World War can be studied at home, but in structured contact with a tutor and other students over the internet. Go to www.conted.ox.ac.uk and follow link to online courses.
In this issue of LHN BALH chair Tim Lomas sets out the issues raised by the revised National Curriculum for local history. Changes are also of concern to museums, as if study of the Victorians and early 20th century moves from KS2 to KS3 there will be fewer school visits. 'Children will miss out on the opportunity of high quality out-of-classroom experiences relating to the UK's rich heritage from the Victorian era and the history of the two World Wars'. The loss of school visits could also threaten the sustainability of some museums. AIM April 213 www.aim-museums.co.uk
Carl Boardman has recently retired as manager of Oxfordshire History Centre. Committed to widening access to local archives he established the interactive Dark Archivist website, aimed at 12 - 16 year olds, to overturn 'the traditional perception of archives as staid and boring'. If you don't know this site, do go there! www.darkarchivist.com/
The University of York has launched a new digital archive recording the memories and histories of some of the people who have helped shape the institution over the last 50 years. Part of the university's 50th anniversary celebrations, the oral history project has recorded and transcribed the recollections of a wide variety of people. They include Vice-Chancellors, former students, founding fathers, current academic and support staff, as well as people from the wider community. The first fifty interviews, carried out by historian and journalist Greg Neale, founding editor of the BBC History Magazine, are now being lodged in the university archive in the Borthwick Institute and will be available later this year . Excerpts from a selection of the interviews are available online via the University's 50th Anniversary website at york.ac.uk/50/history/oral-history/
Further to our brief reminder about the bicentenary of John Snow's birth (LHN 106 p 17) readers might be interested in the following news item. A postgraduate geography student from the University of Southampton has 'remapped' data from 19th century epidemiologist John Snow's famous map of London cholera outbreaks, transferring the lifesaving information to modern day street layouts. Robin Wilson says: 'John Snow represented the deaths in each Soho street using rectangular blocks - the more blocks, the more cholera deaths which occurred at that location. It was a simple, but breakthrough way of visualising geographical clusters of disease, and ultimately saved many lives.' Now Robin has brought Snow's map into the 21st century by painstakingly geo-referencing every cholera death and pump location and transferring this to modern day maps of Soho, while also providing the digital tools for others to create their own versions. He comments: 'I have taken John Snow's original data and digitised it, allowing it to be overlaid onto modern maps and analysed using modern methods'.www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2013/apr/13_58.shtml