Local History News Number 122 Winter 2017


1. In the footsteps of a prince Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

I recently bought a copy of the 1928 edition of Philip’s Handy Administrative Atlas of England and Wales, a purchase which has brought much pleasure because it captures in a series of 57 county maps and nine general ones the local government, parliamentary and ecclesiastical geography of the country ninety years ago (and has an excellent set of statistical tables giving the population and acreage of every division, unit and authority). You’ll understand and appreciate my satisfaction, I feel certain.

The purchase was made on-line, and the price was extremely reasonable, almost as though there was no demand for this volume, which if it is the case I find completely inexplicable. The condition is very good, though the spine is slightly battered, and the brightly coloured maps in their shades of blue (county boroughs), yellow (municipal boroughs), pink (urban districts), green (rural districts) and red (boundaries) look fine. Who could fail to love it!

The on-line description of the book noted that there was a ‘Previous owners inscription’ (sic), but what did that minor defect matter when I was able to purchase this pearl beyond price? However, the previous owner’s inscription is in fact fascinating, and leads to fascinating historical speculation, for stamped in red on the inside cover and again on the first blank page is a circular badge, in the centre of which are three feathers, and round the edge in capitals the legend * PRIVATE SECRETARY * H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES. Under the second stamp, someone has written, with a neat hand in now-faded ink ‘1928’.

So, here’s my direct link with one of the most celebrated figures of the twentieth century. I don’t imagine Prince David picking up my atlas and leafing through, curious to know the exact location of Lathom and Burscough Urban District, or the population of the Isle of Axholme Rural District. After all, he was so famously ignorant of the printed word that he once asked Thomas Hardy in person, over lunch, to tell him who was the author of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. But may I imagine that his private secretary, Sir Godfrey John Vignoles Thomas, 10th Baron Vignoles of Wenvoe in the County of Glamorgan, leafed through it, planning one of the tours which the playboy prince was forced to make, reluctantly and grudgingly, instead of going to the South of France or some other more glamorous place.

I picture the scene. Sir Godfrey consults with the prince’s assistant private secretary, the far more illustrious and much better known Alan Lascelles, about where the prince should go. He picks up my atlas, and turns to a suitable county. It’s 1928 and the Great Crash has yet to happen, so no need to show his handsome face in those simply ghastly places in South Wales or the North East. How about a little expedition to somewhere more agreeable? He leafs through its colourful pages and pauses at Devonshire, observing the helpful table listing the 18 rural districts, noting the two county boroughs, ten municipal boroughs and no fewer than 23 urban districts in that well-provided county.

He sketches out an itinerary on his pad, wonders about railway travel on the GWR or the SR (the maps helpfully show all railway lines), muses on whether his petulant and oh-so-easily bored royal master (a 34-year-old child) will behave properly. Do any of the mayors of the twelve Devonian boroughs have a seducible wife ... let’s hope not, because that’s an even worse risk. With a sigh, he closes the book on his desk. Now, almost ninety years later, it’s open on mine. 

2. Engaging community and primary school audiences Show more → Show less ↓

Lucy Harris

I have worked in two roles at the Imperial War Museum, London, providing First World War learning and engagement to community groups and schools.  This article focuses on community groups and primary schools.

As First World War Centenary Programme and Partnership Coordinator from October 2014 – December 2015 I coordinated and assisted members of the Centenary Partnership.  This was set up to engage the public with the centenary of the First World War, mainly through the online community engagement platform, www.1914.org.  There are now over 3,600 members of the Partnership from 61 different countries: not-for-profit organisations programming events, projects and exhibitions that highlight the lives of men and women who lived through the First World War.

The Centenary Partnership engages with its community via meetings, and learning and information resources on its website.   Partnership meetings are held regionally with a central theme around which projects are discussed.  Images, film, documents and sound supplied by the Centenary Partnership can be used for learning resources, exhibitions and displays.  They offer IWM content in its most raw form, so sources can have members’ captions, prose and exhibition design added.  The Partnership also produces guides on how to engage with school audiences. The website is simple, and updated regularly. Conversations on the forums and comments should be replied to every day.  It should make the community feel engaged in every process and offer ownership over resources produced. 

The museum’s main objective is to be a place of learning where people can learn from the experience of others. When teaching a primary school group about the First World War it is important to make sessions as interactive as possible; for example, with object-handling activities. As Samantha Cairns, trustee of the UK Group for Education in Museums, argues, ‘Students regarded the information they learnt at the museum as authoritative. They seemed to prefer sessions that gave them the opportunity to become immersed in the past and engage their emotions.’(i)  Considering this, we arrange a simple exercise that sparks the children’s imagination and engenders empathy for the histories that they learn.

Handling boxes tell First World War stories, using items from our collection.  For example, that of Khudadad Khan, who was awarded the Victoria Cross. His box has photographs, wartime recruitment posters from the Empire, a Khulla (part of a turban) a belt with machine gun ammunition (contemporary to the First World War), medals (replica) and a clip from the Battle of the Somme film of soldiers firing a machine gun.  The students can handle the objects, view the film and work out Khudadad’s First World War story.   

The Imperial War Museum tells the meta-narrative of the wars through the micro-narratives of people’s personal experiences, so handling boxes correspond with the museum’s approach.   Learning a history through an individual’s experience means engendering a degree of empathy, learning a personal story. Statistics are placed in perspective. Viewing individual stories also avoids making sweeping generalisations about the War.

To fully engage primary school students for an hour and a half a variety of activities focus on the central theme of the handling box.  Children are encouraged to become ‘experts’ on the story of their person and objects within the box.  Then we ask them to imagine that they are museum curators creating a museum display and that they should lay out their objects in a way that conveys this.  We then ask each group to choose two people to be ‘experts’, and the rest become ‘visitors’.  ‘Visitors’ travel round the tables and ask the ‘experts’ question about their display. ‘Visitors’ and ‘experts’ then swap so each child has the opportunity to hear a different story and see different objects.  This keeps the pace moving and the children interested.

Finally, a few further tips for engaging primary school children with the War:

Make the activity relevant, based on historical fact.
Think of a theme that underpins the activity – personal stories, home front stories or the Western Front, for example.
Don’t avoid more difficult topics. It is vital for historical balance that the raw evidence of wartime suffering is not hidden, though activities for young people need to be tailored so content is appropriate for their age, and is not traumatising.
Keep the pace moving: organise a variety of activities around a central focus.
Repeat facts, and encourage pupils to consider objects from different angles, again through the variety of activities.

Lucy Harris was a Learning and Engagement Officer, Imperial War Museum, London.

(i) Samantha Cairns, ‘ “Teaching” Challenging History’, Challenging History in the Museum, International Perspectives, (Surrey, 2014), p. 229.

3. Gateways to the First World War Show more → Show less ↓

Dick Hunter

Gateways to the First World War Engagement Centre aims to encourage and support public interest in the centenary of the First World War through a range of events and activities. On Armistice Day community groups from around the country came to the University of Kent to share their work. A highlight was a stunning recital exploring the life of war poet Ivor Gurney through his own words and music. And two engaging presentations: on Edith Elizabeth Appleton with extracts from her diary A Nurse at the Front, introduced by descendant Dick Robinson, and read by Alison Fell who researches nursing history. This was followed by Brad Beaven and Melanie Bassett from Portsmouth University on Jutland’s National Impact: Civic and Community Responses in Britain. This was a fine example of collaboration, with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, and with genealogists from the University of the Third Age, Portsmouth. Thanks to Mark Connelly and the Kent team for a memorable day.

4. Bringing history to life Show more → Show less ↓

The civil parish of Crigglestone and its ecclesiastical parallel of Chapelthorpe are fortunate to have Keith Wainwright as their historian.  He has lived there all his life, and for over half a century has been collecting, curating and conserving the history of this former mining area. His father was a surveyor  at a local pit, all long since closed.  In his profession as a mining engineer he has a deep knowledge of the mining geology of the area, and this if course had a profound influence on the lives of the people.  Over the years, Keith has been closely involved in the community in a number of ways, as a parish councillor, school governor, and church sacristan and head chorister.

In the 1970s Keith produced a booklet and exhibition on the history of St James’ church, and created a heritage trail, and annual Rogation-tide walk around the Chapelthorpe boundary.  Since then he has written, published and spoken about the area’s history in its great variety, encapsulating the day-to-day life of the community together with more dramatic events such as tragic mining disasters and the world wars.

Sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm, and encouraging others to participate is very important for Keith. Not only does he provide information to enquirers, often those exploring their family roots in the district, but he also advises on the practice of local history, to get more people actively committed to their own research. His vast collection of material which constitutes the parish archive is a superb starting point. His meticulous attention to detail is matched with his approachability, to get people involved and appreciating the delights of uncovering times past.

Keith organised a ‘Historical Extravaganza Exhibition’ in the parish church in 2015 which attracted a huge audience and raised nearly £2,000 for church funds. A visitor commented on Keith’s generosity with his collection and his time, and particularly with the way in which he was able to engage the young people who were there – a boy of about 12 ‘hung on Keith’s every word as he used the photographs and record books to explain what it was like to go to school in the village years ago’.  His skill as a communicator reaches young and old.

As one of his referees put it ‘there is something very special about the way Keith uses his collection to share local history with the community to bring people together’.

Thanks to, Jean Froggett, Tina Froggett,  John Seacombe and Keith Wainwright.

5. Railway families Show more → Show less ↓

Hannah Reeves

`The ‘railway family’ was an idea constructed by railway companies and trade unions in order to inspire the loyalty and support of railwaymen and draw their non-working wives and children into a wider railway community. In order to understand the idea of the ‘railway family’ in practice, this article presents a case study of Gloucester.(i) Gloucester has not often been utilised as a case study for the railway industry. The focus has tended to be on larger railway centres such as Swindon, Crewe or Derby; however, Gloucester was an important centre to two competing railway companies - the Great Western Railway Company and the Midland Railway Company (London Midland and Scottish Railway Company from 1923). As home to two railway companies and multiple trade unions, Gloucester is an ideal place to explore the idea of the ‘railway family’ and this article will focus on the work of the Railway Women’s Guild (henceforth, the RWG) in the town.

The Guild was an auxiliary of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) for their member’s wives and daughters. It was founded nationally in 1900, “for the purpose of affording means of social intercourse amongst the wives and daughters of railway workers of the district; to render such assistance to any of its members as may be necessary; to co-operate with the local branch of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (NUR from 1913) in any worthy object they may undertake.”(ii) The Gloucester branch of the Guild was founded in 1902, meeting in local Sunday School rooms until moving into the Labour Club and Institute. Membership of the Guild grew steadily from 1902; 27 members initially joined the Guild on its foundation. This had increased to 64 members by 1911 and 84 members by 1925.(iii) During the 1930s and 1940s, membership of the Guild fluctuated.

The RWG acted first and foremost to fulfil its aims as a support group for the NUR particularly in times of labour unrest. They sat on strike and relief committees and organised support, both financial and moral, during the railway strike of 1919 and the General Strike in 1926. The members of the RWG also became involved in local and national politics. They supported the Labour and NUR candidates in elections, raising money for campaign funds and attending meetings and demonstrations. Members of the Guild also stood for election themselves, onto the Boards of Guardians, Gloucester City council and the Labour Party Committee. There was a great sense of pride amongst the Gloucester RWG branch when one member, Mrs Prosser became the first female magistrate in Gloucester in the 1920s.(iv) In this way, the idea of the ‘railway family’ was mobilised within the local community to support the trade union and political objectives of railwaymen. The idea of the ‘railway family’ was constructed around traditional notions of the family, with the male breadwinner as head of the household and wives as homemakers who took care of the children. This, in part, explains why the wives and daughters of trade union railwaymen were so committed to supporting the NUR campaigns which focused on improving the working conditions and wages of railwaymen.

The RWG in Gloucester also utilised their position to support other members of the ‘railway family’, especially women and children. The Guild was a key fundraiser for the NUR Orphan Fund and the Gloucester branch of the RWG was the first branch to set up their own Widow’s Fund, in order to support members widowed through accident, ill health or old age, in 1911.(v) The Guild also had a role to play within the wider local community, particularly when it came to supporting other women. Their most high profile campaign was for improved maternal and infant welfare facilities. The Guild passed a resolution in 1913 to support baby clinics, which stated “that in view of the high infantile death rate and the large number of children who enter school suffering from physical defects – we urge the Government to encourage local authorities to establish baby clinics for the medical treatment of babies and children under school age, and to make grants from the National Fund.(vi)” This resolution was sent to the local press and received letters of support in the newspapers from local politicians. The Guild worked closely with another women’s group in Gloucester, the Women’s Co-operative Guild, to campaign locally and nationally on this issue. The Maternity and Child Welfare Act was passed in 1918 and included a number of elements which local councils were not obliged to provide, including infant welfare centres, salaried midwives and health visitors.(vii) The Guild spent the inter-war years persuading Gloucester Council to institute these elements, which the local Medical Officer of Health Reports demonstrate that they did with some success.(viii) Not all RWG branches supported their local communities, and particularly women and children outside the idea of the ‘railway family’, quite as vociferously as the Gloucester branch did. Although this campaigning was not part of the intended aims of the RWG when it was founded in 1900, Guild branches were given the freedom to choose their own campaigning agenda; the skills and experience that Guild members gained supporting the NUR were utilised within the local community.

It is clear that the RWG in Gloucester did not just limit themselves to supporting the NUR, but became involved in campaigning for improvements in the working and living conditions of women both locally and nationally. By organising fundraising events, submitting resolutions to local and national Government, sitting on committees and gaining election to local councils, the Guild was utilising the skills of their members and the greater social and political freedom that women were achieving during this period in an attempt to improve the lives of working-class women and their families. This was a substantial extension to the concept of the local ‘railway family’.

The idea of the ‘railway family’ can be found in a variety of sources including the railway company magazines held at the National Railway Museum, railway trade union newspapers held at the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University and the British library, and in the archives of local record offices. My focus on Gloucester has been dictated by the sheer number of records that Gloucestershire Archives hold on the RWG however the idea of the ‘railway family’ is applicable across the railways of Britain.

(i) This work comes from my thesis entitled ‘The ‘railway family’, 1900 – 1948’, an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award between Keele University and the National Railway Museum, York

(ii) Railway Women’s Guild (RWG) minutebook, 1901 – 1910. Central Organisation Fund, Minutes of Proceedings, 1901. Uncatalogued, Labour History Archive and Study Centre, People’s History Museum, Manchester

(iii) The Railway Review, Modern Records Centre, Warwick, 14/11/1902, MSS.127/AS/4/1/13 and RWG Gloucester minutebook, Gloucestershire Archives, 30/11/1911, D3128/6/1 and 12/02/1925, D3128/6/4

(iv) Gloucester Journal, 24/7/1920, p.2

(v) The Railway Review, 27/10/1911, MSS.127/A5/4/1/18

(vi) RWG minutebook, 06/11/1913, D3128/6/1

(vii) Thane, Pat, ‘Women in the British Labour Party and the Construction of State Welfare, 1906 – 1939’ in Koven, S. and Michel, S. (eds) Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of the Welfare State (Routledge, London, 1993), p. 363

(viii) Medical Officer of Health Reports, 1928, pp. 23 – 24, Gloucestershire Archives GBR/N2/11/3

6. GB1900 – Computerising ALL the place-names of Britain Show more → Show less ↓

The GB1900 project needs your help to transcribe all the place names on the 2nd edition County Series six inch maps of Great Britain, published by the Ordnance Survey over thirty years around 1900:


Once volunteers sign up, they click on the map next to the start of each name, and type the name into the box which pops up, the system automatically recording the location. The project builds on an earlier project led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the National Library of Wales, Cymru1900Wales, which in 2013/14 similarly gathered just over 300,000 transcriptions from the same maps for Wales:

GB1900 works with maps of the whole of Great Britain from the National Library of Scotland, so there is much more work to be done – maybe 3-4m. “names”.
The NLS map scans are higher quality, enabling more names in smaller type to be identified.
Cymru1900 excelled at getting people to transcribe each name ONCE, but for reliable results we need a second matching transcription. GB1900 has a new system of coloured pins that change from green to purple if that second transcription matches, to brown otherwise. Brown marks all names that you have transcribed or tried to confirm, so names that are brown for you are green for everybody else.

Which of the strings of text on the map are “place names”? Rather than give complicated instructions, we ask you to transcribe ALL text except these kinds of numerical information, easily obtained from other sources:

Spot heights, either numbers by themselves or preceded by “BM”.
Areas, usually for parishes, which appear below parish names in “Acres”.
Distances to nearby towns which appear next to milestones.

This means we are gathering the name of just about every hamlet, farm and wood, but also diverse other kinds of information; for example, the location of every well (“W” on the maps) and pump (“P”); “Land liable to floods”; and many kinds of factory.

GB1900 launched in late September. By the start of December we had recruited over 400 new volunteers, gathered 1.6 million transcriptions and confirmed 500,000 names. However, there is a long way to go and we need you help:

Progress is slower in the north, and in urban areas.
We will need a few expert users, some ideally with GIS skills, to help systematic completion.

The raw data from the system will be available under the most open Creative Commons license, so anyone can use it as they wish. However, we aim to create two versions of a GB1900 Gazetteer, both simplified to a single confirmed text string plus a coordinate, one further removing non-place names. During 2017, we will be adding a new more detailed place search facility to our web site A Vision of Britain through Time, displaying results on the six-inch mapping.

Contact us at gbhgis@port.ac.uk

Humphrey Southall for the GB Historical GIS

7. Enriching the List Show more → Show less ↓

Jane Golding

Can you help us enrich the List? https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/enrich-the-list/

In June, Historic England launched a crowd-sourcing project that opens up a new layer of the National Heritage List for England, and invited individuals and organisations to help keep the List rich, relevant and up-to-date.

The history of our land and its people is marked in the fabric of England’s buildings and places. The most significant of these are listed, so they can be understood and protected for the future. The List has almost 400,000 entries from palaces, piers and pigsties to cathedrals, windmills and rollercoasters. This unique record can be searched online for free.

The List started its life in 1882, when the first powers of protection were established and contains information on listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, registered parks and gardens, and battlefields.

Pre-1984 List entries are often quite brief, providing little more than a short description of the place. More recent entries on the other hand, will usually include a detailed list entry explaining why the site was listed and highlighting its interesting features.

A major challenge for Historic England is how to deal with this legacy of hugely variable list entries. Recognising the wealth of knowledge held by local historians, we are inviting you to share this expertise and help enrich the List.

Since launching in June, we have received over 16,000 contributions from people and groups who have enriched the List with photographs, historical events, social history or information about the architecture or archaeology of a site.

‘I find ‘Enriching the List’ very easy to do. Initially I was a little daunted by the dos and don’ts in the instructions but decided to go ahead. I have added about three dozen contributions about timber church-towers and turrets, a particular interest of mine, which are in general not particularly well described in the listings. I intend to make further contributions including some on a wider range of listed buildings. In some cases the need to avoid people and car number plates in photographs is frustrating but I understand the reasons why. The National Heritage List is a splendid resource especially now that it includes maps showing the location of the buildings. Adding photographs and further information can only make it better.’ Liam Tiller.

(https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1368468 to view Liam’s contribution entry to Church of All Saints, Goosey, Oxfordshire)

We hope more BALH members will want to get involved. If you have any queries or feedback please email EnrichingTheList@HistoricEngland.org.uk

Jane Golding is Heritage Information Partnerships Manager, Historic England

8. ‘Sound and Art @ St Swithun’s, Worcester’ an Inspirational HLF project  Show more → Show less ↓

Will Scott & Joanna Mattingly

The cover of this issue shows a water-colour illustration of the interior of St Swithun’s church Worcester in the early 20th century.  Showing the impressive early 18th interior, reminiscent of a Wren or Hawksmoor church, it was found in a Penzance second hand bookshop by one of the authors of this piece.  St Swithun’s church dates from 1734-6 and was probably the work of the Woodwards of Chipping Campden, and is one of a handful of good early 18th century churches in Worcestershire.  The artist Walter Monckton Keesey (1887-1970) was an architect, etcher and graduate of the Royal College of Art.  His publications include sketchbooks and postcards of Cambridge in 1913, Harrow, 1914 and Canterbury in 1915 and postcards including the Sherborne almshouses in Dorset and Portsmouth, Hampshire. 

St Swithun’s, Worcester, a Grade I building, is currently the focus of a major HLF project to ensure that it does not become a building at risk.  Tightly hemmed in, St Swithun’s is open to the narrow Church Street on the south, between the High Street and the Shambles.  It faces a confluence of streets to the east where it shows the most prominent architectural display.  Although it remains a consecrated church, services are only held occasionally and its main role now is as an arts centre hosting literary, music and art festivals and other events.

The HLF project ‘Sound and Art @ St Swithun’s’ builds on these roles and aims to create an inspirational sensory space.  In particular, to interpret significant heritage in new, exciting and accessible ways using fresh mediums – sound, light, smell and touch.  Among the project outputs are the repair and conservation of the fabric of a nationally significant building as well as enhanced facilities including new heating, lighting, toilets, kitchenette, Wi-Fi and improved access.  Crafts skills training will be delivered through two apprenticeship positions and a number of traineeship and internship opportunities for students, job seekers and inmates at HMP Hewell as part of a resettlement to work programme. An activity plan using art and sound is being developed with schools, and mentoring for new artistic talent.  There will be two part-time posts of Centre Manager and Learning Officer and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities. This exciting project is intended to strengthen Worcester’s 2019 bid for Heritage City Status.  The timetable is April 2017 submission of round 2 HLF bid, and March 2019 for completion of construction work.  Costs stand at over 2 million with £241,000 still to raise by summer 2017.  Keesey’s drawing is this year’s Christmas card.

If you want to know more or wish to get involved contact Sarah McCabe, Project Development Officer, tel 07833 087718 or email smccabe@thecct.org.uk.

9. The UK Association for the History of Nursing Show more → Show less ↓

Stuart Wildman

The UK Association for the History of Nursing is a voluntary organisation that aims to promote the development and dissemination of the history of nursing. We are a small group that encourages scholarly work and public outreach through our annual online publication, known as the Bulletin and an annual History of Nursing Research Colloquium in which we invite the submission of papers for presentation. The UKAHN is also a constituent association of the European Association for the History of Nursing (EAHN).

There are no formal membership requirements or subscription fees as the Association is intended to be inclusive and anyone, nurses or non-nurses, historians (nursing or other speciality), holders of appointments in universities, local historians or interested individuals may contribute to the Bulletin or the annual Colloquium. An individual from any part of the world may be part of the UKAHN, and thereby become a member of the EAHN. As well as our commitment to forging international links we are particularly interested in seeking out connections with local historians across the UK, who may wish to be involved.

We welcome contributions to our Bulletin, on any aspect of the history of nursing, whether it is a scholarly article or work in progress. We also publish book reviews, biographies of nurses, reminiscences, and descriptions of historically important buildings, grave sites, memorials or artefacts with nursing connections. Guidelines for publication and past editions of the Bulletin are available on our website (free of charge). If you have material or an idea that you think would suit our publication then please contact Dr Stuart Wildman, the editor, at s.wildman@bham.ac.uk.

This year the History of Nursing Research Colloquium will be held on 28th June 2017 at the University of Huddersfield.  All are welcome to attend and submit papers for inclusion. These can cover any aspect of nursing history, including work in progress. The Colloquium has a proud tradition of providing a supportive environment and space for researchers to present work in progress and obtain feedback for further development of their research. Please submit abstracts of approximately 250 words in the format:



Aims & focus of the research

Methods and / or sources

Key areas for discussion


Deadline: Friday 31st March 2017, to Prof. Janet Hargreaves J.hargreaves@hud.ac.uk

Finally, in 2017, we are launching our first ever Annual Nursing History Writing Competition which is open to all resident in the UK who are interested in the history of nursing. There is a £100 first prize and this essay will also be eligible to be published in the UKAHN Bulletin. The closing date is Friday 31st March 2017. Details of this and all our activities can be seen on our website at www.ukahn.org

10. The Christopher Collier Bequest and Anglo-Saxon studies Show more → Show less ↓

Phoebe Merrick

Our local history society, was left a bequest of £26,000 by a former member, whose interest had been the early years of Romsey Abbey, a Benedictine house of nuns founded in the tenth century.

We decided that we should spend the money on a project named in his memory and neither hoard it nor fritter it away on small items. In view of Christopher’s long-term interest in the Saxon abbey here in Romsey, we decided to embark on a three-year study of the locality of that abbey and the area in which it was established. We decided to limit our study to the neighbouring parishes of the Hampshire Basin and to exclude those on the chalk, which in any case are further away.

By doing this we forced ourselves to look at a landscape that has been largely overlooked by Anglo-Saxon scholars in favour of the chalk. Although we have some members who have specialised in early medieval studies, we decided that we needed up-to-date professional guidance, so are spending much of the money on buying help from the University of Winchester, which has a very fine early-medieval department.

We started by collecting up the scraps of knowledge-cum-folklore that seemed relevant and discovered little of it withstood examination. As one member put it, we made a net loss of ‘knowledge’ in the first weeks of our project.

Our parishes lie on either side of the River Test and one source that was available to us was land charters with boundaries, mostly from the tenth century. However these were only to be found on the east of the river. This highlighted how different were the two sides of the river. We have spent much time examining these charters and have largely determined where their boundaries lay. We did this partly by examining maps, but also by field trips, outings to examine different places where we wanted clarification. Another field trip took us out looking for ironstone on which the local smelting industry had been based in the mid-Saxon centuries.

We had no such aids for the west of the River Test, but examination of maps, ancient and modern, brought home some aspects of settlement that we had not appreciated before. In particular, except in the town of Romsey, there was very little in the way of nucleated settlement across our area. Mostly the ancient farms of the areas acted as nodal points on routeways, but they had not even developed into hamlets.

Some of our members have learned how to use digital mapping and data derived from LIDAR. This makes our discussions much more focussed and probably less speculative. We have made a preliminary review of field names but have much more work to do on place-names. Currently we are looking at museums to see what relevant material they may hold.

Jointly with the University of Winchester, we held a conference on Saxon settlement in river valleys that attracted 180 people. Our autumn exhibition, for which I hoped an attendance of 50, attracted 400 visitors. We have one more year’s research to go, and then we will write up what we know and identify what we don’t know.

Website: www.ltvas.org.uk/anglo-saxon-project

11. Communities of Dissent - A new research project for family and community historians Show more → Show less ↓

Kate Tiller

Religious dissent, its impact and changing role, is the focus of a new research project for family and community historians.

This is the latest major venture of the Family and Community History Research Society (FACHRS).  The society was established in 1998, initially by former Open University students of courses in social, family and community history who wanted to continue their involvement in active research, including shared, major projects done collectively and comparatively by members throughout the country. It has continued independently of the OU with current membership of over 250, of whom on average around 50 take part in major projects. Previous themes have included Swing riots, allotments, and almshouses.

Now attention is turned to the local history of Nonconformity, with Dr Kate Tiller of Oxford University as Project Director. Researchers will begin by assessing the presence of religious dissent in their chosen locality during the heyday of Nonconformity from 1850. In the following period ‘Chapel’ was a widespread and significant feature of local and national life, often drawing on proud earlier antecedents, but now with enhanced status and scale. To be ‘Chapel’ was an important source of choice and identity for individuals, families and groups. It touched not only on the spiritual but also the social, educational, political and cultural aspects of people’s private and public lives. The presence of Nonconformity gave a distinctive character to many communities.

The Communities of Dissent project will involve participants in two phases of research. Phase One ( February-September 2017) will produce a  profile of local dissent, recording (or recovering a record of) its buildings - chapels, schools, Sunday schools, meeting rooms, institutes, ministers' houses- and making an initial assessment of the Nonconformist culture of which they were part. A range of ‘universal’ records, including the 1851 religious census; population census; directories; newspapers; standing buildings; large-scale OS and other maps; 1910 Domesday; denominational magazines will provide a shared basis for comparative local profiles of Nonconformity. This profiling will also reveal the extent of surviving evidence for local chapels and lead into Phase Two of research (2017-18) involving the in-depth use of chapel records, links to other sources and analysis on topics chosen from a range of possibilities according to researchers’ interests and the available source material. Research guides, case studies and a dedicated website will be provided. The FACHRS spring conference at the University of Leicester, 6-7 May 2017, will feature plenary contributions from Kate Tiller and project participants and a project workshop.

Researchers have now been recruited in 50 locations (see map below). If you are interested in the project please see www.fachrs.com . If you may have relevant information on the Communities of Dissent being researched you can contact Janet Cumner, the project coordinator, at chapel.project@fachrs.com.

12. BALH and Wales Remembers/Cymru’n Cofio 1914-1918 – an update Show more → Show less ↓

Maggie Escott

The Welsh Government plays a major role in the First World War (FWW) Centenary Partnership, so, on behalf of BALH (a fellow partner), it is always a pleasure to keep abreast of developments in Wales, where museums, archives services, libraries and local and community history groups and societies continue their excellent collaborative work on multi-disciplinary commemorative projects. These have much in common with but differ significantly in emphasis, focus and language to similar projects elsewhere.

2016 – the year of the film – has been widely marked by centenary screenings of the British documentary and propaganda film The Battle of the Somme, the work of the official cinematographers Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell; but in Wales, the defining feature of the Somme has been the role played in the battle by the Welsh regiment - the 38th – who ‘successfully’ attacked German positions in Mametz Wood, 7-14 July 1916, but lost 4000 men from battalions drawn from all Welsh regions and the London Welsh in the process. Centenary services of commemoration and reconciliation were held in July at the Welsh Dragon Memorial at Mametz Wood, Llandaff Cathedral, Caernarfon Castle and towns and schools throughout Wales http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-36703678; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-36735044. The National Museum of Wales exhibited a privately held painting of the battle by Christopher Williams (1873-1934); the Welsh National Opera celebrated its own 70th anniversary with a world première of In Parenthesis, the harrowing personal account of the battle in verse by David Jones (1895-1974), adapted by the composer Iain Bell. Jones’s work, archives and artefacts also inspired a major exhibition, lectures, gallery talks and discussions at the National Library of Wales, where they were complemented by award winning photographs of the battlefield area by Aled Rhys Hughes. The National Library continues to play a pivotal role in co-ordinating, collecting, digitising and collating evidence from war memorials, regimental records, newspapers, local and family archives - including diaries, letters, photographs and oral histories - in order to  safeguard them and to facilitate the profiling and commemoration of the FWW’s fallen, together with the survivors and the home front in Welsh communities. The 200,000+ items already digitized provide a useful and accessible research tool for local historians and schoolchildren of all ages. More will follow. The Welsh Experience of the First World War 1914-1918.

Turning northwards, the centenary of the creation of the Frongoch internment camp in Merionethshire, to house Irish republicans detained following the Easter Rising of 1916, has inspired Welsh academics and others to look afresh at war weariness, pacifism and the quest for home rule in Wales and Ireland. In November, Caernarfon hosted the ‘Weeping Window’ cascade of ceramic poppies from the NOW Blood Swept Lands and Seas installation, first exhibited at the Tower of London in 2014. It coincided with the projection onto the castle walls of the names of the fallen together, where possible, with their photographs.

In Cardiff on 8 November, the Welsh Assembly Government’s third centenary lecture by Lt.-Gen. Jonathon Riley explored the Christmas truces of 1914 and 1915 from the perspective of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, as depicted in rare regimental, photographic, written and oral sources originally created by officers and ordinary soldiers and their families in Wales and Germany. The attendant bilingual exhibition at the Pierhead Building, compiled by the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum and partners in Germany, Belgium and France, offered individual, military and local perspectives on these international events. https://www.youtube.cobm/watch?v=GeTd8XTkMmc&t=731s.

Local research initiatives also progress well. Heritage day at Laugharne on 12 November, saw the official opening and launch of the community and local history society’s WW1 project. FWW sources, stories and artefacts were on display; the impact of the war on the community was described from oral histories, correspondence and newspapers; there were tableaux and posters by the scouts and primary school children, presentations on RCAHMW War memorials and a small exhibition on the arrival of Belgian refugees, some of whom stayed for life. A keynote lecture by Steve Johns of the West Wales War Memorials Project, drew on records he shared with the Laugharne researchers and focussed on the wartime experiences of local men and their families.

The 2017 Wales Remembers/Cymru’n Cofio programme will be announced on 28 January. It will include profiles of the Welsh at the Battle of Passchendaele, which was filmed contemporaneously by the Canadian forces, and focus on Ellis Humphrey Evans, better known by his bardic name Hedd Wyn, who wrote the winning ode at the 1917 National Eisteddfod in Birkenhead while serving in the Flanders trenches but died in battle shortly before he could be honoured – the eisteddfod chair was draped in black. Projects concentrating on the home front in FWW Wales, which remain of great interest to BALH members are now gradually being completed and further details and presentations are expected in 2017.

13. Public Lectures and Public Tours at the Society of Antiquaries, London Show more → Show less ↓

In autumn 2016 I heard the second of The Society of Antiquaries’ public lectures which had a local history aspect: the Relics of Battle Abbey. This was given by Dr Michael Carter who is senior properties historian at English Heritage. He opened up for the audience the content and nature of an inventory (c.1436) of the Abbey’s saintly relics, many of which, he argued, had been given by the Conqueror himself. The proximity of Battle to the Channel coast and ports meant that subsequently it also acquired relics of saints associated with the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. These saintly body parts, such as bone, hair, blood and soil from the Holy Land, were understood as having miraculous power, and a breviary or service book of the Abbey suggests their veneration on various days of the year, including its Feast of Relics on 3-5 May. The Abbey was largely destroyed at the Dissolution but it is possible some of the relics were kept by its purchaser Sir Anthony Browne. Dr Carter will be publishing the inventory in an academic journal and English Heritage will be producing a ‘visitor experience’ about the relics at Battle next year. His lecture will be available on the Society of Antiquaries website, where details of its public lectures and tours can also be found https://www.sal.org.uk/

The Antiquaries’ public lectures on certain Tuesdays are free, and beforehand you can take a tour of its fascinating Burlington House apartments which house its library, museum and collection of art, artefacts and manuscripts. These public tours cost £10 and must be booked in advance, as is advised for the public lectures.

Gill Draper, Events and Development Officer

14. The Islands of Kent Show more → Show less ↓

Gill Draper and Paul A Carter

As a maritime county, Kent has a number of islands, although not all of them are now surrounded by water! On the north Kent coast there are Hoo Peninsula and the Isles of Grain, Sheppey and Thanet.  In south-east Kent is, or rather was, the Isle of Oxney, an inland island. It lies to the north west of Romney Marsh and separated from it by the estuary of the River Rother, which runs past Bodiam Castle and down to the town of Rye, Sussex. Romney Marsh lies at or below sea level and Oxney is a large hill over 10m above sea level. The Rother has channels both south and north of Oxney, making it an island.  Works in the 1330s diverted the main channel to the north and caused the rise of an important late medieval shipbuilding site at nearby Small Hythe where royal ships were constructed. The channel was redirected to the south side in 1633. Oxney had three parishes of 11th-century date of which Ebony was on a little hill of its own, later called Chapel Bank.  Across the Rother from Ebony was a hamlet called Reading (Street) where a wealthy man named John Raynold lived in the early 16th century in a newly-built house, and there was also a chapel at Reading. In 1521 Raynold made his will and requested burial on the south side of the church of Ebony ‘nigh unto Our Lady Chancel’. He then bequeathed £2 for the building of a new chapel of the church over his burial place. This was to be a chantry for him and his wife, and he bequeathed lands worth £12 yearly for its foundation. He also left £3 for the causeway from his house and bridge to Ebony to be rebuilt. The church was apparently hit by lightning in Elizabeth’s reign. By 1858 the hamlet of Reading Street was bigger than that of Ebony, hence Ebony church was dismantled virtually stone by stone and rebuilt by the side of the road at Reading Street where it stands today.

The Hoo peninsula and the Isle of Grain were (and perhaps still are) the proposed location of Boris Johnson’s new ‘London’ airport. In fact there have been four proposed sites, one on an artificial island in the Thames off the Hoo Peninsula, two on Hoo and one on the Isle of Grain, which forms the eastern end of Hoo Peninsula. On visiting Hoo, placards opposed to this proposed airport still lie around country lanes. The peninsula features in early medieval charters, for example a 9th-century estate at Higham whose boundaries are given. Large parts of Hoo and Sheppey (‘sheep island’) remain remote and charming with small fields bounded by lanes running on reclamation walls, some dating from the late 12th century (as on Romney Marsh). Other parts have been transformed by industrialisation, starting in the early 19th century with Cliffe cement works. A new dual-carriageway runs across Grain, together with giant surveillance cameras erected after Greenpeace activists scaled Kingsnorth power station. Grain’s little medieval lanes are falling out of use, so see them now- or never.

The Isle of Grain was separated from the rest of the Hoo peninsula by the Yantlet Creek, at whose northern end a ‘London Stone’ marked the boundary of the jurisdiction of the Port of London (on which read Great Expectations or watch the excellent BBC 3-part serialisation by Phelps). Yantlet Creek was part of a major sailing route from the Thames to the Channel from the Bronze Age to 17th century. Mariners sailed eastwards passed Hoo, crossed the Medway Estuary (or West Swale), sailed along the river Swale south of Sheppey, down the Thames again and then south through the Wantsum Channel, which separated ‘mainland’ Kent from the Isle of Thanet until the later 17th century.

For the work of local historians on these islands, see The Hoo Peninsula Landscape, ed. S. Newsome et al (Historic England, 2015), and the websites of Romney Marsh Research Trust, rmrt.org.uk and Kent Archeological Society, kentarchaeology.org.uk .

15. News from the North East Show more → Show less ↓

Win Stokes

2017 may well be seen as a turning point in the development of North East history and heritage projects. Among others two in particular are worthy of note.

The redevelopment of the role of the North East Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers in Newcastle.

The relocation and reorientation of the collections formerly held in the Museum of the Durham Light Infantry in Durham City.

A third The Land of Oak and Iron project focussing on the Derwent Valley to the north and west of Gateshead is in the pipeline.

The Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers , in its late 19th century heyday the centre of mining and engineering based innovation not only locally but nationally and internationally had by the 1980s suffered a tragic decline, mirroring that of the coal industry itself. The central building constructed in 1872 in memory of one of its founding fathers and a Victorian Gothic masterpiece houses a library of incomparable value to researchers into every aspect of mining history with complete runs of both the Institute's own transactions from its inauguration in 1852 and those of related organisations. It has also a unique collection of manuscript colliery 'view books' (the records kept by the early mining surveyors) dating back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. With its fate in the balance for the past twenty years or more the Institute has now secured funding for its development as a centre that will not only secure these collections and promote greater public awareness of the region's industrial past  but also provide a space to debate its future.

Unfortunately for those of us who regularly use its facilities it appears that this will involve a period of closure in 2018 but I'm sure that some provision for access to materials will be maintained.


The decision by the cash strapped Durham County Council to close the Durham Light Infantry Museum at the end of March 2016 was greeted with howls of indignation. The argument that the 1950s building was no longer fit for purpose had some validity but the emotional attachment to what had been the county regiment was and is, profound. It seemed peculiarly ham fisted to close the museum in the midst of a nationwide commemoration of a war in which the regiment had played so large a part. However the compromise solution arrived at between the Council, the University and the very active Friends Group may well prove a successful way forward. The renovated extension and exhibition space in the University's Palace Green Library close beside Durham's magnificent cathedral is committed both to a permanent display gallery and a series of  annual themed exhibitions using materials from the former museum's collection. The first of these on the Somme campaign proved a major tourist attraction in the summer and autumn of 2016. The Council has provided a dedicated unit at Seven Hills, Spennymoor with environmentally controlled storage facilities for the rest of the object collection and a research and study area for the extensive library. There volunteers from the Friends group including military  experts are available to supplement the work of the professional curators. The research facilities are excellent although for the moment access is limited to two days a week. An impressive outreach programme aimed at schools and community groups has already begun to operate offering workshops on various aspects of WW1 as it affected the men of the DLI and their families and using material from the collection most of which would not have been on display in the old museum. 'The Bugle' the twice yearly magazine of the Society of Friends of the DLI collection along with its regular Newsletter continues to disseminate research findings, articles of interest and information about events to its members and will assuredly benefit from the interest generated in those touched by the outreach programme .


16. News from Societies Show more → Show less ↓

Scottish Local History Forum’s e-newsletter is called ‘Clish-Clash’ which means repeated gossip, which is the whole idea – sharing local history news and information. Their website has very up-to-date events listings from member local history societies around the country, as well as publications, events and other news from the Forum itself. www.slhf.org.

Avon Local History & Archaeology’s Local History Day 2017 will be held on Saturday 22 April at University of the West of England Frenchay campus.  The topic will be The Street. Speakers from different parts of the area will look at various aspects of streets at different dates in different places, over different periods of time and will outline changes visually, environmentally and socially. www.alha.org.uk

Saturday 11 March is the date for Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology Buildings Recording Group day on Vernacular Buildings in Grantham.  The programme includes visits to important buildings in the town, as well as talks. On the afternoon of the following day there is a ‘Sunday Special’  with presentations on aviation heritage, Stamp End railway bridge, and Sixhills. www.slha.org.uk

Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. They have plans for a range of events to mark this achievement and to reflect on changes over the last half-century. They will also be embarking on a new gazetteer of industrial archaeology in the region. The first one was published by David & Charles in 1969, and there was subsequent edition in 1987. Time for a new one. www.b-i-a-s.org.uk

Meldreth Local History Group has a backlog of work on the website, and members are being asked to help. Recently added new pages (there are nearly 600 now) include a series on building materials used in the village. Current projects include Law & Order, and Meldreth Football Club. In addition to their own website at www.meldrethhistory.org.uk they have a section on the Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network site, and are on Facebook.

Fownhope Local History Group has followed up their first publication, Fownhope Remembered, by delving beyond oral history to chronicle everyday life in the Herefordshire village in Victorian and Edwardian times. Their second publication, Fownhope Beyond Memory, draws on an exhaustive search of more than two thousand press reports, census, and farm and business accounts and ledgers. The 228 page book ,  is available from Pippins, Fownhope HR1 4PJ, price £12 plus £3 postage – cheques made to FLHG.  The Group is also planning to put many of its searchable databases onto the website, ranging from censuses from 1831 to 1911, voters lists and trade directories. Their Newsletter Editor can be contacted on revmdees@btinternet.com

Christchurch History Society launched its new website last summer, and the online catalogue was added in the autumn, all made possible by a Heritage Lottery Fund  grant. An article in their Journal explains what all the tabs are for, and they have also been  running a series of free afternoon ‘awareness’ sessions to introduce members who are less confident with a computer to both the site and to the process of searching the catalogue. These will continue to be arranged to meet demand. www.historychristchurch.org

We seem to be mentioning various different online ‘presences’ in this issue.  Formby Civic Society  have the FCS Flickr Archive https://www.flikr.com/photos/formbycivicsociety for their image collection, both old and new. Recent additions include the visit of Dame Shirley Williams (formerly the local MP) to open the Ravenmeols Trails. This project, under the leadership of Dr Reg Yorke, and with the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership who gained HLF funding to produce special signage for the two trails ‘Lost Resort’ and the ‘Devil’s Hole’.

Two years into their World War One commemoration work with local schools and youth organisations, Burbage Heritage Group has launched a new appeal for funds to commemorate a local war hero from an earlier time. Sharrad Holland Gilbert was 93 when he died in 1961, a veteran of both the Boer and First World War having served 35 years with the Leicestershire Regiment. He wrote with distinction -'Rhodesia and After' - his exploits in the Leicestershire Imperial Yeomanry during the Boer War was considered a masterpiece of its genre and was republished in 2004. He was a widower without children and when he died his resting place in St Catherine's Churchyard was never marked. Local historians Greg Drozdz and Stephen Kellaway together with the Burbage Heritage Group have launched an appeal to rectify this situation and erect a memorial cairn headstone. Donations to the fund would be very gratefully received and should be made payable to The Sharrad Gilbert Memorial Fund and sent to Mrs Sylvia Whitworth, 121 Church Street, Burbage or further information can be obtained from www.burbgeheritage.co.uk

Framlingham & District Local History & Preservation Society have developed their online historical photo archive since 2008. It has recently been updated with a fresh look, and they have moved the hosting to a charity based organisation which has reduced the cost to the society. Members are encouraged to visit the site, contribute images and information, or to use the computers in the library. www.framlinghamarchive.org.uk

Southwark & Lambeth Archaeological Society do not yet have a website, but they are seeking a member who would volunteer to help them make this important and increasingly essential development. They also need someone to take responsibility for IT at meetings, especially trouble-shooting. (comment from editor – it is always reassuring when arriving to speak to be told that there is a person there who will ensure nothing goes wrong with laptop or projector or microphone!). Good luck to the society in finding these valuable people. Newsletter editor davecarter25@gmail.com

The 2016 Manchester Histories Festival was a huge success and the next one is already being planned for 2018. Meanwhile projects and events under their banner continue, and their website has an excellent blog to tell you what is going on.


Hatfield Local History Society has now added all their newsletters, from issue number one published in June 1990, to their website, demonstrating the issues of interest and how they have been covered over the years. Beginning as ‘Hatfield this Century’ following a WEA local history course in Spring 1990, the group changed to its current name in June 1999. www.hatfieldhistory.uk

Canterbury Historical & Archaeological Society has funding available to award of grant to individuals researching any aspect of the history and archaeology of Canterbury and the surrounding area, normally to a maximum of £500.  The closing date for applications this year is 30th June 2017 For further details contact the Hon Sec of the Grants Committee beechings@supanet.com or see their website www.canterbury-archaeology.org.uk/grants

An article in London Colney Local History Society magazine The Record demonstrates how business had to adapt to changing economic circumstances, ‘diversification’ is not new. The many inns in the area suffered when railways took away stage couch traffic, landlords started to think of ways of making their hostelries destinations in their own right.  One example is illustrated here, the Bull Inn proclaimed that ‘Beanfeasts and Cycle Parties’ were catered for, ’Good Stabling’ was available, together with ‘Quoits and Skittles’. www.londoncolneyhistory.co.uk

Oxborough History Group run an interesting variation on the more usual pattern of meetings and events. They meet quarterly, with a guest speaker. Then on the first Monday of every month (except in the depths of winter) there is History Open Day in the village hall when everyone is welcome to have a cup of tea or coffee, browse the documents, photographs and books, or research the archive. Items can be copied or scanned, and they welcome questions and donations to their collections. www.oxboroughhistorygroup.org

Leominster Historical Society are focusing their 2017 programme on local historical research. In March Clare Wichbold will give us a talk about the Lottery Funded Project on St John's Walk alongside Hereford Cathedral. In the summer the society will be making a visit. Liz Round will be updating us in April on her recent research into the Battle of Cursneh Hill which was just northwest of Leominster.  To round off the year in December, Sarah Arrowsmith will be looking at the symbols and make-up of the Mappa Mundi housed in the Chained Library of Hereford Cathedral. For our full programme and visits just search for Leominster Historical Society UK.

Warwickshire Local History Society will be holding its AGM on Tuesday 21 march 2017, the business meeting will be followed by a lecture from Dr Andrew Hopper from Leicester University’s Centre for English Local History on ‘Bereavement and loss in the civil wars in Warwickshire’.  www.warwickshirehistory.org.uk

Bedfordshire Local History Association’s annual conference will take place on Saturday 24 June 2017, hosted by Bedford Architectural, Archaeological & Local History Society. The theme will be ‘Bedford through the Ages’. www.baalhs.org.uk

Nottinghamshire Local History Association will be holding the AGM and Spring Day School on Saturday 1 April 2017 at Ravenshead Village Hall. The topic will be ‘Dissent’. www.nlha.org.uk/event/nlha-agm-spring-day-school/

Following the success of the 2016 Good Friday History Walk, in which over 200 people took part, Abbots Langley Local History Society will be arranging this year a May Bank Holiday History Walk. They have obtained permission to visit areas that were once part of the Ovaltine Dairy Farm; what was once the Ovaltine Egg Farm, and the facade of the old Ovaltine factory will also be on the route.  www.allhs.org.uk

On page 29 of this issue of LHN William Evans reviews a second excellent work of historical fiction by John Orton, and  suggests it is a genre more local historians might consider. In a recent issue of Rickmansworth Historical Review from the Rickmansworth Historical Society Graham Martin suggests there is a place for ‘qualified conjecture on events to help the reader gain a better appreciation of their context’, when documentary evidence is short.  He offers an example entitled ‘A church tower rebuilt: Rickmansworth 1630’. www.rickmansworthhistoricalsociety.btck.co.uk

The 2017 conference of the Cornish Buildings Group will take place on Friday 7 April at the Burrell Theatre, Truro School. The programme will be based around the subjective topic of architectural design, and will explore the question ‘what architectural design philosophy is appropriate for ‘a land apart’? The built environment makes an indelible mark on the landscape. Amongst the presentations will be one from English Heritage on the competition for the proposed new footbridge to link the remains of the medieval castle’s island to the mainland wards at Tintagel.  https://sites.google/com/site/cornishbuildingsgroup/home

When Bridport History Society held a ’Show and Tell’ evening last year, six members brought various items to show the group. Amongst them was an early 19th century doctor’s notebook belonging to Richard Prideaux (1782-1818). He trained at Guys Hospital and became a ship’s surgeon in the Napoleonic Wars. The book is a record of his patients over this time and lists their names, the medicines prescribed and the cost of the treatment.  Newsletter editor email william633@btinternet.com

17. News from Museums Show more → Show less ↓

A new museum opened in the Autumn is dedicated to the works of William Heath Robinson. Located in Pinner Memorial Park in north west London, it is the first new purpose-built museum in Greater London for over 40 years. Students form the Heath Robinson Inventors’ Club at St Helen’s School, Northwood, created a special contraption to cut the ribbon, it was triggered by Michaal Rosen.  www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org  www.aim-museums.co.uk

‘Intrepid Women Travellers’, on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2017 at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RL. Celebrate and be inspired by amazing women travellers including Elizabeth Fox Tuckett, Ellen Tanner and Adela Breton. See original objects and talk to the team of curators and experts. Ticket includes a glass of wine and exclusive viewings of the Adela Breton exhibition and Egypt Gallery. This event is organised in partnership with the West of England & South Wales Women's History Network. Further details will shortly be available on the BMAG website http://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-museum-and-art-gallery/whats-on/ and the WESWWHN website http://humanities.uwe.ac.uk/swhisnet/index.html

An exhibition at Bruce Castle Museum, Tottenham until March 2017 explores the story of the London bus that went to war, and reveals how the lives of local Tottenham people were affected by the First World War. This community exhibition was co-curated by young volunteers and London Transport Museum. www.ltmuseum.co.uk/collections/projects-partnerships/battle-bus, or search online for Bruce Castle Museum

For the first time records of nearly 12,000 soldiers from five Irish regiments disbanded after the Irish War of Independence in 1922 have been made available online. This new resource, digitised with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been launched by the National Army Museum and gives access to the regiments’ enlistment books for the years 1920-22. The records can be accessed for free, and searched by unit, place of birth, place of documentation and year of documentation; also there can be a description of the soldier’s character and what happened to them after discharge.www.nam.ac.uk/soldiers-records/persons

The annual exhibition for 2017 at The Twickenham Museum is titled ‘Working for a Living – in Twickenham, Whitton, Teddington & the Hamptons’.  The first recorded businesses included Hampton Ferry, already in existence in 1519.   www.twickenham-museum.org.uk/news.php#19

Museums at night this year will take place on 17 – 20 May 2017. www.museumsatnight.org.uk


There are over 1,200 independent museums in the UK  

They attract 9 million visitors a year  

They provide nearly 6,000 jobs supported by 100,000 volunteers

 The sector is worth up to £930 million to the economy

AIM e-news November 2016

18. News from Libraries Show more → Show less ↓

Amongst the events at the British Library this winter there is a Family Day on 25 February  inspired by the current exhibition ‘Maps and the 20th Century’; a talk on the Art and History of Calligraphy on 2 March; a panel discussion on 8 March (International Women’s Day) ‘Rebels in the Archives’; and David Kynaston delivers the 2017 National Life Stories Lecture (13 March). For further details of these and many more events www.bl.uk/events

From February to June 2017 ‘Stories of the Saints’ is an exhibition at the National Library of Wales, Oriel Gallery, Aberystwyth. It demonstrates the survival of medieval traditions about holy men and women who represent an important part of the country’s cultural inheritance. During February half-term students from Aberystwyth University will be running workshops for children to learn more about the legends of Wales with stories, craft, drama and music. www.llgc.org.uk

Local Studies in Telford & Wrekin is one panel on an amazingly packed A3 folded sheet of information from Wrekin Local Studies Forum.  Library services and contact details, information from more than a dozen organisations, plus a calendar of events from September 2016 to March 2017 demonstrated the vibrancy of interest in the area.  The Forum meets quarterly to share and receive information, expertise and resources. The mailing list includes representatives of local and family history societies, civic societies, reminiscence groups, museums, archives, libraries, colleges and local authorities.   www.wlsf.org.uk

Epsom & Ewell Local & Family History Centre, located at Ewell Library, is a non-profit making community service run by volunteers. Their website ‘Epsom and Ewell History Explorer’ has a vast amount of information, with alphabetical lists under each of the dozen or so main categories, in addition to usual search facilities. Their regular newsletter contains a wide variety of items, many illustrated. www.EpsomandEwellHistoryExplorer.org.uk

19. News from Archives Show more → Show less ↓

Barton Stacey Knights will be exhibited at the Hampshire Record Office for the first three months of the year. These have been painted by different local community groups to celebrate the 775th anniversary of Henry III awarding the Lord of Barton Stacey the right to hold an annual fair.  Barton Stacey Parish Local History Group gave the January ‘Last Thursday Lecture’ about their research. Other topics to come include ‘Hospitals of Petersfield Union 1914-1918 on 23 February;  ‘Southampton Airport’ on 30 March; an early 20th century historical murder on 27 April; and ‘Hursely Park History – its Edwardian golden age’ on 25 May.  ‘Last Thursday Lectures’ start at 1.15 pm and are free. www3.hants.gov.uk/archives/whatson-hro.htm

The Archive in Aberdeen’s Town House is home to a collection of medieval records so significant that they have been recognised by UNESCO, the body of the United Nations responsible for the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. The collection of the city’s earliest council registers is considered to be a national treasure because it is near complete in its coverage of the period 1398-1511 with the exception of a single volume, which has been missing for more than two centuries. Now researchers at the University of Aberdeen have uncovered fragments of the contents of the missing “third” volume (running from 1414 to 1434) in the form of copied extracts made in the mid-1700s. The find has revealed how the city clashed with King James I when it refused to support a campaign against Highland chiefs. Dr Jackson Armstrong, a lecturer in history at the University, made this discovery which has helped piece together a missing part of Scotland’s world class heritage.  https://aberdeenregisters.org/

News from Oxfordshire History Centre:the launch of the Oxfordshire parish registers online is the culmination of a register scanning project which was organised and funded by Oxfordshire Family History Society. About 3,000 volumes were sent from Oxfordshire History Centre to a specialist scanning firm at a rate of 150 registers a fortnight. Oxfordshire Family History Society has now made the resulting images available online via their agreement with Ancestry.com. They are available at www.ancestry.co.uk All parishes in historic Oxfordshire are included in the datasets, which are: Oxfordshire, England, Church of England Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, 1538-1812; Oxfordshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915; Oxfordshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930; Oxfordshire, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1965


As part of its 40th anniversary celebrations in 2014 the Federation of Family History Societies sponsored some small projects initiated by its member societies. The feedback from that was very positive so in 2016 the FFHS sponsored a local project at Gloucestershire Archives – the cataloguing of an uncatalogued solicitor’s collection from the Forest of Dean. Following the completion of this pilot project in Gloucestershire the FFHS invited bids for another sponsored project, and the successful application was recently adjudged to be Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society. In partnership with Lancashire Archives, they will be producing a name index to two important series of Lancashire Crew Lists (1863 – 1914) containing about 82,000 entries, which give details of seamen not just from Lancashire but from across the United Kingdom and occasionally beyond. When complete the index will be made available online in a suitably searchable way, free of charge. www.ffhs.org.uk

Derbyshire Record Office is holding an exhibition from January to the end of March 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act entitled Derbyshire’s LGBT History.  Amongst other events are a talk ‘A beginner’s guide to copyright’ on 21 February, and ‘Building History; on 8 March. www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/record_office/news/events/default.asp

A recent issue of Salopian Recorder, from Friends of Shropshire Archives, contains an article on ‘Researching Transport History’. This would be a valuable start for anyone considering such a piece of work, as it briefly introduces the variety of types of relevant sources, most of which would also be found in other parts of the country. www.shropshirearchives.org.uk

Gloucestershire Archives are having major building works, and the search room will be moved to temporary accommodation from the middle of January.  So although opening hours and procedures will not change there will be less space;  visitors are reminded they need to order documents ahead of their visit and advised to book well in advance . There is information on the website, and a blog to follow progress of developments of the ‘For the Record’ project. www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives/article/122122/On-the-move

20. News from Education Show more → Show less ↓

My Primary School is at the Museum is a project from Kings College, London, that tested the hypothesis ‘that there may be beneficial learning ,social and cultural outcomes from primary school children and their families when a significant portion of their learning takes place in a museum setting, as well as demonstrating benefits for museums’.   The findings which found that children  became more enthusiastic about their learning, and that museums gained a higher profile in their communities, have been published in a public report that can be downloaded, there is a link from the page address here.


As well as carrying out school visits, the War Memorials Trust has learning materials on their website, in different versions for primary and secondary schools. New resources in later 2016 cover the main events of World War II, and are designed to be used in the run-up to Remembrance Day.  The wide range of materials can be found at www.learningaboutwarmemorials.org

The Department of History at the University of Nottingham organises monthly local history seminars on Saturday mornings between October and March.  They are open to all with an interest in local and regional history, booking is not necessary, the entry fee of £5 includes refreshments. On 11 February Dr Julie Attard will give a presentation on the HLF-funded Charnwood Roots project based at the University of Leicester. This is part of the ongoing work in Leicestershire for the Victoria County History. https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/history/news-events/intro.aspx#events

The Institute of Historical Research Locality & Region seminars continue through the winter termhttp://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminar/locality-region

There is a six week course beginning on 28 February at Shropshire Archives:  ‘Latin for local and family historians’. www.shropshirearchives.org.uk

21. Phillips of Bromyard, Clockmaker Show more → Show less ↓

Charles Gordon Clark

By a happy coincidence our 50th anniversary year has been marked by the kind gift by Mrs Cheryl Sowerby of Stoke Edith of a handsome long case clock by Phillips of Bromyard. It will soon be going again, thanks to Martin Dallosso of the Market Square, who is also going to re-silver the dial and replace a later and rather unsuitable hand. It is appropriate that he should be servicing this clock, as in 1789 John Phillips lived in Market Square Chambers.

Who was he? Two John Phillips died at an advanced age in Bromyard in the early 19th century, one (with one ‘l’ in burial register) at 80 in August 1810, one (with two ‘l’s) at 94 in 1812. Either could be the clock maker, and either could be the John Philips who married Mary Carter on April 8th 1750, both of this parish. He could be the John, son of John and Jane Phillips who was baptized 30 December 1729.

In the parish records(1) there are references to several John Phillips of Bromyard so it is difficult to identify a particular individual but a John Phillips was paid £1 1s in June 1782 to repair the parish clock. In 1789 a John Phillips Watch and Clockmaker of Bromyard stood guarantor on the marriage bond of Thomas Austin (Yeoman) and Sarah Ashcroft. The
marriage took place at Upper Sapey. In 1793 as an indenture in the Society archives shows John Phillips (with Henry Philpott) agreed to buy from John Hayter for £165 an acre in Linton near the road to Burley, and an acre of pasture near Burley Wood.

John Phillips is not in the earliest Directory we have(2) but was active at that time (1791) because he subsequently took three apprentices: Josh Hill (Joseph, Josiah, Joshua?) on 29 July 1792, as apprentice for 7 years for the fee of £5(3);  John Starie on 17 April 1796, for 6 years for the fee of £25(4), and Edward Harris on 25 March 1806, for 4 years(5). Harris was active in the town as a watch and clock maker for several decades.

According to Tony Branston(6)  “Generally speaking, brass dials are pre 1790 in Herefordshire, and clocks with brass dials exist bearing the name Phillips Bromyard which have engraved patterns similar to Phillips of Tenbury. There was also a Phillips of Ludlow. All belong to the late 1700s. John Phillips has enamel dials supplied by Wilson of B(irming)ham, who also supplied makers in Leominster about 1800.(7)”

Our clock has probably lost its original top and feet, and until it is serviced it is not worth photographing, but a much more elaborate clock by him passed through the hands of a London dealer in the 1970s (illustration)(8).

CHARLES GORDON CLARK is Hon. Sec. Bromyard & District Local History Society

(1) At Herefordshire Archive and Record Centre, not with us!

(2) Universal Directory 1791.

(3) duty paid 12 Sept 1792 2/6.

(4) duty paid 12/6 25 May 1797.

(5) for the fee “Do” to “No Comm” above;  duty paid 15/-. 

(6) Part author of Herefordshire Clockmakers and Watchmakers, Mayfield Books 2005, by Tony Branston & John C. Eisel.

(7) Letter to Phyllis Williams, in our archives.

(8) Ibid.

22. Police Auxilliary Messenger Service 1939-1945 Show more → Show less ↓

William Evans

Local History News 116 summer 2015 drew attention to The Five Stone Steps by John Orton, a fictionalised account of policing in South Shields in the 1920s, based on the manuscript memories of sergeant Thomas Renton Gordon and local history material in South Shields library. It was suggested that historical fiction, if based on local archive material, is a genre that local historians might consider using.

John Orton has written a second book, Blitz PAMS (UK Book Publishing 2016), also set in South Shields, this time in the blitz period of September 1940 to December 1941. The fictional narrator is Mossie, a teenager who volunteers to join the Police Auxiliary Messenger Service. PAMS were lads aged 16 to 18 with bikes, who took messages when there were air raids and telephone lines were disrupted. Riding through bomb blasts, debris and fires, and with unexploded bombs and collapsing buildings an occupational hazard, their adventures were dramatic and often hair-raising. John Orton's re-creation is vivid, pungent and convincing.

The author's main sources were South Tyneside Library Service's photographic archive, which includes images taken by Amy Flagg, local librarian and amateur photographer, who recorded every raid and its aftermath; the wartime diaries of a bomb disposal unit of the Royal Engineers based at Low Fell, now a suburb of Gateshead; and the web resource NE Diary by Roy Ripley and Brian Pears, which lists wartime events in the north-east of England.

Much WW2 national history understandably concentrates on the armed forces and their activities. Apart from the Home Guard, the subject of a much-repeated popular television series, the home front gets less attention. The war put civilians into many other roles, such as fire-watchers, air raid wardens, special constables, land girls, miners, war reserve police officers, auxiliary firefighters, ambulance drivers and first-aiders, and marshalled them into organisations such as rescue squads and the Women's Voluntary Service. PAMS was another. How they were organised and operated varied between police forces. Some employed the bike-riding lads full-time like police cadets; others only during and after raids. Archival records of PAMS also vary: coverage is not nation-wide. In London PAMS material is part of the Metropolitan Police archive in The National Archives under MEP 05/219, presumably because the Metropolitan Police was directly under the Home Office. PAMS also operated in Grimsby and Cleethorpes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/22/a4212622.shtml;

in Shenfield, Essex: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/02/a3212902.shtml;

and in Oxford: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/31/a2520631.shtml.

A quick internet search suggests that PAMS, abbreviated or spelt out, is not a category in the online catalogue of local record offices, at any rate in Bristol, Nottingham or Birmingham. Perhaps PAMS records exist, but they are in police archives under other names. In Liverpool PAMS appears to have gone under the name of the Civil Defence Cadet Corps: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/exhibitions/blitz/emergency.aspx.

Local history people, I would like to suggest, might usefully search those records out, and give them voice.

23. The World of Internet Research Show more → Show less ↓

Hannah Spencer

Researching local history has got so much easier in the past few years. The internet has long been dismissed as an inferior and untrustworthy source of research, but more and more digitised records are becoming available as archives place their records online. Many are quickly searchable, reducing a long manual search to a minute or two, and a copy of the original record can usually be downloaded or printed.

I have recently written and published a book on the history of Preston on Stour, my childhood village in Warwickshire. As well as trawling through the local archives and speaking to past and present residents, the internet was an invaluable source of primary research material. Some of the key sources I used, which would be of use to other local historians, are as follows.

The baptism, marriage and burial registers for the majority of British parishes are available online on sites such as www.ancestry.co.uk, which offers unlimited access for a reasonable monthly fee. This information is also available for free on other sites, but this is usually transcription only with no option of viewing the original documents. Bear in mind that transcriptions may not include all the information on the original.

Birth, marriage and death certificates, first issued in 1837, are another useful source of information. The indexes are searchable at www.freebmd.org.uk and copies of certificates can be purchased from the General Register Office.

Wills and inventories taken on a person’s death are also commonly available online. These often include detailed descriptions and valuations of a person’s possessions and provided a key source of information for my book. Wills proved by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury prior to 1858 can be downloaded from The National Archives (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk); others, such as those proved by the Diocese of Gloucestershire, are available from www.ancestry.co.uk.

Records relating to military service, especially during the First World War, are a focus of many current digitisation projects. The National Archives has an array of downloadable records including service records and medal cards for Army, Navy, Air Force and Royal Marine personnel. Sites such as www.findmypast.co.uk and www.ancestry.co.uk offer many more. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (http://grandeguerre.icrc.org) give information on personnel who died or were taken prisoner of war respectively. The war diaries of many First World War regiments are also available from The National Archives.

Subscription sites such as www.ancestry.co.uk and www.findmypast.co.uk have a continually growing array of other records including census returns from 1841-1911; apprenticeship indentures; workhouse records; ship passenger lists; electoral rolls and much more. Other sites offering specific datasets can easily be found through an online search.

Newspapers are a valuable source of contemporary information on a locality or subject. The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) is an ongoing project to digitise historic local and national newspapers, and is searchable by place, date or name.

Another source of general information is directories such as Kelly’s Directory, which list businesses, tradespeople and other noteworthy persons such as landowners by locality. Many are available online at http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk. And the Victoria County History offers detailed histories on many localities along with source details, and is available online at www.british-history.ac.uk.

If you want to include extracts from downloaded records in a publication, as with information from any other source, you will probably need to get permission. Many archives simply ask for an acknowledgement; others may request a reproduction fee. Copyright for written or photographic material in the UK generally lasts for seventy years after the death of the creator, or if no author can be identified, such as newspaper reports, seventy years from publication. After this point you are usually free to reproduce it, but if in doubt it's always best to check.

Photographs also need consideration. You cannot simply download images without permission from the internet as this violates copyright laws. Reproducing old postcards which are readily available for purchase also needs care. The collection of postcards by Frank Packer, for example, are held by Oxfordshire History Centre who charge a fee for permission to reproduce them. An internet search of the photographer's name can often find the copyright owner. Photograph collections held by museums may be free to use.

The internet has also made publishing much quicker and easier. There is limited interest in local history with traditional publishing houses, so self-publishing – taking control of all aspects of the design and printing yourself – is the way forward for most people. If you are intending to do this, treat the manuscript with as much care as a traditional publisher. Set it aside for a week or so after completion then go through it carefully again. It's easy to make mistakes, and any reader who spots one will immediately question every other fact you write. Even a typo of a date will throw into doubt the professionalism of your work.

Grammar and spelling also need careful checking for accuracy and consistency. Nothing spells amateur more than sloppy mistakes such as their/there; its/it's; though/through; from/form. If this isn't your strong point, ask somebody else to read the manuscript or consider paying for a professional copy-editing service.

An ISBN –  a book’s unique identification number or barcode, essential if it is to be available through bookshops, libraries or online retailers – can be purchased from the Nielson ISBN Agency, or you can acquire one through a self-publishing company. These companies will also deal with the cover design, typesetting – turning the text and image files into book format – printing and distribution. As ever, professionalism is key, especially if you want the book to be available in bookshops. If these areas are outside your technical skills, it's worth paying for these services. If you just want a simple book to sell at local events, a basic design will suffice and a printing firm can be found comparatively cheaply.

The internet is also a key resource for marketing your work. A website will publicise your work and will flag up on search engines if anyone is looking for your local area or topic. There are many free providers which are simple to set up. Blogger and Wordpress are popular examples. I used all the research I hadn't space for in my book to create the website One Hundred Days of History (http://100daysofhistory.blogspot.co.uk).

There is a wealth of resources available through the internet. If you are starting a local history project, or have hit a brick wall which old-fashioned research can’t break down, have a look online. You may be amazed what you will find.

24. Book Review - Maritime Wales in the Middle Ages: 1039-1542 Show more → Show less ↓

ISBN 978-1-84494-106-3

Wales is a nation surrounded by sea on three sides so the importance of its maritime history should not be understated. The maritime history of Wales in the medieval period has been long overdue in receiving attention from historians. Whilst there has been much writing on the history of Wales for this period, this is the first book to specifically look at the maritime dimensions of Wales during the Middle Ages.

Sadly, the author Kenneth Lloyd Gruffydd died just before the book was published. He was a founder member of the Buckley Society in Flintshire, North Wales. This ground-breaking work shows the importance of maritime developments within the history of Wales, from the failure of the early Welsh leaders to keep control of their seas and their subsequent (though long drawn out) conquest, to the incremental incorporation of Wales into a wide network of maritime commerce that touched the lives of most of its people.

The culmination of over thirty years of research, this book is based largely on Ken’s published articles, though these have been reworked and updated where necessary, and includes previously unpublished additional material on coastal traffic. Priced at £25 the book is available via the Buckley Society at www.buckleysociety.org.uk  or by e mail to gruffyddargel@talktalk.net

25. Book Review - Mary Green, Bespoke Tailoress: Culture, Craft and Non-Conformity in an Industrial Textile Town of North West England 1880-1920. Show more → Show less ↓

Mary Cunningham 2015 RRP £3.99 48pp

Published by Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum ISBN 978 1 872044 07 1

This beautifully produced little book punches well above its weight. Mary Cunningham has explored the life of her grandmother as a young woman in Bolton, Lancashire, against the background of the social and economic context of the times.  As the sub-title indicates, the author has drawn out the importance of factors such as skill, education, literacy, family, social networks, and religion, using one person to illustrate the wider features of ‘artisanal culture’ within the region. Mary Green had to face the barriers of both gender and class; her family was vulnerable to the ups and downs of happiness and despair; but in old age she communicated ‘her enthusiasm for poetry, radio drama, a love of trees, and a passion for fabric and making’.

Mary Green, Bespoke Tailoress illustrates the use of oral testimony, very varied local archive sources, and material culture. These are supported by an impressive bibliography of secondary publications which indicates an appreciation of the importance of placing the local detail in the general picture, and understanding what others have already written on the subject to support a very special personal study.

I had a little difficulty working out who was who, so a brief family tree would have been useful, but that is a minor quibble.

Proceeds from sales are going to Bolton Library & Museums Service.

Jane Howells

26. The good tutor Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

The Tutors’ Bulletin of Adult Education was published in various formats from the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s, by the Association of Tutors in Adult Education based at the University of Leeds. Now that the tutor in adult education is an endangered species, it’s interesting to look back over sixty years and see what was expected of him (or her). In the December 1956 issue the Bulletin described ‘The Good Tutor’, a fictional character based on entries submitted to an essay competition on that subject (perhaps a pioneering and more ambitious version of the now-ubiquitous ‘feedback form’).

Quoting students, the article notes that some of the desirable techniques of the perfect tutor are straightforward but difficult: “he must know when to stop talking”, and he must strive to avoid “the solemn, the chatty, or the cheap, clever cliché”.  A good tutor must “never descend into facetiousness (or) witticisms introduced for effect”, but must speak with “an interesting and lively discourse, of clear, concise sentences, with graphic descriptions”, making use of a “fluent command of language ... he does not need to falter and search for the right word”. Nonetheless, many students mentioned the possibility of somnolence during a class, one cleverly noting that this might not be the result of boredom but instead could be a compliment, because the student “has come, although physically exhausted”. 

A sense of humour was essential, to “evaporate atmospheres of tension when arguments grow too strong among certain students whose views are rather biased” (it being noted that the good tutor is of course “scrupulously impartial”). But the good tutor must strenuously avoid cheap humour, of the sort that makes him “one of the boys”. Instead, his (he’s always a ‘he’ in this discussion) might use humour of the sort that produces “spontaneous laughter ... in the quiet of concentration”.

This veritable paragon must be prepared for everything that fate can throw at him - bad weather, failure of the heating system, acrimonious argument between students, and the “personal idiosyncracies” of the latter. He must have a “mellow pleasing voice” and is allowed to have an accent or to speak in dialect as appropriate, while also being permitted to display knowledge of film stars and football results (presumably not in order to demonstrate that he is “one of the boys”).

Personal appearance is of fundamental importance. Good tutors do not have “wild clashes of tie, pullover, shirt and socks”, must not have unkempt hair or a shiny nose, and must on no account indulge in “ear pulling” (whether their own ear, or those of recalcitrant students, is not made clear). Other problems identified include room pacing, hair rumpling and nose scratching. To present a suitable sartorial appearance, a good tutor has “well starched collars” and his hair is “well controlled by the application of cream”. 

However, most essay-writers, entirely correctly, regarded their tutors with a mixture of awe, admiration, adoration and reverence. One wrote that “for one brief spell each week we are drinking from the same fountain”, and another took extended notes because “it seemed tremendously important that the magic that was being distilled should somehow be preserved”. “Were they not all good tutors”, one asks rhetorically, while another simply states that her tutor is “the salt of the earth”. Such sensible views, and that attitude of reverence and hero-worship, seem to me to be exactly what is required even now, sixty years later. I must remember to ask my students to compose essays on those lines.

But what’s this – a problem perhaps? It seems that in the mid-1950s, long before the permissive age but in the era of Lucky Jim, other considerations were in the minds of some earnest and enthusiastic students. To the generation born in the ‘20s or ‘30s, who had been through the horrors and vicissitudes of the war, academic progress and achievement was not all that mattered. Some subversives apparently reported that ‘The Good Tutor’ must “be of the right sex”.  Whatever would their mothers have said?     

27. Norman Alvey: an appreciation Show more → Show less ↓

Kate Thompson

Norman was involved with BALH from its early days, becoming its treasurer in 1985, only three years after the formation of the organisation.  He served in this capacity until 1992 but continued as a trustee into the twenty-first century; he was on the Events Committee until 2009, where he acted as the honorary picture researcher.  By this time he was in his late 80s and had served the organisation for over 20 years, a remarkable investment in time and commitment.  In 1995 BALH published his book, From Chantry to Oxfam:  A short history of charity and charity legislation, a subject on which he was very knowledgeable; his book was a valuable addition to this important area of research.

He published other books and articles, including in The Local Historian.  In issue 24 of Local History News (February 1992) Norman’s book Education by Election: Reed’s School, Clapton and Watford is mentioned; a ‘spin-off’ from it was an article in TLH on ‘The great voting charities of the Metropolis’ (vol 21, no 4, November 1991).  For the same journal he also wrote ‘Growth in the population of St Albans from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth centuries ‘ (vol 30, no 3, August 2000).  His retirement as treasurer was noted in Local History News no 25 (August 1992) and other contributions to the newsletter included a report of guided visits to the archives of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the House of Lords (no 75, summer 2005): a profile of Brian Moody, a 2005 award winner (no 77, autumn 2005); and an appreciation of the late Patricia Knowlden on her retirement from the Programme/Events Committee (no 87, spring 2008).

By profession, Norman was a statistician, working at the agricultural research station at Rothamsted, in his home town of Harpenden, Hertfordshire.  Another book by him appears on the Amazon website, An introduction to Genstat, which I imagine is not on many local historians’ bookshelves!  He retired from Rothamsted in 1982 and then worked part-time for Which? the consumer organisation based in Hertford, for about four years.

Norman was born on 20 May 1922 and died on 7 December 2016, aged 94.  He is unlikely to be remembered by many younger members of BALH but for those of us with longer memories, his contribution to the health and strength of the organisation was much appreciated at the time and laid the foundations for its future development.

I remember Norman as a very courteous and polite man, surely the epitome of the term ‘gentleman’.  On behalf of BALH, I would like to send my condolences to his widow Diane and his son Ian.

28. Notes News Issues Show more → Show less ↓

BALH membership and financial services

BALH Chair, Tim Lomas, has written a note for members about the new administrative arrangements which have now been running for a year. You can find it on page 4 of the supplement in this issue.  Do let us know if you have any queries. Please do check that you are sending communications to the new address. There are a number of society newsletters that are still being sent to the old PO Box number; and some subscription renewal cheques went there is year too, despite the updated information being on the renewal letters. We would be very sorry to lose any members or to fail to receive information from you.

Help wanted from readers

In addition to all the numerous local opportunities to get involved with research, there are also chances to be part of larger projects where the work of many individuals throughout the country contributes to a substantial result that is of interest and benefit to everyone. Two examples where your help is wanted feature in this issue of Local History News.

BALH will be at ...

On the first page of the Supplement in Local History News we are listing the events where BALH will be having a stall, putting up a display and/or giving a talk.  The number of these occasions is growing, as we find this an excellent way of meeting both existing and potential members (individuals and societies), discovering possible new contributors to LHN, and generally spreading the word about the pleasure and interest of local history.  There are several of us speaking at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2017 at the NEC in April; when the programme is published you can see the topics covered. If you know of any such opportunities in your area please do let us know. We always need helpers too, and this can sometimes come with a free entry ticket. Please contact Gill Draper by email development@balh.org.uk

Cycle of Local History Day venues

Some time ago the Trustees decided that our major annual event Local History Day should move on a cycle of two years in London and then the next elsewhere in the country. We like to find an interesting and accessible venue that is within our budget, somewhere that can be reached without too much difficulty from other regions, and ideally where we have someone who is prepared to be the ‘local’ contact for the organising group who live elsewhere.  In 2018 the event will take place in York.

Congratulations to Gwyneth Fookes

We were delighted to learn that Gwyneth Fookes, who received a BALH Award for Personal Achievement in 2008, has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours List 2017 in recognition of her services to local history and the environment in North East Surrey.  Her dedicated and long-lasting involvement with the Bourne Society, East Surrey Museum, the Surrey Wildlife Trust, amongst many other organisations has made a great contribution. It is a pleasure to congratulate Gwyneth and share the news with our members.

29. KSAM working with BALH – who they are and what they do Show more → Show less ↓

With the departure of our business manager and finance officer in 2015, the Trustees approved a competitive bid to find a reliable partner who could fulfil the finance and membership function.  Following a competitive process, the award-winning firm of Kingston Smith Association Management (KSAM) were selected as BALH’s partner.  An initial one-year contract was agreed and this has now been extended by another three years.

Although Kingston Smith have several offices, their work with BALH is in Macclesfield and this is the listed head office of BALH with the relevant email address.  Their main activities relate to the efficient processing of membership applications and renewals, organising regular payment runs, reimbursing expenses, providing timely and accurate financial and membership data, liaising over the production of journals and liaising with our insurers.  Accounts are prepared quarterly for the Trustees as well as our Annual Accounts and Report together with the Charity Commission accounts and gift aid returns.  

Whilst the previous post holders provided a valuable and appreciated service to BALH over many years, significant changes in serves means that KSAM provides us with a full time membership administrator, who answers phone calls and emails during regular weekday office hours of 09.00-17.00 as well as the services of a professional accountant designated to deal with BALH finances.  It is important to stress that, although KSAM look after over 700 not-for-profit organisations, they have dedicated staff who support us directly at BALH.   A named trustee and member of Management Committee acts as a regular link with KSAM.   Their organisation has also proved valuable in providing us with guidance and timely advice on business administration and compliance.  Another strength of the link is that BALH also has direct access to a senior member of the KSAM staff.

BALH benefits from KSAM’s professionalism.  They work with clear procedures and performance measures and the trustees have found them extremely responsive to our needs.  Although they have provided many more hours of no charge support, we are keen not to exploit their goodwill.  We expect these additional hours to continue to fall away as the new reliable and compliant systems are fully embedded.