Local History News - Number 83 - Spring 2007

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1. A Faithful Negro  Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby visited a poignant site


Here lies Poor SAMBOO A faithfull NEGRO Who (Attending his Master from the West Indies) DIED on his Arrival at SUNDERLAND Full sixty Years the angry Winter's Wave Has thundering dashd this bleak & barren Shore Since SAMBO's Head laid in this lonelyGRAVE Lies still & ne'er will hear their turmoil more. Full many a Sand bird chirps upon the Sod And many a Moonlight Elfin round him trips Full many a Summer's Sunbeam warms the Clod And many a teeming Cloud upon him drips. But still he sleeps – till the awakening Sounds Of the Archangel's Trump new Life impart Then the GREAT JUDGE his Approbation founds Not on Man's COLOR but his – WORTH of HEART These naïve and artless verses are inscribed on a brass plate which is fixed to a gravestone, lying just above the shore at Sunderland Point, the mouth of the Lune estuary six miles below Lancaster. During the eighteenth century Lancaster became a wealthy port dealing in the America trade—the splendid Georgian architecture of the town, and the graceful curve of the warehouses and merchants' houses along the quay, reflect that prosperity. But here, as in so many other places, the shadow of the slave trade falls across the golden mid-Georgian light. Lancaster merchants were closely involved with the trade, like those (on a much larger scale) of Liverpool fifty miles down the coast. The verses and inscription were placed upon the grave in 1796, so we can date Sambo's death to the mid-1730s. He was not a slave, but one of those black servants who were almost a fashion item among a certain social class in the eighteenth century—they appear in many portraits and contemporary accounts. The date of 1796 is, however, very significant, for it coincides with the great increase in anti-slavery agitation and the campaigns that led to the 1807 legislation which outlawed the carrying of slaves on British vessels. Sambo's Grave, which today always has some flowers and a few small gifts (or maybe votive offerings)—shells, pebbles, trinkets, even on one occasion a ballpoint pen—is a reminder that there were people in the late eighteenth century who abhorred man's inhumanity to man, who detested racism and slavery, and genuinely wanted freedom and fairness for all. The verses may be dire as poetry, but the sentiment they express is inspiring in the context of the times and is as relevant now as it was then.

2. The Map Curators' Group  Show more → Show less ↓

Ann Sutherland introduces us


The Map Curators' Group (MCG) was founded in 1966 as an integral part of the British Cartographic Society (BCS) to promote the professional development of map curatorship. In 1982 the Group became an organisation in liaison with the Library Association (now CILIP, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) through which it is recognised as the authoritative body on map librarianship in the UK. The Map Curators' Group organises training programmes in map librarianship from time to time and runs an annual Workshop in conjunction with the BCS at their Annual Symposium each September. Here members can attend lectures, discuss mutual problems and consider future activities. A technical visit to a map collection also usually forms part of the programme. Further information on the group and its activities can be found at http://www.cartography.org.uk/Pages/Membership/Curators/index.html The Group takes an active part in LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche), Groupe des Cartothécaires de LIBER and has close links with IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) and BRICMICS (British and Irish Committee for Map Information and Catalogue Systems). BRICMICS (supported from the British Library Map Library) provides a biannual forum for map librarians from many United Kingdom institutions which hold and deal with maps. The Map Curators' Group welcomes new members. There is no prerequisite to be a professional map curator or map librarian – participation in the Map Curators' Group activities is open to all BCS members and any other interested parties. The Group produces a Newsletter, Cartographiti, which contains news, short articles, brings serious matters to the attention of readers and provides a little whimsy. It is distributed free to members of the British Cartographic Society who express an interest in receiving it. Non-members of BCS may receive Cartographiti on payment of a subscription of £10 per calendar year. It is the list of subscribers to Cartographiti which, in effect, defines the membership of the Map Curators' Group. If you are not already a member and think the MCG sounds interesting and fun contact Ken Atherton, the BCS Administrator at: BCS Administration 12 Elworthy Drive Wellington Somerset TA21 9AT England, UK E-mail: admin@cartography.org.uk Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1823 665775

3. 2006 Award Winners  Show more → Show less ↓

Profile of Isobel Watson by Jane Howells


A local history gene? When asked for some notes for this profile, Isobel Watson kindly provided her outline CV in contemplative vein, at one point musing as to whether there might be a gene held in common by local historians. This was prompted by a bequest in her great-grandfather's will leaving 'my map of Mile End Old Town'. When he died in 1900 that old East End hamlet had recently ceased to exist, but, coincidentally, Isobel herself now lives in that very area. After an early childhood in the East Midlands, followed by school and university in Scotland, Isobel Watson chose to become a Londoner, reversing the route taken by her paternal grandfather who moved from Islington to settle in Sutherland. Her working life was in the government legal service, but alongside was her growing involvement with local history. Research began in earnest in the 1970s, while she was living in the borough of Camden. The focus of her work has been the built environment, a key element somewhere like London where the origins of what is there today have become submerged, and urbanisation has obscured historic boundaries. Isobel has experienced being a London resident in various parts of the metropolis, and her local history interest has been both specific to particular places and also concerned with topics that bridge local government boundaries. For example, her first major publication was Gentlemen in the Building Line: the development of South Hackney (1989) that led to commissions for Hackney and Stoke Newington Past (1900) and Westminster and Pimlico Past (1993). Subsequent articles about building development and developers across the capital have been published inLondon Topographical Record, Camden History Review,London Journal, and Hackney History. A 'guiding insight', as she puts it, is to see London as the product not of the architect but of the speculative builder, who is seriously under-researched. Her current work is investigating how, between the mid 19th century and the 'Homes for Heroes' campaign, Londoners first came to live in flats. Isobel Watson's research experience led to a developing interest in access to archives. The Friends of Hackney Archives was the first friends group in London, and remains the largest and most independent. Founded in 1985, the idea came from the then borough archivist David Mander, but Isobel was the user most concerned with getting the organisation off the ground, and who is still its chair after over twenty years, involved with acquisitions, fundraising, publishing, and otherwise supporting the borough collections. At times it has been necessary to lead campaigns against understaffing and threatened closure, but the Friends' work has contributed to the current high level of support for the service by Council members and managers. Hackney History is the Friends' annual journal of research, edited by Isobel Watson. The excellent standard of its articles was recognised by BALH Awards for research and publication in three successive years from 2001 to 3. Isobel Watson was one of three founder members, and subsequently secretary, of the London Archive Users' Forum, established in 1988 as a means of communication to increase public awareness of the variety and richness of London archives, and to campaign for archive services at a time when local authority services were under threat. LAUF was wound up in 2005 to allow its mainly research-based members to join with professional archivists from the Greater London Archives Network to form a new body uniting all interests, Archives for London Ltd. Another significant initiative which Isobel initiated was LAUF's volunteer indexing project 'A Place in the Sun'. With a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and support from Guildhall Library, part of the Sun Fire Office policy registers at Guildhall Library have been indexed and put online on Access to Archives (A2A). 85 are now available, for 1811 – 1835, and the work continues. Many local historians have appreciated the results of this project which has made available a valuable resource that was previously difficult to use. Isobel Watson's work over many years, both the high standards set by her own research and writing, and within various organisations facilitating and encouraging the work of others was recognised with the presentation of a BALH award for personal achievement in 2006. With thanks to Isobel Watson and David Mander.

4. 2006 Award Winners  Show more → Show less ↓

profile of Jo Wheldon by Jane Howells


80 not out A village of some 5,000 people in the East Midlands, Whitwell is located in a very special place just where the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire meet. Imagine the challenge that presents to local historians looking for records! Whitwell has had a thriving Local History Group for twenty years, and one of the first things Jo Wheldon did when she moved there in 1990 was to become a member. Before long she took on the job of reporting weekly meetings to the local newspaper, and then was 'volunteered' to be secretary – a job she did for ten years. Since then Jo has put together the programme, finding speakers for a group that meets 46 weeks in the year! After leaving school at 16 during the Second World War, Jo worked in a bank which she thoroughly enjoyed. Finding the prospects for women restricted after men returned to civilian employment at the end of the war, she took an Emergency Teacher Training course at Wymondham, and started on a varied career in education which lasted until 1982. Retirement opened up even more diverse experiences including working in the village shop and making costumes for an entertainments firm. Jo also helped her husband with his writing and model engineering, but when he died unexpectedly in 1988 she decided to move north to be nearer her daughter in South Yorkshire. Whitwell was chosen by chance but, as Jo writes, 'I could not have arrived in a more welcoming village'. As she became more familiar with her new surroundings, she also became increasingly interested in the history of the area. In the mid-1990s she was instrumental in forming a small mid-week Research Group whose initial project was to survey the parish boundaries, fields, farms etc. Jo organised grant applications to obtain basic equipment and, on receipt of funding, work began in January 1996. Weekly meetings were held at Jo's home to plan the research. The parish was meticulously walked and recorded, using drawings and photography, and the findings linked to maps and documentary evidence. For the millennium celebrations, WLHG planned a series of display boards containing a history of the village, divided into eight Time Zones. 'Jo's group' contributed illustrations showing the development of the village. These boards are still used by the local school. Jo has enjoyed working on this and other exhibitions encouraging awareness of local history, and she organises visits to suit all tastes. Jo's family of a son and daughter, plus five grandchildren aged from early teens into their twenties, share her time with continuing involvement in WLHG. Look at the programme on the society's website – there are dates when it just says 'Jo' – no more is needed. 'Not a spectacular life' says Jo, but she is clearly much appreciated by the people of Whitwell. The success enjoyed by that society is a tribute to her hard work, drive and enthusiasm. It is for this commitment to supporting and promoting interest in local history that Jo Wheldon was given a BALH Award for Personal Achievement in 2006. with thanks to Jo Wheldon

5. Vch And Education  Show more → Show less ↓

Professor John Beckett tells how the VCH is venturing into uncharted territory


A major part of the current work of the VCH through its HLF-funded project 'England's Past for Everyone' (EPE) is linked to providing local history educational material for schools, particularly at Key Stages 1-3. In some ways this is a moving target, since the National Curriculum is due for revision again in 2008, but that is no excuse for complacency! Guided by its dynamic education officer, Aretha George, the EPE project is linking in to schools' across the country. In the first term of this academic year, Aretha was involved with a project at the Wylye Valley School in Codford, Wiltshire. The whole school was split into four groups of pupils, aged 5-11 (Key Stages 1 and 2). Each group presented the results of its 6 week project to the others. A powerpoint quiz, models, farming implements and song were used to illustrate developments in local farming from pre-history to living memory. Activities included field trips, writing in Latin, role play, growing grass and building a life-size Iron Age hut in the school grounds, complete with camp fire! Education resources developed form the Wylye Valley project will be available from the EPE website during 2007. Meantime, Aretha is working with schools at Mounts Bay in Cornwall on new projects which will come on line in the next few months and will involve Key Stage 2 and 3 learners. The VCH is committed to bringing local history into our schools, to help children understand the environments in which they are brought up and live, and the world about them. It helps to share best practice, and with this in mind the EPE team convened a Learning Forum in London in November 2006. The day conference was chaired by Don Henson, head of education for the CBA. After listening to the day's presentations, he concluded the session by warmly welcoming the EPE projects on the grounds that they actively seek to support children's learning. 'Heritage', he suggested, 'needs to be handed on to the next generation. It is how people interact with history in everyday life. I can't think of another project that is doing the same.' For this VCH this is a new world, but the EPE project is leading it into previously uncharted territories. It is a world we are entering with enthusiasm because we believe in bringing history to our children, not in leaving them to seek it out.

6. Ludlow Historical Research Group  Show more → Show less ↓

A thirtieth anniversary


The Ludlow Historical Research Group celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. The Group, meeting weekly for most of the year, has been active in transcribing and analysing a wide range of documents relating to Ludlow's history. These include the voluminous Ludlow Borough Archive as well as many papers in diocesan and national depositories, such as probates and census returns. More than 150 people have been involved, with an active membership of about 25 each year. The leadership has come from experienced researchers but many members have been novices. The initial aim was to research Ludlow properties, including a detailed study of their architectural development. This work is still in progress, but in recent years members' interests have widened, including such subjects as clay pipe manufacture, adjoining villages and detailed aspects of the town's social history. The Group has published two series of Ludlow Research Papers. The first, in A4 format, financed by Studio Press of Birmingham, had six volumes, all on properties. The second, in A5 format, is on-going, with a variety of titles, the most recent, 'Crumbs from the Table of your Learning', concerning a collection of letters from Victorian literary personalities to the Ludlow-educated antiquarian, Thomas Wright. In 2004 the Group published Victorian Ludlow, a set of essays on various aspects of a hitherto neglected period of the town's history, and many other publications have been written by members of the Group, including several books on Ludlow itself. In the mid-1980s the Group was heavily involved in promoting an archaeological excavation of the town's Carmelite Friary, carried out by the Archaeological Field Unit of Birmingham University. Information about the Group's current research programme and its publications, which are available for purchase on line, may be found on its website www.ludlowhistory.co.uk The Group has been much involved with local communities. Since 1981 it has been represented on the influential Ludlow Conservation Area Advisory Group. Town Tours, initiated and manned by members, started in 1977 and continue to be a notable tourist attraction. In 2004 the Group began a weekly Historical Advice service at the library; since then there have been over 300 enquiries. In support of this service and of its own research studies, recently the Group has used a Local Heritage Initiative grant to work with Shropshire Archives and the Ludlow Library and Museum Resource Centre to make microfiches of Ludlow historic documents, previously available only at Shrewsbury, accessible in Ludlow. Members have given lectures locally and further afield, have contributed to journals, and have written many guide books. These have been productive years for Ludlow's local history. The Group's findings have transformed understanding of the town's history, and have aroused keen local interest. The future promises to be equally rewarding.

7. Breaking The Chains In Cornwall  Show more → Show less ↓

Jo Mattingly reports on a recent event


On 24 March 2007 at midday some 200 people packed into Kenwyn church at Truro for a bicentenary commemoration of the Act of Parliament that ended direct British involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. As well as the usual congregation, there were clergy from all over the county, local Quakers, the lord lieutenant and, perhaps, some distant descendants of former slave owners. Chains were carried, candles burned, a globe was spun and reference made to present day slavery as Bishop Bill led an ecumenical service. The focus of the event was the life of one remarkable man and ex-slave – Joseph Antonio Emidy – who lies buried in Kenwyn churchyard. Richard McGrady author of Music and Musicians in early Nineteenth Century Cornwall – The world of Joseph Emidy – slave, violinist and composer(University of Exeter Press, 1991) spoke on Emidy's life starting at the end and working back to the beginning as summarized below: Emidy died on 24 April 1835 when aged about 60. On his tombstone shaded by trees in Kenwyn churchyard, he is described as 'a native of Portugal' and a musician, but this is only part of the story. He had arrived at Falmouth in Cornwall in 1797 after four years as a 'volunteer' in the British Navy. Given the chance to continue serving Captain Pellew as ship's musician, Emidy chose freedom. (For the next 38 years he lived and worked successfully as a musician and composer first in Falmouth and later in Truro. He married a Penryn girl Jenefer Hutchens, and together they brought up a large brood of children). Back in 1794 Emidy had been a victim of the press-gang - kidnapped to order as he later told it (so much for volunteering). Emidy was at that stage a promising musician, playing second fiddle at the Lisbon opera house, but sometime before that he had been a slave. Born about 1775 in Guinea on the west coast of Africa, Emidy was sold as a child to Portuguese traders who took him to Brazil. From there he had come back to Lisbon with his owner and master and began a musical career that would last a lifetime. In the guise of a Redruth apothecary and friend of Emidy, Mike O'Connor a talented Cornish musician, then played three pieces of music from Emidy's time. None of Emidy's own compositions having so far come to light, so 'Mr Handel' and a country dance had to stand in. The programme also included Tunde Jegede's 'Island of Cold' from Lamentation – 'a musical portrayal of Fort James, an island captivity and the last port of departure for millions of African Exiles forced into slavery. On Fort James Island many of these people shed the beads of their necklaces into the sea as they left, for they believed that as long as a symbolic part of them remained here that they would one day be able to return' (handout for the event and part of the accompanying exhibition at the west end of Kenwyn church) A contemporary cartoon-like sketch of Emidy and fellow musicians dated 1808 is on show as part of an exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. Prayers and thoughts were written on paper chain links to be made into a chain later on, and the service concluded with 'Amazing Grace'. Bishop Bill than led a trail through Kenwyn churchyard to Emidy's grave. By Emidy's grave some people recalled other notable African slaves who had found their way to Cornwall like Alexander the Moor, baptized in the ruins of Paul church near Penzance the year after the Spanish raid in 1596. (This is a recent discovery by the Victoria County History of Cornwall team working on the history of Mousehole and Newlyn). Remarkable in a different way was Evaristo Muchovela (subject of 'Evaristo's Epitaph by Patrick Caroll, a BBC Radio 4 play broadcast in November 2002) who died aged 38 in 1868 at Redruth. Sold as a child in Brazil to Thomas Johns, a Cornish miner, c.1837, Evaristo was a slave for 22 years - long after the slave trade was abolished. Unlike Joseph Emidy he chose to stay with his master when Johns returned to Cornwall in about 1859. Johns set Evaristo up as a cabinet maker in Redruth before he died, and both he and Evaristo are buried in the same grave in Wendron churchyard.

8. Billy Rides Again!  Show more → Show less ↓

Luath Grant Ferguson wrote a play about William Cobbett


If history can be powerful medicine, local history can be very powerful indeed When something stirs up a community, there is nothing like a dose of local history to perk people up. If, waiting in the wings, there is a personality from the past with strong local connections, there is a good chance they will be wheeled out, dusted down and marched to the barricade. This is happening in Farnham, Surrey, where someone who – apart from having a pub and a primary school named after him – has not been accorded much status in recent years is recruited to the cause. William Cobbett, who was born in Farnham and died close by, has excellent credentials, a genuine British bruiser who thrived on confrontation , social reformer extraordinary, feared by prime-ministers, admired even by Napoleon. The cause is the threatened demolition of the Redgrave theatre to make way for a major commercial development in centre of this old market town. Professional theatre found a home in Farnham by accident back in 1939, when a touring company, The English Classical Players, were stranded there by the outbreak of war. They stayed, and in 1941, as the Farnham Repertory Company established the tiny Castle Theatre. In 1973, the company moved into the splendid new Redgrave, with its admired design innovations. All was well until 1998, when the Company folded. The building was taken over by Waverley Borough Council and moth-balled. A year or so later, by popular demand, the New Farnham Repertory Company ( NFRC), led by professional actors, was formed. Staging their first summer productions in the open air, they bought a marquee and set it up next to the forlorn Redgrave. In 2005 the theatre faced demolition and the NFRC responded by launching a national competition for a play about William Cobbett. Delighted as I was to have my own play chosen as the winning entry, I have been amazed to see how summoning up the spirit of Cobbett has clearly caught the public's imagination. The idea of taking two birds with one stone - getting to know your Cobbett and supporting the continuation of local professional theatre – is proving a winner In July, 1812, Alton, eight miles up the Wey Valley into Hampshire, greeted Cobbett on the morning after his release from Newgate with a peal of bells. Alton Town Council has repeated that welcome by asking for the winning play,Battling Billy, the Ballad of William Cobbett, to be staged in the town. Villages mentioned in Cobbett's classic Rural Rides are becoming involved. Bentley, The Village in a recent television documentary, has asked for a workshop on Cobbett. A small touring exhibition on Cobbett's life has had to be duplicated to meet demand in both Surrey and Hampshire. Re-enactments are planned of incidents described by Cobbett. Actors and local teachers will provide workshops for schoolchildren covering different aspects of Cobbett's achievements (How did he write so fast, and so much, with a feather?) and the relevance of his message to the modern world (Take good care of your resources! Avoid dependence on credit! Respect the rights of others!). It's going to be fun. The play will be performed in St. Andrew's Church, Farnham (where Cobbett's tomb stands just outside the main door), 19 - 22 September, and at the Assembly Rooms, Alton, 11 and 12 October. Details of performances, including matinees, are on the website, www.newfarnhamrep.co.uk

9. New Manx Worthies  Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby has been to the Isle of Man


In 1901 Arthur William Moore (1853-1909), 'probably … the Isle of Man's most prolific non-fiction writer to date, and its most eclectic', published a volume entitled Manx Worthies, his aim being to give pen portraits of 'Manxmen who had done good service for their country'. Moore's most celebrated book was a two-volume history of the island, which is still regarded as a standard work, but his Worthies has long pleased though at the same time frustrated and exasperated readers (as a Manx nationalist, Moore dismissed anybody, no matter how worthy and historically significant, who was not Manx-born). At the end of the twentieth century the Manx Heritage Foundation decided that it was time for a new volume, covering the hundred years or so since Moore's book appeared, and a committee was appointed to manage this complex task. In 2006 the new and magnificent volume was published, to widespread acclaim. In its 494 large and beautiful pages it includes the biographies of more than 230 people who have 'made their mark on the Isle of Man during the past 120 years'. The criterion for inclusion is much wider than A.W. Moore's narrower and restricted view, since the last hundred years have seen a huge shifting of the balance in the population of the Isle of Man, with a much greater proportion of residents who are from 'off island' and have come to live for retirement, business or as returning diaspora. The book includes an extraordinary variety of characters. Among them is Maurice Gibb, 'member of the Bee Gees pop group' (born Douglas, 1949; died Florida, 2003; married, en route, to Lulu). He comes between the sisters Janet and Alice Gibb (no relation), who gave their Victorian house, The Grove, to the Manx Museum, and Alexander Gill, property developer and builder of the Palace Ballroom, Coliseum and Gaiety Theatre. Since Manx-by-adoption was a qualification for inclusion, such remarkable people as Angèle Mathilde Kneale, 'anti-Nazi resistance worker, Quaker, French consular agent and anti-birch campaigner', and Samuel Norris, the fifth of six children of a Lancashire coalminer but eventually a member of the island's parliament, the House of Keys, of its Legislative Council, and 'the fearless leader of Manx democracy', make their fully-justified appearance. Others, like Maurice Gibb, are more famous for their exploits beyond the Isle of Man—for example, Richard Costain (1839-1902) who founded the eponymous building firm that helped to transform the face of twentieth-century Britain. As always in a book such as this, the quirks and eccentricities delight the reader: who could resist the exquisite combination of claims to fame given for Walter Craine: 'Member of the House of Keys, music hall acrobat and first Labour mayor of Douglas'. The foreword and acknowledgments to the book pay tribute to the invaluable help given by the staff of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, but the contributors to Manx worthies have had the advantage that, as theirs is a small island with a small population, they have been able to pick out quite ordinary people whose achievements were modest and unspectacular. That gives the book a special charm, as well as a historical and social richness. But what also stands out, and indeed shines through almost every page, is the powerful sense of national identity. The simple fact that the book has appeared, and that Moore published the earlier volume, is a tribute to the strength of Manx nationhood. The timing of the 1901 book is no accident—at that stage in the island's history its independent status had been under prolonged and serious threat (in the 1880s there was a serious proposal to make it part of Cumberland) and its native language was seemingly in terminal decline. The economy was acutely depressed, and emigration to the New World was sapping the demographic strength of the island. On this miniature canvas and against that unpromising background, the same forces of nationalism which were moving in Continental Europe, and across the Irish Sea, were stirring on Man. Figures such as Moore were prominent in reawakening feelings of national identity, of pride in the island's culture, love of its beautiful landscapes, and awareness of its unique and fascinating history. Many of the people whose biographies are included were important contributors to the revival of Manxness in the twentieth century, to the gradual emergence of a political and economic separateness which created the island's present constitutional position, and to deep and intensive study of its archaeology, history, language, landscape, music, literature and folklore. The flowering of Manx studies, especially after 1918, meant that although the last native speaker of the language, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974, the baton had been passed on to new generations who were no longer ashamed of that heritage. New Manx Worthies is a most welcome addition to the published literature about the island. Reading it reminded me, most forcefully, of how local history and national history can elide and coalesce, and though the island is a miniature case-study (only 30 miles from Calf of Man to Point of Ayre) the same lesson applies on this side of the water. There is no true division between local history and 'other' history: they depend upon, and influence, each other constantly, continuously and profoundly. And always, it is the people who make the history: people are history and history is people. NEW MANX WORTHIES, edited by Dollin Kelly (Manx Heritage Foundation 2006 x+494pp ISBN 0 9547 180 4 6) £30

10. A Letter From Colditz  Show more → Show less ↓

a taste of Christine Wootton's research


In 2003, Radley History Club, of which Christine Wootton is a member, was given a letter written by Charles Lockett to his wife Eve who was then living in the village. The letter was sent from Colditz Castle during the war, when the author was a prisoner there. It sparked off a great deal of interest amongst the members, and research about the writter was begun. Christine was asked to take over a task that was of special interest as she shared a native county, Cheshire, with Charles Lockett. Starting by asking local people for recollections of the Locketts when they were living at Neats' Home Farm – from about 1935 to 1948, it was discovered that they had retired to Jersey, so the Jersey Evening Post was asked to publish an article asking for help from anyone who knew them there. This proved very useful. Christine then began on the internet. A rewarding search found Charles' RAF records, and a good deal of his family history on Ancestry.com and the Cheshire BMD site. At a chance meeting on holiday in North America she encountered a couple who came from Charles' home village of Childer Thornton, and they sent details about his birthplace. Tracing the families of both Charles' parents was then possible. When Charles left school he spent three years in an aero engine factory, before joining the RAF in 1931. His career progressed and, as Squadron Leader, he became Officer Commanding No 226 (Bomber) Squadron, and landed in France on 2 September 1939. Charles Lockett was shot down and captured on 14 May 1940, spent time in four or five prisoner of war camps. Released at the end of the war he continued in the RAF before retiring in 1959. He started a new career in the Channel Islands, trading as an international loss adjuster. He died on 26 August 1966, piloting his plane on a day's visit from Jersey to Alderney. Editor's note: This is a brief summary of Christine's article. The results of her research can be found in full in From Colditz to Radley, Occasional Publication No 2 Radley History Club 2006. www.commigate.co.uk/oxford/radleyhistoryclub

11. Researching Local Women's History  Show more → Show less ↓

Krista Cowman reports


The meeting, held under the auspices of the Centre for Regional and Local History at the University of Lincolnalso comprised this year's meeting of the Northern Women's History Network. The day attempted to address the question of why women's historians and feminist historians have been noticeably drawn to the methodology of the local study. Scholars combined to hear a variety of papers engaging with a range of temporal and geographical locations, all of which used local studies to interpret aspects of women's lives. Judith Spicksley (University of Hull) demonstrated how the account books of the 17th century spinster, Joyce Jeffreys, revealed how an elderly spinster could position herself in a provincial town (in this case Hereford). Abi Hunt (Lincoln) considered how local history had shaped her work on women's role in Lincolnshire farms in the 20th century. June Hannam (University of the West of England) and Christine Jesman (University of Sussex) both engaged with the local dimension of women's political activity, but from opposite ends of the political spectrum, whilst Simon Morgan (Leicester) considered political activity in a broader sense, looking at women in the public sphere in the mid-Victorian West Riding. Helen Jones (Goldsmiths) and Liz Harvey (Nottingham) both gave insights into how local identities functioned in wartime, looking at the experiences of women in Britain and Germany in and immediately after the second world war. The papers collectively spoke of the importance of the local study in women's history. Part of this came from the 'recovery' dimension which remains very much part of the project of feminist history. The partiality of many sources dealing with women's lives is often less marked at a local level. This is particularly true in the case of women's activities in the public sphere (and especially in the world of politics). While it was arguably easier for women to locate their activism there, and thus combine it more effectively with domestic or familial responsibilities, some women also found that change was easier to effect at local level, thus offering a more attractive location for their public work. From the 19th century, the desire of an expanding local press to package its own region in a particular way expanded the number of available sources. But the papers also revealed more complex reasons for the popularity of this methodology in women's history. Several of them suggested that although the world is shaped at the national (and increasingly at the global) level, most people experience it at the local level in their immediate communities or amongst their personal networks. Women's history has long been concerned with the question of experience, considering, for example, how politics impacts on the lives of political actors rather than on political theory or on how family budgets governed what was eaten and worn rather than on broader questions of economic history. Biographical approaches have also been popular amongst feminist historians, and again these lend themselves to local studies offering individual lives as examples of broader themes or trends. However, all participants were keen to emphasize that such histories ought to be anything but parochial. Women's history, it was felt, was able to look at the local not simply in terms of constraint but as a site of common experiences which were shaped by inter/national phenomena. All of the local studies presented at the conference were aware that they served as examples of broader issues, and demonstrated how the local engages with larger historical themes. The centre's next event will be an international symposium considering the links between radical cultures and regional identities. This will take place on 21 and 22 September. For more details, please contact Professor Krista Cowman, Department of Humanities, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln LN6 7TS kcowman@lincoln.ac.uk

12. Local History Conference At Keele  Show more → Show less ↓

another successful event reported by Nigel Tringham


An audience of nearly 50 people (including BALH's chairman, Professor Claire Cross) participated in the Local History conference to celebrate the 100th Jack Leighton Local History Seminar held at Keele University on 17 March 2007 and organised by Dr Nigel Tringham on behalf of the university's Humanities Research Institute together with BALH. (At least three people were present who had attended the first seminar in January 1979). The first speaker, Dr Robin Studd of Keele, paid tribute to the generosity of Jack Leighton, a local tax inspector, who in 1961 established the biennial Earl Lecture in memory of his wife (Earl being her maiden name). Relating to any aspect of the history of Staffordshire, the lecture has been delivered by a succession of distinguished historians (such as Rodney Hilton, Margaret Spufford, David Hey, Joan Thirsk, and Chris Dyer) who might otherwise not have turned their attention to the county. The same benefactor also made it possible for the History Department through its Centre for Local History to set up, independently from university funding, the continuing series of local history seminars at which papers are given by both professional historians and amateurs, in particular those who have attended the university's Certificate and MA courses in Local History. Several papers have since been published in the department's journal, Staffordshire Studies, and more generally the seminar has provided a valuable link between the university and the wider community. 'The Great Tradition' of the three-year university extension classes pioneered by R. H. Tawney under the aegis of the Workers Educational Association in the early 20th century was the subject of the talk by Professor David Hey from Sheffield University (and BALH's president). Having pointed out that Tawney himself had taught in North Staffordshire, Professor Hey went on to describe appreciatively his own experience of working on local history topics with adult education classes for several decades until changes in government funding led to the 'demise of liberal adult education' in many of the surviving university departments of Continuing Education (although Keele is somewhat an exception in this regard). Finally in the morning session Dr John Hunt (formerly of the West Midlands WEA) gave an overview of the contribution made to local history studies by both national bodies such as English Heritage and the Council for British Archaeology, as well as county and town societies. With the recent and continued reduction in State funding for national bodies, he suggested that the teaching and study of local history might need to be 'privatised', and he stressed the leadership role that local archaeology and history societies might play in this development. In the afternoon session the first speaker was Professor John Beckett of Nottingham University but now on secondment as national Director of the Victoria County History. He described recent developments in the VCH's use of volunteers in undertaking research that could be incorporated into both the traditional VCH county volumes and also the new paperback imprint of VCH Studies. Led by paid Group Leaders who provide an element of quality control, volunteers often included those who had taken university Certificate courses and wished to pursue their interests outwith the format of a higher degree. The changing role of museums in presenting history to the public was the subject of the paper given by Dr Pam Sambrook, formerly a curator at the Museum of Staffordshire Life at Shugborough and now a freelance historian working on the lives of servants, notable in county houses. In a personal comment on recent developments, she discussed the impact of Heritage Lottery funding on promoting public accessibility and interaction at the expense of the curator's traditional emphasis on displaying and explaining the context of objects. Finally, Paul Anderton, formerly of Staffordshire University and now secretary of the North Staffordshire Guild of Historians (a locally-centred network of practising local historians), gave a perceptive critique of the nature of local history publications that had emanated from Keele in various guises (whether written by individuals, collaborations, or tutor-led groups), and offered suggestions for what criteria ought to be applied in framing the scope of such publications generally and in ensuring their quality. The conference provided a great deal of stimulus for discussion for which there was all too little time on the day. Those, however, who will attend BALH's own Local History Day in June, will have a second opportunity to consider some of the very important issues raised at Keele.

13. Alternative Technologies  Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby is not a Luddite!


At least as far as technology is concerned, I am a conservative. I think that sounds better than 'reactionary' or 'Luddite', though a friend of mine once suggested that I should be a living exhibit in a folk museum, because at that time (when everyone was acquiring a nice Amstrad) I was still writing with a pencil on index cards. I have progressed, and progressed far, since those distant days but I still regard CDs and DVDs—especially the latter—as rather advanced. Naturally I am incapable of doing anything with the DVD player and have to rely on the expertise of an 11-year old for guidance. It was therefore with a certain amount of trepidation that I reviewed two recent publications, one a CD and one a DVD. At this point I should declare an interest, for this was not entirely an objective exercise. One, the CD, was about my home town, of which I wrote the history, and the CD included not only lots of references to my work but also (by permission) copies of some of my maps. The DVD stars Chris Barringer, a good friend for a quarter of a century and the man who gently guided me onto the road of local history. Looking at the CD and the DVD was a very pleasant personal journey. The DVD, Exploring the Norfolk Village (presented by Christopher Barringer), accompanies an excellent 160-page book of the same title, but is marketed separately. Both are supported by a range of on-line resources available on the website of the publisher, Poppyland Publishing. The basic format of both involves an introductory section considering the regions of Norfolk (that county which, as Chris emphasises, is not flat and is unexpectedly diverse in character). This is followed by fourteen case studies, which look at villages of different types in the context of the various sub-regions of the county (such as Weeting, in Breckland) or are shaped by specific human influences (Binham and its priory, Great Melton and its landed estate). The book includes numerous maps, plans, explanatory diagrams and detailed text analyses, as well as references and a short list of titles for further reading, none of which can be incorporated in a DVD. The strength of the latter is therefore its use of aerial and other photography, highlighting three-dimensional qualities in the landscape, and the author's own voice and presence. For the more serious student there is no doubt that the book is much more significant, so the DVD should be seen as complementary, but for the less experienced 'interested layman' the DVD will be a welcome introduction. It includes a short section explaining about the Norfolk Record Office and how to use it; close-ups of documents, with simply beautiful script; and voice-overs in a mild Norfolk accent (not that of Mr Barringer!) reading out document text. The DVD was a nostalgic journey through lovely Norfolk landscapes, with a useful though relatively low-key academic content. There are a few criticisms—the subject of the commentary does not always correspond with that of the images on screen, and in some places the sound and the visuals have been poorly edited so that Chris is shown to be speaking but there is no sound. But this is a good idea which might be adopted by other local publishers of village and county history. The CD, Early Woking Buildings and their occupants, was compiled by the ever-industrious Phillip Arnold and published by the West Surrey Family History Society. Its aim is to include all the earlier (pre-18th century) buildings surviving in the ancient parish of Woking, together with some that have been lost. For many of the 101 buildings some details of architectural and historical significance and provenance are given, but the main element—an invaluable one, which reflects the fact that this is produced by a family history society—is coverage of all available census and directory evidence for the occupants, and information from other sources. This is, therefore, not an architectural gazetteer, but a source which offers much potential for looking at the social history of specific houses in the longer historical span. While inevitably the most detailed evidence is from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, for many buildings the owners and occupiers are traced back to the sixteenth century. Whenever possible the text is linked to images (118 in all) of the buildings. Most are good-quality recent photographs (though clearly there were access problems—some are taken through gaps in hedges) but there are some earlier drawings and engravings. All information is referenced, with a detailed list of sources at the start. This CD was produced as a second edition, much of the text having previously been available in printed booklet format, but the opportunity was taken not only to update text but also to include the many colour illustrations. The buildings are covered in a geographical sequence via each of the seven tithings of Woking manor, and the separate manors of Sutton and Bridley. It is extremely easy to navigate through the CD, with very clear instructions and detailed explanations of context and content. Although not originally in this format, the subject matter lends itself very well to the CD approach, because it involves self-contained catalogue-style entries with accessible and clear indexing and access routes. The buildings are varied, ranging from the remains of the great Tudor royal palace beside the River Wey, via numerous delightful seventeenth and eighteenth century 'old West Surrey' farmhouses, to small cottages and a few early or mid-eighteenth century houses. The CD is excellent value for money and its production is a praiseworthy enterprise by the West Surrey FHS. It could provide a very worthwhile model for other local and family history societies. Exploring the Norfolk Village [on DVD'>more... presented by Christopher Barringer (Poppyland Productions 2006) £12.95 [www.poppyland.co.uk/press'>more...; Early Woking Buildings and their occupants compiled by Phillip Arnold (West Surrey FHS 2006) £11 [www.wsfhs.org or WSFHS 17 Lane End Drive, Knaphill, Woking GU21 2QQ'>more...

14. Exquisite Workmanship  Show more → Show less ↓

book review by Jane Howells


Artists and Craftsmen of the 19th century Derby China Factory David Manchip Landmark Collector's Library Landmark Publishing Ltd 2004 ISBN 1 84306 139 2 £45 Given the series to which this beautifully illustrated book belongs, it is clearly aimed a specialised market of the aficionado, an assumption reinforced by the absence of background information and lack of historical context. This is a great pity because the material contained between its covers is of much wider interest and value. David Manchip has presented a meticulously researched series of biographies of well over a hundred men who worked, as the title says, at the Derby china factory during the 19th century. He argues in the Introduction that although it is the products of the 'Golden Period' from1785 to 1800 that are most prized by collectors, changing tastes and changing technologies exploited by subsequent generations of workers produced wares of equally high quality. Giving an outline history of the works at this point (and there is a good two-thirds of empty page that could have been filled) would prevent the reader wondering about 'the closure of the factory in 1848', the relationship between 'the King Street works' and 'the Nottingham Road works', and the 'turnout' of 1826 (and that's just on page 16). Parish registers, civil registration records, census enumerators' books, and trade directories have been trawled to draw up detailed pictures of the families and working lives of these men. The result reveals intricate kinship and commercial networks. More than one generation working together and/or in succession was common. Some individuals gave very long service. It was a geographically very mobile workforce, as people moved from one place to another, taking employment with all the 'big names' of the industry – Coalport, Minton, Rockingham, Worcester and more, as well as Derby, and some travelled to London and France for experience and opportunities. Labour seems to have been flexible as individuals exploited their talents to move from gilders to painters, or from china painters to drawing masters, or landscape or portrait painters. Some of these men exhibited at the Royal Academy, and moved in metropolitan artistic circles. Others left employment and set up as individual businessmen, sometimes heading substantial enterprises. This is an enormously rich potential source for analysing an industrial community that was much more complex than might appear at first sight. The author has successfully challenged a number of assumptions made in earlier works about individuals. As a starting point, he has relied heavily on 'Haslem', The Old Derby Factory by J Haslem, published in 1876, saying 'we will never again have the chance to be so close to the people involved and to know some of the day to day details of their lives'. It would be interesting to know more of Mr Haslem and his book. Despite some errors proved, not surprisingly as 'some of the more elderly workmen, it turns out, did not accurately know their age, nor sometimes the year that they either arrived at, or left, the Derby factory', this is clearly an important source of information. Another intriguing, unexplained, document is 'the list of workpeople at the Derby factory in 1832'. Not until page 93 do we get the elaboration '…1832, when the list of contributors to the King's Gift was drawn up'. (I am assuming this was the same list, or perhaps there were two made in that year?) What was the King's Gift? Why was it made? Did everyone on the workforce contribute? How reliable is the evidence in the list? No woman is the subject of a full biography, and Mrs Mary Brewer merits a subsidiary heading only to confirm that she is not the wife of Robert Brewer. Tantalizing references to women working as 'china printer', 'burnisher', 'paintress' 'glass, china & earthernware dealer' in the biographies of their menfolk indicates there is another fascinating investigation to be made of the female workforce in this industry. Hopefully someone will respond to Mr Manchip's offer to delve into his database and explore this particular topic further. As well as the detailed life histories, and the timeline diagrams showing when workers in different specialities were active, another strength of this book is the quality and number of the illustrations. Nearly two hundred colour photographs demonstrate the workmanship and artistic skill of those who laboured at Derby china works at this time. For these alone the volume is a delight, and it is not possible to do them justice in the monochrome examples reproduced here. Also to be found are signatures which have assisted with distinguishing one artist from another of the same name; and plenty of samples of their other work – watercolour landscapes, self-portraits and more – revealing the versatility of many of these artists. It might be considered too pernickety to mention extraneous commas, inconsistent tenses, an unusual style of bibliography, unnecessary repetition (explaining the gilders' identification numbers several times), and errors such as referring to illustrations as 'following' when they appeared earlier, but at this price the reader might expect a higher standard of copyediting. Perhaps the missed opportunities in this volume will be taken up in future. It would be a great pity if this valuable material were not exploited for a wider audience.

15. Disillusionment  Show more → Show less ↓

slips of the pen provide entertainment


Among the occasional minor pleasures of teaching local history is that every now and then I mark an essay which contains one of those perfect imperfections—a word or phrase which, though entirely wrong, is so appropriate that it deserves to be right. Quite often the imperfections are those of style: for example, the student who wrote that 'At the end of the Civil War, parliament did the king in' was not actually wrong, but clearly the phraseology could have been rather more polished. Likewise, there are the errors which are endlessly repeated even by those who should know better. Every year, when teaching on the history of housing, I look forward to the misuse of the words 'sewage' and 'sewerage', and I am rarely disappointed. The most recent instance was the following sentence: 'Small builders could easily have provided sewage for every house but they did not'. That's a relief. But back to those perfect imperfections. The best ever, I think, was an essay which referred throughout to 'the Disillusionment of the Monasteries', which is a revealing description of late medieval Catholicism … 'Oh dear me, oh dear me'. 'Brother Edmund, what ever is the matter?'. 'Well, Brother Thomas, it's just so … well, you know … I'm so completely fed up'. 'But Brother Edmund, why so? How can you be fed up when you are in this magnificent abbey with its glorious late fifteenth century fan vaulting and newly-built domestic range exemplifying the increasing adoption of ideas of personal space and material comfort …oh yes, and verily I think on the fast track to Heaven'. 'But that's the point. I mean, ten years ago I came into this place full of hope and thinking that everything would be, you know, just right. Save the world. Spread the message. Save souls. Mine especially. Fast track to Heaven, as you so eloquently put it. I should never have listened to my mother. You know what they're like … “Dearest, we just want you to be happy, if you really want to be a groat-carrier or a cesspit-emptier that's absolutely fine by us, if it would make you truly happy, but your father and I do feel that you have talents and it would be such a shame to waste them. And we don't want you getting mixed up with disreputable girls like that simply frightful Agnes Stirkettle down Dead Dog Alley. We were sort of wondering …have you ever thought about a monastic career? A sensitive boy like you – it's just what you need and no problems about the housekeeping either". So in I came. I was persuaded. I mean, they probably wanted me in here just so she could boast to the neighbours. “Of course my boy Edmund, he's gone into SUCH a nice monastery. Not one of those little ones which I reckon might be dissolved before we're much older. No, he's got a really prestigious place in one of those Benedictine ones. Lovely people, so well-bred and refined. Not 'in your face' like those Cistercians, and of course we'd never have let him join a mendicant order because they're …you know, a bit too 'sandals and dusty feet' for my liking. And going among the poor, it's not very nice is it? But a Benedictine …he's done really well for himself". So in I came. And what's there to show for it? What's the point of it all? Ennui. Boredom. Every day the same. Sore knees. Nearly falling down the night stair every 2 am because I'm so tired. Good food, I grant you, but how can you work up a healthy appetite knowing you'll having to listen to endless repetitions of all those tedious chapters of the rule. Big yawn. Wake me up when he's finished. And then the warming house. Warm, I grant you. But fun? No way. If I have to listen to Brother Michael going on and on about that problem with the reredorter roof once more I will not be answerable for my actions. And as for the latrine block, I know we've got a double-decker of circa 1480 and we should be proud of our late medieval architectural innovation, and I know that the efficiency of our running water flushing system will probably not be equalled for another three hundred years, but for goodness sake, surely a modicum of heating in the place would not bring about the collapse of Western Christendom? I practically froze to the seat last week. And as for those talents … what for? I can sing. I've a good voice. But all that Gregorian chant day in day out. A nice round of Greensleeves wouldn't go amiss but any chance of that? You must be joking. But of course you can't joke either. Happy? Me? Totally disillusioned more like. I tell you, Brother Thomas, if—let me put forward a totally hypothetical scenario—the king decided to get rid of the religious houses and establish a national Church independent of the papacy, I wouldn't shed too many tears. And anyway, Agnes Stirkettle wasn't half bad, come to think of it …'

16. Notes News Issues  Show more → Show less ↓


RESPONSE TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES: The Association was invited to comment on The National Archives (TNA)'s revised Acquisition and Disposition Strategy and responded on 26 February. Apart from a number of technical aspects the opportunity was taken to make some more general points: 'While BALH welcomes a clearer acquisition and disposition strategy, there is anxiety about a seeming move away from TNA's other core activities of preservation, cataloguing and indexing of historical archives towards greater emphasis on exploitation of information resources. We understand the imperatives and the constraints on TNA resulting from the latest Comprehensive Spending Review, but our members' perception is that revenue-generating activities are now the priority. There is also a concern that TNA's concentration on the exploitation of information assets may suggest that it has lost sight of the use of national archives as a means of understanding the history of Britain. Indexing, and placing on line, records aimed primarily at a single constituency is having the accidental effect of actually curtailing access to the public records for other types of users. BALH wishes to emphasise the need for detailed consultation with all categories of users and a recognition that, because usage patterns will inevitably change, the privileging of any single group of users, however large, is undesirable. Furthermore, delegating the calendaring of classes of records of less immediate general interest to academic historians able to obtain financial sponsorship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, unless carefully orchestrated, is also unlikely in the long term to fulfil the needs of users. This does not sit well with TNA's long established and respected role as the authoritative body in respect of management and governance of records and the provider of access to the archives of the nation. BALH members who read the Archive Inspection Service's account of the risks to the archival heritage from the sale of archives by private owners find disapproval of these activities difficult to reconcile with TNA proposals which treat records as a resource to be exploited. Researchers respect TNA because in the past it has demonstrated the highest professional standards in archive preservation, management and services to the public. BALH strongly hopes that strategies will be put in place and adequately resourced to make sure that these core values and functions of TNA are not undermined by short-term financial pressures.' The new TNA Acquisition and Deposition Strategy can be found at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/acquisition_strategy.pdfASSEMBLY 3 March 2007: Mr Stephen Pewsey from the Essex Archaeological and Historical Congress was welcomed on joining the Publications Committee. This committee endorsed including an award for the a local society newsletter in the Annual Awards. The Reviews Editor's nomination was accepted and will be included in the Awards made at Local History Day on 2 June. The Education Committee discussed a number of on-going ideas, focusing particularly on post-compulsory and adult education links with Higher Education organisations with a view to 'joint badged' events. The possibility of a an award for a school history club was explored .and the new School subscription rate of £25 was welcomed. The Events Committee welcomed Professor Chris Dyer and devoted most of its meeting to discussing with him the plans for a conference at Leicester University to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of W G Hoskins' Local History in England, a three day event to be held in July 2009.

17. News From Archives  Show more → Show less ↓


100th anniversary of the scouting movement is likely to feature in a number of exhibitions this summer. Chester Community History and Heritage team has been working with local groups and individuals to host a special exhibition featuring photographs and memorabilia from local people and collectors. It will coincide with the visit of European scouts to the UK, and will most certainly tie in with CHH summer holiday children's workshops. St Michael's Church, Bridge Street Row East, Chester CH1 1NW chh@chester.gov.uk See also www.scouts.org.uk/2007/ Two hundred years since 1807 and the passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act has been marked throughout the country in many different ways (see pages 4 and 12, and the covers, of this issue of LHN). The programme of events from February to October in Wolverhampton has been published in a striking pamphlet.www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk/resources An 18th century love token found amongst family papers atDorset History Centre has been explained. Staff copied the fragile sheet of paper, covered with fragments of a love poem illustrated with tiny watercolour pictures, and discovered that it folded into a three-dimensional shape and the verses became a proposal of marriage. The Times 12 February 2007. The British Steel cataloguing project atCumbria Record Office and Local Studies Library in Whitehaven was officially launched in February. Made available for the first time are the fascinating archives of steelmaking in West Cumbria, chronicling an important part of the county's history. The collection includes a wide variety of records from the company, including many relating to subsidiary mining companies in the area. There are many photographs both of official occasions, and social and sporting events organised by the company. An important aspect of the project has been the level of community involvement and the enhanced profile for the Archive Service in West Cumbria. Friends of Cumbria Archives. www.focasonline.org.uk www.cumbria.gov.uk/archives Amongst the archive collections recently catalogued and made available under the Documenting the Workshop of the World project fromBlack Country Archive Services is that of Walsall Lock and Cart Gear Ltd. This firm was born out of early trade union struggles in the lock making trade. Demands for higher wages in 1872 led to a workplace closedown. A benefit fund was set up to help the men but it was decided that the money could be put to better us by helping the workers become self-employed. By early 1873 they had purchased tools and were ready to start work. becoming the Walsall Cooperative Lock and Key Smith's Society Ltd in 1874. Though under different names during its life, the concept of working class cooperation remained at the heart of the company in principle and in practice. Changes of premises, of technology, and of product range can be seen during the twentieth century. The company went into liquidation in 1985. The lockmaking element was taken over and continues to make the original range of padlocks today.www.blackcountryhistory.org Seven regional film archives (London Screen Study Collection, Media Archive for Central England, Northern Region Film and Television Archive, Screen Archive South East, South West Film and Television Archive, Wessex Film and Sound Archive, and Yorkshire Film Archive) have researched and digitised significant World War Two film from their collections for integration into a new online historical resource. The website 'Films from the Home Front' offers free access to these selected films, most of which are being made available to the public for the first time. They offer a unique perspective on the lives of ordinary people in Britain on the home front as seen through amateur films, and home movies as well as more 'official' sources such as newsreels and government films. The website is part of a film archives project within the Big Lottery Fund's programme Their Past Your Future, with funding from MLA.http://www.movinghisory.ac.uk/homefront London Metropolitan Archives is offering a Slave History Walk on 9 June visiting locations in an around the City of London linked to the slave trade and the Londoners involved in it. There are also more opportunities to take their beginners' course 'Use LMA – Getting Started' on Wednesday 11 July or Thursday 16 August. www.lma.gov.uk * NB Come to the BALH event on Thursday 15 November to find out more about LMA – see Supplement page 1. LondonRemembers is a new website for historical research and genealogy in London. The site aims to map all London's memorials – the plaques, monuments and statues that pepper the city and often go unnoticed. Each memorial is photographed and mapped, the text is transcribed, and background information provided. The site can be searched by name, and category, and cross-referencing allows the reader to find all memorials to one person, or in one place. There is a similar project called BrusselsRemembers.www.LondonRemembers.com Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service Newsletter Winter 2007 illustrates the fascinating subject of 'recycling' documents for other purposes. Items from their collections include this 15th century graduale used to cover the first Oakley parish register in 1560. The holes down the centre show where the cover was sewn onto the textblock. (Ref. P40/1/9) www.bedscc.gov.uk/archiveThree souvenir programmes of royal visits to Sheffield in the late 19th and early 20th centuries have been the subject of conservation work by Sheffield Archives & Local Studies Conservation Unit. Printed on white crepe paper tissue, the items were then handpainted with bright flowers along the borders. Their extreme fragility meant they could not be made available to users, but they have now been mounted on board and placed in polyester sleeves for safety. www.sheffield.gov.uk/librariesLetters and documents relating to the dyeing and clothier business of the Whitchurch family of Frome, Somerset are to be found at The National Archives C104/3. They were delivered to the court of Chancery as evidence in a family dispute over legacies in a will. Included in the collection are six dye recipe books with a colour sample of wool alongside the recipe. These Wool Sample Books are of incredible value for textile, social and industrial historians, but their use has been limited due to their poor physical condition. An article in PROphile, the magazine of the Friends of the National Archives, describes in detail how the very specialised task of conservation treatment has been approached, and documented. The books will always be vulnerable so only very restricted access will ever be possible, but true colour digitisation and an online exhibition are planned.www.nationalarcchives.gov.uk/friends/

18. News From Libraries  Show more → Show less ↓


Following publicity given to the possibility that charges will be made for access to the British Library collections,LHN has done a quick survey of some other national libraries' websites to ascertain the situation elsewhere. There is no mention of charges for Wales, Scotland, Eire, Italy, Spain, Australia, Japan, or the Library of Congress in the US. Belgium charges 20 € pa for a standard adult ticket, and France and Germany both 35€. Twenty issues ago, the cover illustration of Local History Newsnumber 63 was a portrait of Sir Thomas Bodley. In 2002 the Bodleian Library at Oxford was celebrating four hundred years since its foundation in 1602. Another landmark was reached recently with the appointment of Dr Sarah Thomas as executive head of Oxford University Library Services. This is the first time a woman has taken charge, and also the first person born outside these shores. Dr Thomas has come to Oxford from Cornell University, and before that she was acting head of Public Service Collections at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The Independent 21 February 2007 p 9. www.bodley.ox.ac.uk The British Library contains a treasure trove of diaries, and considers it is vital that the tradition of diary-keeping survives. Concerned that the use of blogs as the modern equivalent will mean the loss of such personal reflections in the future, the BL is working with several organisations to collect blog archives and encourage authors to archives their posts.The Times 5 March 2007 page 5

19. News From Museums  Show more → Show less ↓


14 to 22 July 2007 is National Archaeology Week. Its objective is to encourage everyone to discover and explore the archaeological heritage of the United Kingdom, through events such as excavation open days, guided tours, lectures, and ancient art and craft workshops. A full list of registered event will be available on the website shortly. www.britarch/naw/index.html Scottish Archaeology Month runs for September. www.scottisharchaeology.org.ukMembers of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions comprise the majority of Britain's biggest and best-known attractions. The annual publication of visitor statistics for the previous year always raises interesting questions about who visits what and why, and what factors cause the numbers to rise or fall. Of the 135 attractions listed, the largest number of visitors in 2006 went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach (over 5.7 million), and the smallest to the National Museum of Costume (Scotland) with 10,717 visitors. In between are all the well-known places you can think of, and many that are less famous nationally but have local or regional importance. Third comes the British Museum; the National Maritime Museum is 12th and the National Rail Museum 23rd. St Fagans is 31st on the list, the Discovery Museum (Tyne and Wear) 43rd, and the Pier Master's House, Liverpool, 124th. Changes, of course, come about for many different reasons, and it could be argued that comparisons are iniquitous, but a few examples are +48% for the Falkirk Wheel, -26% for the National War Museum (Scotland), +11% for the National Slate Museum in Wales, and -11% for Corfe Castle in Dorset.www.alva.org.uk/visitor_statisics/ A Viking hoard of 22 silver arm bands found at Huxley in 2004 has been purchased jointly by the Grosvenor Museum,National Museums Liverpool, and Cheshire Museums Service, thanks to a HLF grant. Dating from the mid-ninth to mid-tenth century, the strips of silver are intricately decorated in the Irish Sea style of the period using distinction punch work. The hoard will return from the British Museum to the north west for the Magical History Tour exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in July 2007. The Past Uncovered., Chester Archaeology, Design and Conservation News. www.chester.gov.uk/PDF/newsl_February07.pdf The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Renaissance project has been encouraging the sharing of expertise between museums in Subject Specialist Networks. Funding will go to 14 new groups in the latest round of implementation grants announced in April 2007. In the list is the Rural Museums Network, Plastics, Fire Heritage Network, Dress and Textile Specialists, British Cartoon Forum, and the British Aviation Preservation Council (who are 'establishing a number of pilot sites' – sorry I couldn't resist that –Ed).www.mla.gov.uk/website/programmes/renaissance/subject_specialist_networks.mA newly-restored Travelling Post Office was unveiled at The Railway Age in Crewe last month. The British Postal Museum and Archive acquired the carriage in 1999 from Birmingham Railway Museum, and this new exhibition marks the end of several years of restoration. Also featured is the history of TPOs, and the pride and camaraderie of TPO workers, seen through objects, oral history, and screenings of the famous GPO film Night Mail.www.postalheritage.org.uk www.therailwayage.co.uk On view at Dulwich Picture Gallery from 1 August to 4 November is an exhibition The Changing Face of Childhood: British Children's Portraits and their Influence in Europe.www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk (see also page 28 for the BALH visit to Dulwich on 27 September) A collection of 460 photographs of Dover taken at the beginning of the twentieth century has been bought by Dover Museum (with grants from the Victoria and Albert Museum and the town council). Put together by a local collector over more than 25 years, the images are hand-printed photographs by local photographers printed on postcard-back cards (rather than mass-produced postcards). There are rare images of special occasions, and evocative views of local shops and street scenes. Remembering how much of Dover has been demolished and rebuilt since these pictures were taken, they provide an important addition to the Museum's record of Dover's past.www.dover.gov.uk/museum/ Due to open this Spring is a magnificent new building for Shetland Museums and Archives. The striking design incorporates recycled materials, and sits alongside Hay's Dock, the last remaining part of old Lerwick waterfront dating from the 1830s. With two galleries and a huge sail-shaped boat hall, this will house over 3,000 artefacts and introduce Shetland's story through 12 thematic zones. The state-of-the-art archive facility contains written records from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, plus oral history recordings and musical archives. The dock and pier are also being refurbished, and over thirty stunning pieces of public art have been created for the area. www.shetlandmuseumsandarchives.org.uk Cheltenham Museum opened on 20 June 1907 in four rooms above the Library in Clarence Street. It contained displays on natural history, local prints and archaeology, and decorative art. A series of events during 2007 will celebrate the centenary. From 21 April to 28 July there is an exhibition 'Not Just History: collections from the past for the present' which will show a fascinating selection of objects from the museum including local archaeological finds that are providing vital data for studies into Third World diets.www.cheltenhammuseum.org.uk/centenary/index.html