June 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the official opening of Erskine Hospital. Located in the west coast of Scotland, Erskine was founded in 1916 as the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, a military convalescence facility for servicemen who had lost limbs in the First World War. The creation of the hospital was a direct response to the need for specialised medical facilities to deal with the unprecedented number of injured and maimed service personnel returning from the battlefields, and for the last 100 years has continued to care for ex-Service men and women.
In 2015 the University of Glasgow received an award from the Wellcome Trust to catalogue and preserve the records of Erskine Hospital. The partnership came about as part of the University’s Great War project, and as part of Erskine’s centenary celebrations. It will ensure that material is preserved and accessible for researchers and outreach projects in perpetuity.
The Erskine Collection is vast in its scope – ranging from items intrinsically tied to the running of the hospital, such as minute books and admissions records, to items such as silk embroidered souvenir postcards sent during the First World War, or correspondence and loose photographs, the owner or subject of which may have been a resident at some point in time. While the administrative records are essential for documenting the running of the facility and tracing individual patients of Erskine, patient experiences, perspectives, and voices are also captured in an array of documents.
Admission Books show that by December 1917 the number of patients admitted to the hospital was 1,613, and of those 1,126 had been ‘discharged with limbs’. More than 2,145 ex-service pensioners from previous wars also attended Erskine to be fitted with new limbs or limb repairs. Between the opening in October 1916 and December 1919 over 400 major operations were performed.
The Princess Louise Scottish Hospital Rules for Patients give a taste of the patient experience during the 1920s. While Erskine provided long term care and rehabilitation for many, patients were expected to follow the strict practices enforced by the hospital staff. Activities such as gambling and smoking were restricted or even forbidden, and bed and meal times were strictly adhered to. However, Erskine was always intended to be more than just a hospital. In return for their co-operation with the rules of the Hospital, patients were given the opportunity to retrain and gain new skills through onsite workshops; classes were set up in basketry, shoemaking, tailoring, woodwork, hairdressing and commercial training, ensuring the men would have the opportunity to re-enter the workforce despite their disability upon being discharged from Erskine.
After the war the number of patients entering the hospital due to amputation naturally decreased. The Executive Committee shifted focus toward providing a permanent home for ex-servicemen requiring long term care.
As well as being a busy functioning hospital Erskine became a permanent home for paraplegic residents unable to live independently. Additionally in 1934, a convalescent holiday scheme was introduced which allowed ex-servicemen who had been ill and could not afford to pay for a holiday to come to Erskine for a break. In September 1946 the first of 50 cottages was built in the grounds of Erskine, allowing disabled men and their families to live near their place of work and close to the hospital facilities on which they depended.
During the 1960s and 1970s the patients of Erskine produced a magazine The Erskine Bugle. The Bugle ensured patients and staff could learn about events taking place throughout the hospital, and the poems, stories and letters submitted give a voice to those who stayed at Erskine during this period. The magazines offer a unique perspective into the community of Erskine, and serve as a worthy legacy to the patients and staff who created it.
The hospital continually expanded in the second half of the 20th century, with new wings being built in 1950, 1962, 1975, and the 1990s. However it was clear the 19th century manor house was no longer equipped to deal with the demand of the busy convalescence home. In 2000 the new state of the art facility was completed to provide long term residential care for veterans.
The partnership between Erskine and the University of Glasgow is ongoing, and regular accessions are expected, ensuring an impressively full record of the activities of the hospital, its staff, and its patients is reflected in the collection, from both World Wars and the National Service era, right through to the present day.
For more information on the Erskine archive, and the collections held at the University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections, please visit:
In May 1937 approximately 4,000 children, with labels pinned to their clothes, came to Southampton on board the Habana from Santurzi/Santurce, the port of Bilbo/Bilbão, fleeing the Spanish Civil War and its consequences.
The Spanish Second Republic had been established in 1931, with an ambitious agenda to eliminate deeply-rooted social and cultural inequalities. The republican programme encompassed land and education reform, improved rights for women, restructuring the army, and granting autonomy to Catalonia and the Basque Country. Threatened by far-reaching change, diverse political groupings aligned themselves in the so-called ‘two Spains’. The ensuing civil war lasted three years, with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy helping one faction, Communist Russia the other, with Chamberlain’s Britain leading a policy of appeasement among Western democratic nations. In this bitter conflict, there was a third Spain, which did not want to take up arms, but to live in peace. War, hunger, revolution, counter-revolution, denunciations, persecution, summary trials and executions, and mass repression often resulted in the disintegration of family and community life, desolating a country and forcing thousands of its people into exile.
On 26 April 1937, General Franco attacked Guernica and Durango, one of the first bombings of a civilian population in Europe. In the wake of this, the Basque government and the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, co-ordinating relief in the UK, organised the evacuation of children from the north front of the war zone. The British government had a policy of non-intervention in Spain and, whilst it permitted the children to entry the UK, no public funds were made available for the expedition, nor for the care of the children once they arrived. Their maintenance was provided for entirely by private funds and those raised by voluntary groups and organisations, under the overall co-ordination of the Basque Children’s Committee.
On arrival at Southampton, the children were sent to a hastily constructed camp at North Stoneham, near Eastleigh, which now forms part of Southampton Airport.
This was the children’s temporary home until they were dispersed to be cared for by the Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, which accommodated children in a hostel in London, or in the so-called “colonies” set up by local committees across the country. Eventually over ninety “colonies” were established, each housing between 20 to 50 children. Ranging from stately homes to converted workhouses, the “colonies” were run on donations. When the initial funding for them began to dry up, the niños were drawn into helping raise funds by performing concerts and shows and by taking part in football matches with local teams.
The children who came on board the Habana brought very little in the way of personal possessions with them, but they brought memories of the conflict and a sense of their identity. Aside from the shows and concerts where the children dressed in national costume, sang songs or performed dances from home, publications such as Amistad, one of the newsletters produced by the children themselves, were a means for them to remember. Conceived as an informative monthly publication, the newsletter contains pieces describing life in the Basque region, the bombing of Guernica, reflections on war and the journey on the Habana.
The Special Collections at the Hartley Library, University of Southampton, holds archives for the Basque Children of ‘37 Association UK (MS 404), which was founded in 2002 to ensure that the legacy of the Basque children was not forgotten, together with small collections relating to Basque child refugees (MS 370) that have come from individuals. Further details on the collection can be found on the website at:
Archives Hub Themed Collection: Open Lives. The OpenLives project documented the experiences of Spanish migrants returning to Spain after settling in the UK. Researchers from the University of Southampton collected oral testimony, images and other ephemera.
All images copyright the Hartley Library, University of Southampton and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.
Explore descriptions relating to liberalism on the Archives Hub.
The Guardian is one Britain’s leading newspapers, with a long standing reputation as a platform for Liberal opinion, and an international online community of 30.4 million readers. Founded in Manchester in 1821, it was created by John Edward Taylor, a cotton manufacturer. In the wake of the Peterloo massacre, the paper was intended as a means of expressing Liberal opinion and advocating political reform. Over the next 100 years, the paper originally known as the Manchester Guardian would be transformed from a small provincial journal into a paper of international relevance and renown.
The Guardian archive consists of two main elements: the records of the newspaper as a business; and a very extensive collection of editorial correspondence and despatches from reporters, and was donated to the University of Manchester John Rylands Library in 1971. From April 2016-March 2017, a project entitled ‘What The Papers Say’ was undertaken to catalogue the editorial correspondence of Charles Prestwich Scott, which contains nearly 13,000 items from over 1,300 correspondents.
Charles Prestwich Scott (1846-1932) presided over the Manchester Guardian for 57 years, cementing the Liberal editorial philosophy of the paper, and ensuring a consistently high standard of journalism and journalistic integrity. He championed causes including women’s suffrage, home rule for Ireland, and the establishment of a Jewish homeland, and stood out against Britain’s policy in South Africa during the Boer war, and conscription during the First World War, supporting the formation of the League of Nations and negotiations for peace in Europe.
C.P. Scott’s editorial correspondence series contains letters exchanged with figures of historical importance and eminence in almost every imaginable field, from politics and economics, to history, science and the arts. These individuals often contributed articles to the paper, and met with the editor to discuss current events and affairs. Examples of correspondents include politicians including Herbert Asquith, David Lloyd George, Ramsay MacDonald and Winston Churchill, and also Marion Phillips, first woman organiser of the Labour party, and Mary Agnes Hamilton, politician and broadcaster.
Campaigners for women’s suffrage are represented in the correspondence by Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst, and Charlotte Despard, amongst many others.
The Liberal perspective of Scott and the Manchester Guardian can be seen in the interactions between Scott and Roger Casement, Irish nationalist, Rabindranath Tagore, poet and educationist, Emily Hobhouse, social activist and charity worker, Chaim Weizmann, Zionist, and social reformers Eleanor Rathbone and James Joseph Mallon. Scott creates a dialogue with these individuals about their fields of expertise, using the paper to provide a platform for the promotion of their views and causes.
The editors and proprietors of other newspapers are also featured in the correspondence, including William Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook of the Daily Express, and James Louis Garvin of The Observer. Their correspondence includes discussion of current events and politics, and also expressions of admiration for Scott and the Manchester Guardian.
Literary figures also feature in the correspondence, such as George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, William Butler Yeats, Harley Granville-Barker and Arthur Ransome. Prior to writing Swallows and Amazons, Ransome acted as a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian in Russia and Estonia, also writing a long running column for the paper on fishing.
In addition to occasional and expert contributors, there is a vast array of correspondence with members of staff of the paper, relating to editorial, technical, business and staffing concerns. These letters provide insight into the operation of a newspaper, alongside an impression of the colossal impact of events such as the First and Second World Wars.
Threaded through Scott’s correspondence, and the Guardian archive, there is also a real sense of the influence of the paper’s location in Manchester, and the significance of the Manchester Guardian in the history of the city. It can be seen in the approach to trade and industry, to the arts, and to education.
The centrality of trade and industry in Manchester meant that these subjects became a focal point of the Manchester Guardian. Such was the Manchester Guardian’s influence, that by 1920, Scott was able to employ the renowned economist John Maynard Keynes to produce a series of supplements for the Manchester Guardian Commercial on proposals for the reconstruction of Europe following the First World War.
Scott believed in the importance of producing a high quality of articles and reviews on the arts, and ensured coverage in the Manchester Guardian for literature, art, theatre and music. This would lead to a close relationship between the paper and Manchester’s resident symphony orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra. Scott would also become a supporter of the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Manchester Art Gallery, and of the production of Ford Madox Brown’s Manchester murals for the city’s town hall.
Scott used the Manchester Guardian to champion the importance of access to education, evident in his work as a trustee of Owens College, which would become the University of Manchester. Scott was also one of the founders of Withington Girls School, established in 1890. This belief in the importance of education for women may be seen as an element of his more general perspective on women’s rights, which would lead to his influential support of the women’s suffrage movement.
For more information on the Guardian archive, and the collections held at the John Rylands Library, please visit:
Guardian News and Media Archive
The GNM Archive mainly holds records that relate to the Guardian since its move from Manchester to London in the 1960s (and some earlier records though the majority are held at the John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester).
Explore the Guardian News and Media Archive collections on the Archives Hub.
All images copyright The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.
The nuclear disarmament symbol, often known as the ‘peace sign’, is a modern icon, used by protestors and activists across the world and provoking powerful emotions. It is ubiquitous in fashion and youth culture, to be seen on clothing, jewellery, tattoos, even toiletries. Special Collections at the University of Bradford is home to the original sketches of this extraordinary design.
The symbol was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, an artist based in Twickenham. It was intended for use on a march from London to the nuclear weapons research establishment at Aldermaston that Easter. The march was being organised by a small group of activists influenced by Gandhi’s ideas about nonviolent resistance; they had formed the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War (DAC) the previous year in response to the testing of Britain’s first hydrogen bomb.
In creating the visuals for the march, Holtom wanted to develop a symbol for the concept of nuclear disarmament. In a 1973 letter to Hugh Brock (editor of Peace News in 1958, active in the Direct Action Committee), Holtom remembered:
“I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it. It was ridiculous at first and such a puny thing …“.
The symbol also represented the semaphore signals for the letters N and D: Nuclear Disarmament.
Holtom sketched his design to meet the need of the moment; he did not expect the sketches to be of interest or preserved years into the future, and nor did many of his contemporaries. Among our other loans to the IWM, we see a letter from a fellow activist dated 10 March 1958; she rejected the use of the symbol, calling it ‘quite obscure’ and suggestive of ‘some Secret Society’.
However, the march organisers were pleased with the design and it was used extensively on DAC literature thereafter. Reflecting huge public anxiety about nuclear testing and the arms race, the 1958 Easter march attracted much larger numbers and attention than previous protests directed at Aldermaston. Marchers, passers-by, readers of newspapers; all saw the symbol in action, on leaflets, flyers, song-sheets and banners. Its popularity was assured when later that year the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament asked to adopt the symbol, and it has been synonymous with nuclear disarmament campaigns ever since. Easy to draw and to adapt, and hinting at other shapes and symbols (a missile, a tree …), the symbol was widely adopted by 1960s counter-cultural groups and came to symbolise peace and dissent more generally.
The original sketches remained with the papers of Hugh Brock. Following his death in 1985, these materials were given to the Commonweal Library, an independent public library, which stocks resources to help activists working for nonviolent social change. Commonweal is housed in the J.B. Priestley Library at the University of Bradford so, when the University set up its Special Collections service during the 2000s, it was natural for Commonweal to put their archival collections into the care of these specialist staff.
The sketches are among the most important objects held by Special Collections. There are four sketches, on three pieces of paper: two drawings of the shape and two illustrations of it in use on protest marches. Reproduction does not do these objects justice. In the flesh we see the weakness of the acidic paper, the cracking of the paint, and the wear and tear of storage and display.
2017 offered a rare chance to see these fragile originals on show. ‘People Power: fighting for peace’ was on show at the IWM London from 23 March-28 August 2017. The sketches took their place among hundreds of objects illustrating the stories of anti-war campaigners in Britain from 1917 to the present. Many of these stories can also be found through the Archives Hub.
Alison Cullingford Special Collections Librarian University of Bradford
Peace campaign archives in Special Collections at the University of Bradford, including:
Images copyright: Cwl ND symbol drawings courtesy of the Trustees of the Commonweal Collection. March songs Cwl DAC, march photograph Cwl HBP. Rights unknown. Article copyright: University of Bradford, shared under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-SA). [Note that portions of this text have been adapted from existing blog posts and exhibition captions created by Special Collections.]
The first gramophone records went on sale in England 120 years ago and five years later, in 1902, the first ever gramophone record by an English robed choir of gentlemen and boys was issued. Since then many thousands of recordings of our choirs have been produced and they represent a unique and priceless recorded legacy of these choirs, which are woven into the very fabric of our cultural and musical heritage.
For a country which takes such care of all aspects of its heritage, this is one area which has been woefully neglected and even the National Sound Archives contains only a small selection.
Having spent a lifetime associated with church music and choirs, I decided to start researching and collecting recordings. As this had never been undertaken there were no discographies to consult and in many instances the choirs themselves had only scant information on what they had recorded over the years.
After fifteen years of collecting and research the Archive of Recorded Church Music is acknowledged to be the definitive collection of recordings worldwide and acquisitions are constantly being added as more and more treasures are discovered.
THE RAISON D’ETRE OF THE ARCHIVE
The Archive seeks to preserve this cultural heritage for future generations from the very first gramophone record in 1902 to the latest new releases. The recordings in the Archive are ‘from choirs of gentlemen and boys singing in the English Cathedral tradition’ both Anglican and Roman Catholic, from Cathedrals, Abbeys and Minsters, Parish churches, Royal Peculiars (such as the Chapel Royal) Oxbridge chapel choirs, School chapel choirs and independent choirs.
This uniquely English tradition became the blue print for Anglican & RC choirs abroad, mainly in Canada, the USA, New Zealand and Australia and the Archive contains a representative selection of recordings from these ‘English’ foreign choirs.
THE RECORDINGS IN THE ARCHIVE
Every category of recording is represented in the Archive, whether it be a commercial issue from a major record company or a smaller independent company; or an in-house recordings issued by the choir themselves for limited sale in their surrounding area; or a private recording of which only that one copy exists. Each category contains recordings on 78rpm records, reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes, mini-discs, vinyl records and CDs.
Commercial issues: From 1902 to the present day, every commercial issue is listed in the Archive’s Discography with over 95% being in the collection; the remaining 10% are still to be tracked down. Many small independent labels over the years have specialized in choir recordings and these form a substantial part of the collection.
Of the numerous smaller independent companies specializing in choir recordings, Abbey/Alpha was one of the most famous, owned by Harry Mudd, OBE. Listen to one of his vinyl records from the choir of All Saints, Margaret Street in London, a choir of legendary status in the history of church music: https://youtu.be/UBgki4dGicc?list=PLEv7ZfArXoUm9-1GkoVpHpMbVlzNbt5Om.
In-house recordings: These were commissioned by the choir themselves and usually on sale only in the local area, so therefore more difficult to discover. The Archive contains thousands of these recordings on every format and many of these choirs are now long gone, their legacy being their recording.
As these recordings were commissioned by the choirs themselves they give an excellent representation of the different types of choirs and of choirs which would not have otherwise recorded.
Private recordings: Some of the rarest gems in the Archive are one-off copies of private recordings which were usually made by the choirmaster himself or an enthusiastic amateur. Some choirs are represented with a large archive of these recordings but for many it’s the only recording of that choir in existence and many of the private recordings are of choirs which no longer exist.
One of the choirs for which we have a large collection of private recordings is Magdalen College Oxford, under the legendary Bernard Rose. This particular recording is of Stanford’s Magnificat in C and Rose recalls Sir Walter Alcock, a friend of the composer, telling him of Stanford’s puzzlement at the speed at which most choirmasters took the Magnificat. In Rose’s and Alcock’s view, this is the speed Stanford wishes it to be sung: https://youtu.be/MHgjuhp74w8.
RADIO & TV BROADCASTS
A major part of the Archive consists of Radio and TV broadcasts which represent an important part of this choral heritage. The broadcasts consist of services, concerts, recitals and documentaries on choirs and church music and are in particular danger of being lost for ever, as tapes were regularly wiped by the broadcasting company to save space.
This is especially true of BBC Choral Evensong broadcasts as the BBC has no broadcasts from before 1990. Over the years the Archive has gathered up almost 2000 Evensong broadcasts which provide a fascinating snapshot of the choir under the Director of Music at that moment in history. We regularly upload archive radio broadcasts and BBC Choral Evensong broadcasts to our Youtube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/c/archiveofrecordedchurchmusic.
LIBRARY AND PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE
This complimentary collection has developed over the years with many thousands of photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, books; in fact, anything relating to choirs, choir schools and choristers and often provides invaluable background information to the recordings.
Visitors are always welcome to come and browse the archive and should you have any recordings of interest, please do get in touch and help the preserve this unique and priceless recorded heritage: www.recordedchurchmusic.org.
Colin Brownlee Archive of Recorded Church Music
All images copyright the Archive of Recorded Church Music and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.
Explore descriptions relating to Preston on the Archives Hub.
Our large collection of business records relating to the Horrockses cotton firm was first deposited at Lancashire Archives in 1969, and has proved popular with researchers throughout the last half century. A recent funding award offered the opportunity to spend some time working on the earliest records in the collection, primarily those which date before 1887 when an amalgamation led to the formation of Horrockses Crewdson and Co.
John Horrocks was born in Edgworth, near Bolton, in 1768. His family operated a quarry in the area which was where Horrocks would first begin spinning cotton, selling the finished yarn in Preston. One of the earliest items within the Horrockses archive is a map showing the land owned by the family at Bradshaw, which clearly identifies a stone mill owned by John Horrocks Senior alongside a cotton mill owned by John Horrocks Junior. John Horrocks eventually moved his business to Preston, opening his first factory in 1791. As the business flourished additional factories would be built on the site, which collectively became known as the Yard Works.
The company grew throughout the 19th century, and probably the most interesting material from this period relates to international trade. Horrockses Miller and Co had a number of agents throughout the world, in countries as diverse as Portugal, Mexico, India and China, and made arrangements not only to sell their cotton in these markets, but also to ship other goods for sale. This trade included the purchase of opium in India to be sold in China, where they would then purchase tea and silk to be brought back to the UK. Much of the correspondence also dates from a time of international conflict, and there are references to the Opium Wars, rebellions in India and Portugal and the Mexican-American war.
The company was also involved in conflict much closer to home. The longest industrial dispute in Preston’s history took place between October 1853 and May 1854, and became known as the Preston Lock Out. During the 1840s cotton workers throughout Lancashire had suffered a 10-20% cut in their wages and they began to strike in efforts to have it reinstated. In retaliation the cotton masters locked the workers out of the mills denying them a living. As well as direct action, public opinion seems to have been central to the dispute, and the archive includes a collection of bill posters written from the viewpoint of both the striking workers and their employers.
Yet despite events such as these there was also much to be celebrated during this period, including the Preston Guild, an event dating back to the medieval period but which still takes place every twenty years. Horrockses Miller and Co would take the opportunity to publicise their goods, providing floats which would appear in the trade procession and building decorative Guild arches from cotton bales.
Heritage always seems to have been important to the company, which perhaps explains why we are fortunate to have such an extensive collection of surviving records. Advertising would celebrate the longevity of the firm both in terms of the date that they were established and the quality of the goods being produced. As the business moved into the 20th century they sought new sources of income, most notably with the launch of Horrockses Fashions in the late 1940s. It is this part of the business which is perhaps the most widely known, as the company began using their own cottons to produce off the peg dresses which would prove to be extremely fashionable. Designs would be sought from artists and designers including Pat Albeck, Graham Sutherland and Alastair Morton, and the Queen would famously wear Horrockses dresses on her first Commonwealth Tour.
We are currently fundraising to finish cataloguing the later records within the collection, which should help us to learn more about this important and famous period in the history of the company. To find out more or make a donation, please visit http://www.flarchives.co.uk/catalogue-horrockses.html.
Lancashire County Council
There are several versions of the traditional folk melody The Twelve Days of Christmas. This feature is based on the 1909 publication by English composer Frederic Austin.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…
Twelve drummers drumming
‘The Little Drummer Boy’ greetings card, c. 1968-1999. An illustration of the well-known carol, the card is part of a collection of publications, prints and original artwork by the illustrators, twins Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. The Johnston Memorial Collection, 1951-1999, is held by Seven Stories, the Centre for Children’s Books. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1840-jaj/jaj/02/04/10
Sarwar Sabri Collection, 1985-2005. Sarwar Sabri (Sarvar Sabri) is an internationally renowned tabla player and composer. As a composer he has provided music for TV, radio and various dance theatre companies. The collection is held by Special Collections, Brunel University Library. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1975-ss
Eleven pipers piping
Dagenham Girl Pipers, 1937-2000. Founded in 1930 by Reverend Joseph Waddington Graves, they were the first female pipe band in the world. The Dagenham Girl Pipers toured the world, and in 1937 appeared in Berlin before Adolf Hitler, who told Mr Graves he wished Germany had a similar band. The Dagenham Girl Pipers Veterans’ Association was formed in 1998. The collection includes letters, newspaper cuttings, scrapbooks and photographs and is held by Barking and Dagenham Archive and Local Studies Centre. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb350-bd7
Papers of John and Myfanwy Piper, 1882-1990s. John Piper (1903-1992) was a major figure in modern British art. He was a painter in oils and water colour, designed stained glass, ceramics and for the stage, made prints and devised ingenious firework displays. In addition to this he was also a gifted photographer of buildings and landscapes. Piper also wrote poetry, art criticism and several guidebooks on landscape and architecture. the collection is held by the Tate Gallery Archive. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb70-tga200410
Ten lords a-leaping
Petitions from Nottinghamshire to Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector, c.1658. The principal items in the collection are two original petitions to Oliver Cromwell from inhabitants of Nottinghamshire, dating from c. 1658. The first petition requests tougher control on profanity, libertinism and heresies, revision of the laws of the nation, and asks that during Cromwell’s lifetime provision for future government is secured. The second petition requests regulation of the ancient laws regarding the Sacrament of the Last Supper and has 15 signatories. The collection is held by the University of Nottingham. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb159-ms215
Captain Stanley Lord, Master of the SS Californian, career papers, Titanic articles and other papers, 1891-1997. The collection contains documents dated between 1891 and 1997 and mainly concerns the campaign to clear Captain Stanley Lord (1877-1962) of the accusations levelled against him with regard to the sinking of the Titanic. It contains Captain Lord’s career papers, and some contemporary items from 1912. Held by National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives and Library. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb136-d/lo
Lord David Owen, 1962-2006. David Owen was born in 1938 in Plymouth. He studied medicine at Cambridge University and became a Senior Neurology and Psychiatric Registrar but upon becoming Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy in 1968, resigned his hospital work in favour of politics. He later served as Foreign Secretary until the defeat of the Labour Party in the 1979 General Election and in 1982 became Deputy Leader of the new Social Democrat party. The collection comprises personal papers, papers relating to the Labour Party, SDP papers, papers collected from work with independent organisations and Lord Owen’s Office. Held by Liverpool University, Special Collections and Archives. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb141-d709
Nine ladies dancing
Papers of Diana Gould, 1926-1996. Diana Rosamund Constance Grace Irene Gould was a British ballerina. Early in her career Sergei Diaghilev spotted her and invited her to join his Ballets Russes but he died before this could be arranged, events said to have been
fictionalized in the film ‘The Red Shoes’. Diana married Sir Yehudi Menuhin in 1947. the collection is held by the Rambert Dance Company Archives. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2228-dpdg
Dorothy Madden Collection, 1912-2002. Dr Dorothy Gifford Madden, former Professor Emerita of the University of Maryland, United States of America who was responsible for bringing American modern dance practice to the United Kingdom. Held by Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (Laban Archive). http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d23
Collection of material relating to Anna Pavlova, 1875-1965. Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was the most celebrated ballerina of her generation. The collection includes accessories originally worn by Pavlova in performance, scrapbooks containing many assorted press and illustrated magazine cuttings featuring Pavlova and sepia prints of Pavlova at a young age. Collection held by The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge Museum. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3208-rbs/pav
Eight maids a-milking
M. Russell-Fergusson papers, 1914-1990. M. Russell-Fergusson, Women’s National Land Service Corps, served as a milk maid in Norfolk from Aug. 1917 and later in Leicestershire and at the Royal Dairy Farm, Windsor. Held by Leeds University Library. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb206-liddlecollectiondf112
Programme for The Foresters, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, 1892. Forms part of The Ellen Terry Collection, materials relating to the Lyceum Theatre series. Actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928) made her stage debut in 1856 as Mamillius in The Winter’s Tale. In 1878 was invited to join Henry Irving’s company at the Lyceum Theatre as its leading lady. Ellen Terry and Henry Irving were soon regarded as the leading Shakespearean actors in Great Britain and they achieved huge success in both Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare plays. In 1888 she gained excellent reviews for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. The Lyceum Company toured extensively in both the UK and America to capacity audiences. Held by the V and A Department of Theatre and Performance.
Programme description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/384/thm/384/44/3
Collection description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/384
Express Dairies, 1904-1974. The Express Country Milk Supply Company was established in London in 1864 by George Barham. It became the Express Dairy Company Limited in 1892. Milk was transported into London by rail, and delivered to homes. The Dairy Supply Company was formed as a separate company selling dairy equipment such as the milk churn which was invented by Barham. The company grew, purchasing College Farm, Finchley, London to conduct dairy experiments. The farm was sold in 1983. The firm also ran Express teashops, cafes and bakery and became a limited company in 1937. In 1969 Express became part of Grand Metropolitan and in 1992 part of Northern Foods. In 1998 the name of Express Dairies Plc returned, with the division of Northern Foods into two sections. Collection held by the University of Reading, Museum of English Rural Life. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb7-trexp
Seven swans a-swimming
Harold Thomas Swan Papers, 1945-1996. Papers on the history of the clinical use of penicillin, 1945-1996, with particular reference to its early use in Sheffield, and to the reputation of Sir Alexander Fleming. Assembled by Dr Harold T. SwanMD, FRCP, FRCPath, Honorary Lecturer in Medical History, University of Sheffield, and formerly Consultant in Haematology, United Sheffield Hospitals. Held by the University of Sheffield Library. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb200-ms185
Archives of Swan Sonnenschein and Co, 1878-1916. William Swan Sonnenschein (1855-1934) was apprenticed to the firm of Williams and Norgate where he gained experience of second hand bookselling before founding his own company, W. Swan Sonnenschein and Allen, with the first of several partners, J. Archibald Allen, in 1878. This partnership was dissolved in 1882 when William married and the firm’s name changed to W Swan Sonnenschein and Co. The firm published general literature and periodicals but specialised in sociology and politics. Sonnenschein was involved with the Ethical Society and published their literature. In 1895 Swan Sonnenschein became a limited liability company and in 1902 William Swan Sonnenschein left to work at George Routledge and Sons and later at Kegan Paul. Swan Sonnenschein was amalgamated with George Allen and Co in 1911. The collection is held by Reading University: Special Collections Services. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb6-rulmss3280,3282,4058
Six geese a-laying
Cuttings about Mother Goose pantomime, 1951. These records form part of the Unity Theatre, theatre company collection held by V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Unity Theatre was founded in 1936 by a general meeting of the Rebel Players and Red Radio, left-wing theatre groups derived from the Workers’ Theatre Movement. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/9/thm/9/4/5/77
Gwynydd Gosling collection, 1990. Gwynydd Gosling is a private collector of Russian books and objets d’art. The collection comprises photographs of two tankard lids commemorating the Arrow Boat Club four-oared race, St Petersburg, 1870 (R. Butts, E. Gibson, W. E. Hubbard, A. W. Raitt, B. Wilding). Held by Leeds University Library. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb206-ms1095
Goslings and Sharpe: private bankers, Fleet Street (London): branch records including customer ledgers, 1717-1972. One of the oldest City banks, the partnership originated c1650 with Henry Pinckney, a goldsmith banker trading from the sign of the three squirrels in Fleet Street, London. The firm was led subsequently by the Chambers family. In 1794 Benjamin Sharpe became a partner and from that date the customary name of the business was Goslings and Sharpe, the Sharpes remaining as junior partners with no right to nominate their successors. In 1742 Sir Francis Gosling joined the firm and thereafter the Goslings name predominated in the partnership. The Goslings’ original trade was that of stationers. Although most accounts are for individuals or family trusts, there are also non-personal accounts such as those of charities (including some schools and hospitals), public subscriptions (including relief of soldiers and of victims of natural disasters), colleges, businesses, and a few public corporations and parishes. Collection held by Barclays Group Archives (BGA). http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2044-cfleetstreet19(goslings)
Five gold rings
The Golden Ring: a new and original fairy spectacular opera. by G[eorge] R. Sims with music by Frederic Clay. Stated as performed at “Alhambra Theatre, William Holland, Manager, 1883”. Part of the The George R. Sims Collection, 1858-1976. George Robert Sims (1847-1922) was an author, playwright, journalist and philanthropist. Collection held by The University of Manchester, The John Rylands University Library.
Volume description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb133-grs/grs/2/11
Collection description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb133-grs
National Union of Gold, Silver and Allied Trades, 1921-1985. The National Union of Gold, Silver and Allied Trades was formed in 1914 by the amalgamation of the Amalgamated Society of Gold, Silver and Kindred Trades and the Birmingham Silversmiths and Electroplate Operatives’ Society. In 1969 it absorbed the Society of Goldsmiths, Jewellers and Kindred Trades. In 1981 it became part of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section). Held by Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb152-mss.101/st
The rings may in fact refer to ringed-necked pheasants:
Pictorial tapestry rug featuring a pheasant, 1888.
Tapestry rug of worsted yarn and jute in acid colours featuring a pheasant in a floral landscape. Part of the Stoddard-Templeton Carpet and Textile Collection (c. 1840s-1960s). James Templeton and Co. was established in 1843, making Chenille, Axminster, Wilton and Brussels carpets. It employed artists of international calibre such as Charles Voysey, Walter Crane and Frank Brangwyn, with their carpets used in Coronations and in liners such as the Titanic. The collection is held by The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections Centre. https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/data/gb1694-dc077/dc077/2
Four calling birds
This could be song birds, such as Canaries, or may be ‘colly’ or black birds:
Descriptions of the Canary Islands and of the Azores, c. 1610.
The manuscript consists of two works, bound together. The first is a description of the Canary Islands, detailing the history, religion and laws of the natives, called the Guanches, as well as observations on the geography and fauna of the islands. The second work is a compilation from other works describing the Azores.The existence of the Canary Islands, a chain of seven islands off the northwest coast of Africa, was known to the Romans and later the Arabs, and European navigators reached the islands in the 13th century. The Azores, an archipelago in the Mid-Atlantic, were discovered in 1427 by the Portuguese and their colonisation by them began in 1432. The collection is held by The University of Manchester, The John Rylands University Library. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb133-engms17
Production contracts for ‘Study from ‘Blackbird”, 2002. Part of the Rambert Dance Company Archive: Productions collection (1920s – 2010s), the folder includes choreographer contracts, production budget and correspondence concerning casting travel and rehearsals. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2228-rdc/pd/rdc/pd/06/01/0423
Three French hens
Michael French Collection, 1887-2006. Photographs and documents inherited and collected by Michael French relating to the French family of millers and their mills. Collection held by the Mills Archive Trust. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3132-fren
Richard Hughes, Ty Hen Isaf Manuscripts, 1693 – 1910. Richard Hughes of Ty Hen Isaf, Llannerch-y-medd, Anglesey was born in 1837 and died in 1930. As a young boy, he worked on Dyffryn Gwyn farm for the Rev. John Prytherch, who was one of the largest farmers in Anglesey. He also served as husbandman for two spinsters, who unexpectedly left him all their property. This enabled Richard Hughes to satisfy his two ambitions, to travel and to own a library. Then began a series of visits to Palestine and the Mediterranean. He became a great collector of rare and precious books and a friendship sprang between him and Thomas Shankland, the Welsh librarian of the University College of North Wales. Held by Bangor University. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb222-bmssrh
Two turtle doves
Ms transcript of song, ‘The Turtle Dove’. 2 leaves belonging to a series of ms and ts transcripts of songs and ballads (1925 to 1965) by the poet and author Robert Graves (1895-1985). The papers are held at St John’s College, Oxford.
Item description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb473-rg/m/rg/m/ballads/4
Collection description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb473-rg
Records for the Dove Brothers Ltd, builders, 1850-1970.
Dove Brothers Ltd was a prominent construction company based in Islington from 1781 to 1993 which worked with most of the major architects of the late 19th to 20th century. The company was founded by William Spencer Dove (1793-1869). His sons formed the Dove Brothers partnership in 1852. The collection is held by Islington Local History Centre. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1032-s/dov
Reader’s Digest presents Christmas Stories for the entire family, Dove Audio, 1995. Featuring Paul Scofield reading ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. This forms part of the Paul Schofield Collection, 1807 – 2010. Paul Scofield (1922-2008) started his stage career in the 1940s and his name soon became synonymous with Classical theatre. Later in his career Scofield worked closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company for a number of years as well as The National Theatre, his roles were numerous and diverse. Beyond the theatre Scofield won acclaim through a number of films including ‘A Man For All Seasons'(1966) and ‘Expresso Bongo'(1958), as well as copious amounts of audiobooks and plays for BBC radio. Collection held by: V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.
Item description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/397/thm/397/5/2/27
Collection description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/397
And a partridge in a pear tree!
David Cassidy Collection, 1972-1976. The Amercian singer David Cassidy was best known for the musical sitcom The Partridge Family. The collection, created by fan Kay Chesterman, consists of cuttings, publications and memorabilia relating to David Cassidy and members of his fan club. Held by the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/378
Bernard Partridge Drawings Collection, 1861-1905. Bernard Partridge (1861-1945) was a painter and illustrator who became the principal cartoonist of Punch magazine. This collection includes drawings of actor-manager Henry Irving (1838-1905) in some of his most famous roles, including Shylock, Hamlet, Mephistopheles, Dubosc and Lear. Collection held by the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/227
Artworks by James Joshua Guthrie and relating to the Pear Tree Press, 1897-1930s. Designs and illustrations, along with other book illustration work and bookplates for the Pear Tree Press. Forms part of the British Library: Western Manuscripts‘ collection The Gordon Bottomley Papers, 1773, 1831-1958. Consisting of correspondence, diaries, literary materials, artwork, photographs, and printed ephemera by, relating to, or collected by poet and playwright Gordon Bottomley (1874-1948).
Folder description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb58-addms88957/addms88957/4/4
Collection description: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb58-addms88957
The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (ACPO) was formed in 1948, and disbanded in 2015. From 1964 it formed part of the tripartite system of governance over the police service. ACPO was the representative body for senior police officers until 1996, and contributed to the development of legislation, policing policy, training and procedure. The papers of this influential organisation were deposited at Hull History Centre in spring 2015, and the full catalogue will be released in January 2017. Amongst the collections’ diverse records are numerous items relating to the Association’s role in establishing the National Reporting Centre.
On the 4th of April 1972 a meeting was held at the Home Office to discuss the establishment of ‘a National Co-ordinating Centre for police resources’ [U DPO/8/1/1]. This was realised in the establishment of the National Reporting Centre (NRC). Section 14 of the Police Act of 1964 already allowed for the provision of constables from one force to another as additional resources. Based at New Scotland Yard, the NRC would serve as the coordinating body for enabling ‘nationally co-ordinated mutual aid’ [U DPO/8/1/1]. The centre would be led by ACPO, and any decision to activate it would be taken in consultation with the Home Office.
The first activation of the NRC came on the 10th of February 1974 in response to industrial action by the National Union of Miners (NUM). It remained open for less than a month. In 1980 it was active once again, co-ordinating the movement of prisoners during industrial action within the Prison Service [U DPO/8/1/1]. In March 1981 a one day exercise to test the Centre’s capabilities took place. An ACPO report found that it ‘predictably revealed the inability of the Centre to provide cohesive national coordination in a time of crisis’ [U DPO/8/1/42]. The report suggested that ‘Public disorder appears, unfortunately, to be a growth industry, and it is vital that the NRC should quickly become a practical reality’ [U DPO/8/1/42]. In the same year as the NRC exercise and subsequent report, Britain experienced social unrest in a series of riots in urban locations. Again the NRC was deployed, coordinating responses to chief officers’ requests for assistance in policing operations [U DPO/8/1/36a]. A further activation of the Centre in June 1982 coordinated forces for a visit to Britain by Pope John Paul II.
However, the NRC’s most well-known and controversial activation came in 1984, in response once again to industrial action by the NUM. Following the implementation of recommendations made in previous reports, increased training of mobile Police Support Units (PSUs), and new guidance on public order provided to senior officers, the NRC contributed to a highly mobile, national response to the strikes. The records in the ACPO collection include intelligence reports monitoring the picket lines and movement of potential flying pickets travelling between locations. These record not only the number and location of pickets, but the ‘mood’ as defined by the reporting officers, using a defined range of peaceful, hostile or violent [U DPO/8/1/42].
During this period of activation the centre was run by David Hall, then Chief Constable of Humberside as part of his duties as the serving President of ACPO. Shortly after the strikes ended The Times reported that the NRC had coordinated ‘more than one million movements of officers from almost all forces’ [4 March 1985 p.2]. The Centre’s aggregation of information and ability to coordinate cooperation between forces resulted in a highly responsive and mobile operation. Improved guidance issued by ACPO to Chief Officers in the form of a Tactical Options Manual combined with access to greater information via the NRC enabled individual chief officers to make decisions more tactically. The Centre continued operation until the strikes were called off on the 3rd of March 1985.
Although ACPO’s review of the operation concluded that the NRC’s role ‘was performed efficiently and demonstrated the essential requirement of the centre’ [U DPO/8/1/37], the Centre faced criticism within the press. This often related to the question of accountability. The Guardian reported that Hall, was ‘answerable to no-one… non-elected, non-accountable’ holding ‘more power than all the combined members of all the elected police authorities’ [7 September 1984 p.17]. Another article suggested there was ‘direct political control of policing operations’ via the NRC [The Guardian, 21 September 1984 p.2]. While calling for an inquiry into the policing of the strikes, former Home Secretary Merlyn Rees demanded control of the Centre be passed to the Home Office, [The Guardian, 16 May 1985 p.2].
In contrast, internal ACPO reports created in 1985 asserted that ‘the NRC needs no special lines of accountability. It is merely the agency through which requests for aid are made and responses coordinated… In all cases the accountability lies with individual chief constables’ [U DPO/8/1/36a]. In response to perceived ‘ignorance’ of both the public and the media to the Centre’s role, it was observed that ‘it is essential to remind people that the NRC is in reality a small group of officers working in a few offices and New Scotland Yard… and ultimately is accountable to the Home Office’ [U DPO/8/1/37].
The 1977 Ridley Report on nationalised industries directly referenced earlier NUM strike action, asserting a need for ‘a large, mobile squad of police… equipped and prepared to uphold the law against the likes of the Saltley Coke-works mob’ [http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/110795]. The NRC arguably enabled the police to fulfil this recommendation, demonstrated by the controversial police response to the 1984-5 NUM strikes. While operation of the NRC was viewed internally as a success, the overall policing of the strikes remains controversial today. Although a small number of the NRC records within the ACPO papers are currently closed in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998), the majority are open to public access. This will enable scrutiny of the data gathered and the flow of information, enabling researchers to make their own, informed decisions about the Centre’s role in this still contentious moment in recent British history.
Hull History Centre
Browse collections relating to libretti on the Archives Hub.
Browse collections relating to opera on the Archives Hub.
The D’Oyly Carte Archive is one of the jewels in the crown of the V&A Theatre and Performance collections, and is one of the most significant archives in the world relating to the operas of librettist W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) and their production and management by composer, theatrical agent, impresario and hotelier Richard D’Oyly Carte (1844-1901). Their partnership resulted in some of the most memorable comic operas ever produced, and ranks as one of the most prolific and successful theatrical collaborations of all time.
Given to the V&A by Dame Bridget D’Oyly Carte (1908-1985), the grand-daughter of Richard D’Oyly Carte, we acquired the archive in several tranches. Our curator of popular entertainment spent many long days at the Savoy Hotel (home both to Dame Bridget and the materials), listing and boxing them up prior to the first acquisition. The archive covers the span of the working relationship between the three. Boasting materials spanning over a hundred years it is one of the most eclectic in our collections, with materials covering all aspects of the workings of the company and including some items you might not reasonably expect to find in your average theatre company archive: Crimean battlefield relics and a box once containing a marzipan pirate’s hat immediately spring to mind!
The collection also includes prompt scripts, correspondence, photographs, original costume and set designs and promotional artwork, legal documents, business books, cuttings albums, music sheets and related ephemera and objects concerning D’Oyly Carte’s production of operas by Gilbert and Sullivan and other composers and librettists, and his general business affairs.
Born in London, Richard D’Oyly Carte was a musician who started his career working in his father’s music publishing and instrument manufacturing business, and had his own operatic and concert agency by 1874. It was as the manager of the Royalty Theatre in 1875 though that D’Oyly Carte began his association with Gilbert and Sullivan, commissioning Trial by Jury from them for the theatre, having seen their first work Thespis, or the Gods Grown Old at the Gaiety Theatre in 1871.
In 1876 D’Oyly Carte formed the Comedy Opera Company in order to produce more work by Gilbert and Sullivan. The Sorcerer, their first full opera in collaboration, opened in 1877 at the Opera Comique, leased by D’Oyly Carte for the production. Following this came H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) which was such a success that it prompted the three to form a new partnership, eventually known as the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. The success of the production and their desire to combat unauthorised productions of their work in the USA brought about the Company’s first American tour. Their following two works; The Pirates of Penzance (which premiered in Paignton, New York in 1879 prior to its London opening in 1880) and Patience (1881) were the final operas staged at the Opera Comique.
In 1881 D’Oyly Carte built the Savoy Theatre which opened with a transfer of Patience from the Opera Comique. Subsequent Gilbert and Sullivan operas premiered at the Savoy; Iolanthe (1882), Princess Ida (1884), The Mikado (1885 – the profits of which funded the building of the Savoy Hotel), Ruddigore (1887), The Yeomen of the Guard (1888), The Gondoliers (1889), Utopia, Limited (1889) and The Grand Duke (1889). The duo’s operas became known as the Savoy Operas.
The partnership disbanded in 1890 following a legal dispute between Gilbert and D’Oyly Carte over the payment of maintenance costs for the Savoy Theatre. Sullivan sided with D’Oyly Carte, who went on to produce Sullivan and Julian Sturgis’s opera Ivanhoe (1891) as the inaugural production for his newly built Royal English Opera House. Gilbert and Sullivan were reconciled in 1893 and wrote Utopia, Ltd, and their final collaborative work was The Grand Duke (1896).
Without D’Oyly Carte’s diplomacy, tact, business acumen and financial skill it is doubtful whether the collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan could have started again after Thespis, or lasted so long. Without the brilliance of the operas, D’Oyly Carte would not have been able to build the Savoy Theatre in 1881 to stage their hugely successful works, or the Savoy Hotel he built on the adjacent site in 1888, or the Royal English Opera House, now the Palace Theatre that he opened in 1891. The collaboration of the three men resulted in worldwide success, the foundation of a British style of comic opera, and a remarkable archive that is catalogued online and can be consulted by appointment at the archives of the V&A’s Department of Theatre & Performance.
Veronica Castro Assistant Curator, V&A Theatre and Performance Collections The Victoria and Albert Museum
Browse descriptions on the Archives Hub relating to ENSA.
Erik Chisholm was born on 4 January 1904 in Glasgow. A precocious talent, at the age of fourteen Chisholm undertook early study of pianoforte, rudiments of music and harmony and counterpoint (composition) under Thomas Nisbet and Philip Halstead at the Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). A prize winner, Chisholm consistently performed at the top of his class despite being one of the youngest students of his year.
In 1928 he was accepted to study music at the University of Edinburgh under his friend and mentor Sir Donald Francis Tovey, gaining a BMus in 1931 and a DMus in 1934.
A lifelong vegetarian, pacifist and humanitarian, Chisholm’s music was bold and original. He was the first composer to incorporate the Scottish idiom, and particularly Gaelic aspects, into his music. His first piano concerto, an orchestral work in four movements completed whilst he was still a student, incorporates many of the evolutions and figures associated with highland bagpipe music (ceòl mòr), which has led to it becoming known as the Piobaireachd Concerto. In addition many of his solo piano works including Highland Sketches (EC/12/1/9), Scottish Airs (EC/12/1/12) and the Straloch Suite (EC/12/1/15) demonstrate a similar inspiration.
In an interview with the Cape Times newspaper in 1964 Chisholm attributed his first acquaintance with highland pibroch music as the chief turning point in his compositional career (EC/8/9).
Whilst still a student, Chisholm (alongside fellow composers Francis George Scott and Pat Shannon) founded the Active Society for the Propagation of Contemporary Music, an association which transformed the classical music world in Glasgow throughout the 1930s. The Active Society brought internationally renowned composers such as Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith and Kaikhosru Sorabji to Glasgow to conduct and perform their own works, including many UK and world premieres. One of the many jewels of the Chisholm Collection is a score autographed by Hindemith thanking Chisholm for a ‘beautiful performance in Glasgow’ dated November 1930 (EC/12/4/3).
Not long after graduation from Edinburgh University with a doctorate in music, Chisholm was drafted into ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association, where he continued to champion the cause of new music worldwide. In 1945 he was sent to India to form a full-sized symphony orchestra in Bombay (now Mumbai), presaging the formation of the Symphony Orchestra of India, still the country’s only professional orchestra, nearly sixty years later.
Whilst in India, Chisholm was introduced to Indian classical music, which left an indelible mark on him creatively. He often connected Indian ragas with Celtic music, and his Night Song of the Bards draws inspiration from both cultures, using the tuning for Rág Sohani (which is performed at night) to accent the Celtic rhythms of the allegro tempestuoso of the Second Bard. Similarly his second piano concerto, known as the Hindustani Concerto, demonstrates Chisholm’s mastery of the Indian vernacular form (EC/7/22).
After limited successes in India, Chisholm (as ENSA Musical Director for the South East Asia Command) was sent to Singapore (EC/8/4) where he founded the Singapore Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of Lord Mountbatten (EC/1/8). Singapore’s first professional full-size orchestra, the SSO was reformed in 1979 and continues to this day.
As a performer Chisholm gave the Scottish premieres of Bartók’s first and Rachmaninov’s third piano concertos, and was highly lauded for his technique. The Chisholm Collection includes a collection of references from eminent musicians and composers (EC/4/12), including William Walton, Arnold Bax and William Gillies Whittaker, amongst others, praising Chisholm for his “modernistic outlook” and “scholarly foundations” (Walton, EC/4/12/7).
In 1946, after completing his work for ENSA, Chisholm was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cape Town and Director of the South African College of Music, and it is perhaps in this role that he is best remembered.
Chisholm revived the South African College of Music where he eventually would teach composer Stefans Grové and soprano Désirée Talbot. Using Edinburgh University as his model, Chisholm appointed new staff, extended the number of courses and introduced new degrees and diplomas. In order to encourage budding South African musicians he founded the South African National Music Press in 1948. With the assistance of the Italian baritone Gregorio Fiasconaro, Chisholm also established the college’s opera company in 1951 and opera school in 1954. In addition, Chisholm founded the South African section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) in 1948, assisted in the founding of the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre on 1 December 1950, and pursued an international conducting career (cf. EC/7).
Chisholm did not support the prevailing apartheid policy of the South African government, and frequently found himself in opposition to authority. In protest against the cutting down of trees at the University of Cape Town campus, Chisholm refused to provide music for the upcoming graduation ceremony (EC/8/21). Dr. John Purser, Chisholm’s biographer, takes up the story:
The pressure on him to carry out his proper functions, was, however, enormous, and understandably so, and ‘appeals from tearful graduates urged him to change his mind.’ He finally appeared to capitulate, but no sooner had the students processed into the hall to the appropriate strains of Gaudeamus Igitur than the programme changed to ‘McDowell’s In Deep Woods and To an Old White Pine, sylvan arias by Handel, and concluded with March of the Tree Planters’. There were more than enough people aware of the controversy and the music to appreciate that their unrepentant professor had balanced the score. (Purser, Erik Chisholm, Scottish Modernist 1904-1965: Chasing a Restless Muse, p. 173; EC/4/11).
One of the largest series in the Erik Chisholm archive is the collection of his correspondence, and in particular his exchange of letters over more than thirty years with the infamous and controversial composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. Born Leon Dudley Sorabji in 1892, like Chisholm Sorabji was a pianist / composer of precocious talent. Unlike Chisholm, however, he was largely self-taught, and his music polarised listeners and critics alike. Perhaps his most renowned work is his Opus Clavicembalisticum for solo piano, which (depending on tempo) can take around four hours to perform. At the time of its premiere under the auspices of Chisholm’s Active Society (on 1 December 1930) it was the longest piano composition in existence.
Sorabji’s correspondence with Chisholm (Chisholm’s letters to Sorabji are part of the Sorabji archive held at Warlow Farm House, Hereford – http://www.sorabji-archive.co.uk/) is extensive, containing over one-hundred and fifty letters. The relationship between composers appears to have been extremely complex, and intensely personal. In a letter dated 8th August 1930, Sorabji wrote the first of several poems dedicated and addressed to Chisholm:
Life, blood faith and deepest truth
Beloved Friend – all such as they be
Are yours with all the eager gladness
In the giving that is the only easing of my heart
Thus selfishly I give for that my own joy therein lies!
For less than asking all I have is yours
But oh my Brother ask not
That I go from you nor cease
From loving – for that is not
Death alone but Hell
And tortures of Inferno’s damned –
Ask not that! ….(EC/2/42)
As their correspondence develops, Sorabji’s largely unrequited feelings for Chisholm become more explicit. In a long letter written over several days, concluding 8th October 1930, Sorabji writes:
My dearest one what is come over me? But lately I could not get down on paper quick enough all I had to say to you and here these last few weeks … aching and longing to pour out heart and soul to you I struggle and fight with the words that cannot come to utterance. It is Beloved friend – that my affection for you is now grown so great that words cannot compass it about, and I am tongue tied and shy of utterances almost … pen tied … Forgive me for you know the “heart is sorely charged”. Oh my God! to see and touch you and look at you at this moment! (EC/2/47)
It is clear from the way in which Sorabji carefully expresses his feelings that they are not fully reciprocated by Chisholm, who was heterosexual. That said, the freeness with which Sorabji writes is extremely unusual for this period, when homosexuality was a crime punishable by incarceration and hard labour. Touchingly, the correspondence collection (which is, as yet, unpublished) also includes a lock of Sorabji’s hair sent to Chisholm at some time in the 1930s when their correspondence was most frequent (EC/2/159). They continued to write to each other until Chisholm died in 1965.
The Sorabji correspondence was mostly transcribed by Phyllis Brodie, Chisholm’s sister-in-law and Secretary of the South African Music College, and the transcripts are preserved alongside the originals in the collection (EC/2/1-181).
The Chisholm collection also includes material relating to Margaret Morris, wife of the Scottish Colourist J. D. Ferguson and founder of the Celtic Ballet, an early forerunner of Scottish Ballet. Chisholm’s ballets The Forsaken Mermaid (EC/12/2/1/1), The Earth Shapers (EC/12/2) and The Hoodie Craw (EC/12/2/3/2) were all choreographed by Morris and premiered by her Celtic Ballet company in the 1930s and 1940s.
Perhaps one of the most unsung gems of the collection, however, is the full score, sketches and parts of Chisholm’s unperformed opera The Importance of Being Earnest, one of his last works completed in 1963 (EC/12/3/3), two years before he died. Chisholm’s last letter to his daughter Morag dated 12th May 1965 is perhaps prescient of this:
Herewith what’s (or was) wrong with me! I’m in the office 9.30 – 1, go to bed for a couple of hours – then afternoon 3 – 5 again at the College, go to a flick or work in the evening at home at a desk – but no conducting till Sept! (EC/1/7/35)
Chisholm died less than a month later.
The Erik Chisholm Collection was acquired by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Archives & Collections from his daughter, Dr. Morag Chisholm, in January 2016. Chasing a Restless Muse: An Exhibition of Papers and Ephemera from the Erik Chisholm Collection will run from 1 September to 31 December 2016 in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and the complete collection catalogue can be found at http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2607-ec/1-12.
Stuart A. Harris-Logan Archives Officer Royal Conservatoire of Scotland