Papers of the Association of Chief Police Officers – the National Reporting Centre

Archives Hub feature for November 2016

U DPO/1/2/19a – artist's impression of a medal for past presidents, 1978.

U DPO/1/2/19a – artist’s impression of a medal for past presidents, 1978.

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.

Discussion paper from U DPO/8/1/1 regarding the role of the NRC, 1981

Discussion paper from U DPO/8/1/1 regarding the role of the NRC, 1981

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.

Image showing room layout, 1981

Appendix D from U DPO/8/1/42, interim report on the NRC showing room layout, 1981

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].

Intelligence report from U DPO/8/1/23a from the Nottinghamshire picket lines, 4 April 1984

Intelligence report from U DPO/8/1/23a from the Nottinghamshire picket lines, 4 April 1984

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].

Extract from U DPO/8/1/36a, report to the ACPO Council on the policing of the NUM dispute, 1985

Extract from U DPO/8/1/36a, report to the ACPO Council on the policing of the NUM dispute, 1985

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.

U DPO/10/503b – extract from file on use of police firearms, 1974-1976

U DPO/10/503b – extract from file on use of police firearms, 1974-1976

Alexandra Healey
Project Archivist
Hull History Centre

Related:

Browse the Hull History Centre Collections on the Archives Hub.

Previous Hub feature – Liberty, Parity and Justice at the Hull History Centre.

All images copyright ACPO and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

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Archives Wales Catalogues Online: Working with the Archives Hub

Stacy Capner reflects on her first six months as Project Officer for the Archives Wales Catalogues Online project, a collaboration between the Archives and Records Council Wales and the Archives Hub to increase the discoverability of Welsh archives.

For a few years now there has been a strategic goal to get Wales’ archive collections more prominently ‘out there’ using the Archives Wales website. Collection level descriptions have been made available previously through the ‘Archives Network Wales’ project, but the aim now is to create a single portal to search and access multi-level descriptions from across services. The Archives Hub has an established, standards based way of doing this, so instead of re-inventing the wheel, Archives and Records Council Wales (ARCW) saw an opportunity to work with them to achieve these aims.

The work to take data from Welsh Archives into the Archives Hub started some time ago, but it became clear that getting exports from different systems and working with different cataloguing practices required more dedicated 1-2-1 liaison. I am the project officer on a defined project which began in April to provide dedicated support to archive services across Wales and to establish requirements for uploading their catalogue data to the Archives Hub (and subsequently to Archives Wales).

This project is supported by the Welsh Government through its Museums Archives and Libraries Division, with a grant to Swansea University, a member of ARCW and a long-standing contributor to the Hub. I’m on secondment from the University to the project, which means I’ve found myself back in my northern neck of the woods working alongside the Archives Hub team. This project has come at a time when the Archives Hub have been putting a lot of thought into their processes for uploading data straight from systems, which means that the requirements for Welsh services have started to define an approach which could be applied to archive services across Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

Here are my reflections on the project so far:

  1. Wales has fantastic collections, holding internationally significant material. They deserve to be promoted, accessible and searchable to as wide an audience as possible. Some examples-

National Library of Wales, The Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell & Tretower (inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, 2016) https://www.llgc.org.uk/blog/?p=11715

Swansea University, South Wales Coalfield Collection http://www.swansea.ac.uk/library/archive-and-research-collections/richard-burton-archives/ourcollections/southwalescoalfieldcollection/

West Glamorgan, Neath Abbey Ironworks collection (inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World register, 2014) http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/treasured-neath-port-talbot-history-recognised/story-26073633-detail/story.html

Bangor University, Penrhyn Estate papers (including material relating to the sugar plantations in Jamaica) https://www.bangor.ac.uk/archives/sugar_slate.php.en#project

Photograph of Ammanford colliers and workmen standing in front of anthracite truck, c 1900.

Photograph of Ammanford colliers and workmen standing in front of anthracite truck, c 1900. From the South Wales Coalfield Collection. Source: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University (Ref: SWCC/PHO/COL/11)

  1. Don’t be scared of EAD ! I was. My knowledge of EAD (Encoded Archival Description) hadn’t been refreshed in 10 years, since Jane Stevenson got us to create brownie recipes using EAD tags on the archives course. So, whilst I started the task with confidence in cataloguing and cataloguing systems, my first month or so was spent learning about the Archives Hub EAD requirements. For contributors, one of the benefits of the Archives Hub is that they’ve created guidance, tools and processes so that archivists don’t have to become experts at creating or understanding EAD (though it is useful and interesting, if you get the chance!).
  1. The Archives Hub team are great! Their contributor numbers are growing (over 300 now) and their new website and editor are only going to make it easier for archive services to contribute and for researchers to search. What has struck me is that the team are all hot on data, standards and consistency, but it’s combined with a willingness to find solutions/processes which won’t put too much extra pressure on archive services wishing to contribute. It’s a balance that seems to work well and will be crucial for this project.
  1. The information gathering stage was interesting. And tiring. I visited every ARCW member archive service in Wales to introduce them to the project, find out what cataloguing systems they were using, and to review existing electronic catalogues. Most services in Wales are using Calm, though other systems currently being used include internally created databases, AtoM, Archivists Toolkit and Modes. It was really helpful to see how fields were being used, how services had adapted systems to suit them, and how all of this fitted in to Archives Hub requirements for interoperability.

    Photo of icecream

    Perks of working visits to beautiful parts of Wales.

  1. The support stage is set to be more interesting. And probably more tiring! The next 6 months will be spent providing practical support to services to help enable their catalogues to meet Archives Hub requirements. I’ll be able to address most of the smaller, service specific, tasks on site visits. The Hub team and I have identified a number of trickier ‘issues’ which we’ll hash out with further meetings and feedback from services. I can foresee further blog posts on these so briefly they are:
  • Multilingualism- most services catalogue Welsh items/collections in Welsh, English items/collections in English and multi-language item/collections bilingually. However, the method of doing this across services (and within services) isn’t consistent. We’re going to look at what can be done to ensure that descriptions in multiple languages are both human and machine readable.
  • Ref no/Alt ref- due to legacy issues with non-hierarchical catalogues, or just services personal preference, there are variations in the use of these fields. Some services use the ref no as the reference, others use the alt ref no as the reference. This isn’t a problem (as long as it’s consistent). Some services use ref no as the reference but not at series level, others use the alt ref no as the reference but not at series level. This will prove a little trickier for the Archives Hub to handle but hopefully workarounds for individual services will be found.
  • Extent fields missing- this is a mandatory field at collection level for the Archives Hub. It’s important to give researchers an idea of the size of the collection/series (it’s also an ISAD(G) required field). However, many services have hundreds of collection level descriptions which are missing extent. It’s not something I’ll practically be able to address on my support visits so the possibility of further work/funding will be looked into.
  • Indexing- this is understandably very important to the Archives Hub (they explain why here). For several archive services in Wales it seems to have been a step too far in the cataloguing process, mainly due to a lack of resource/time/training. Most have used imported terms from an old database or nothing at all. Although this will not prevent services from contributing catalogues to the Archives Hub, it does open up opportunities to think about partnership projects which might address this in the future (including looking at Welsh language index terms).

The project has made me think about how I’ve catalogued in the past. It’s made me much more aware that catalogues shouldn’t just be an inward-facing, local or an intellectual control based task; we should be constantly aware of making our descriptions more discoverable to researchers. And it’s shown me the importance of standards and consistency in achieving this (I feel like I’ve referenced consistency a lot in this one blog post; consistency is important!).  I hope that the project is also prompting Welsh archive services to reflect on the accessibility of their own cataloguing- something which might not have been looked at in many years.

There’s a lot of work to be done, both in this foundation work and further funding/projects which might come of the back of it. But hopefully in the next few years you’ll be discovering much more of Wales’ archive collections online.

Stacy Capner
Project Officer
Archives Wales Catalogues Online

Related:

Archives Hub EAD Editor – http://archiveshub.ac.uk/eadeditor/

Archives Hub contributors – list and map

 

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The D’Oyly Carte Archive

Archives Hub feature for October 2016

Original painted promotional panels by H.M. Brock, featuring characters from The Yeomen of the Guard, The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and Iolanthe.

Original painted promotional panels by H.M. Brock, featuring characters from The Yeomen of the Guard, The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and Iolanthe. Ink on card, ca. 1913-1914. Archive reference: THM/73/29/3/2

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.

Signed note written in Gilbert's hand concerning the formation of the Gilbert & Sullivan partnership with D'Oyly Carte at the Opera Comique, signed by all three.

Signed note written in Gilbert’s hand concerning the formation of the Gilbert & Sullivan partnership with D’Oyly Carte at the Opera Comique, signed by all three. Ink on paper, ca.1880. Archive reference: THM/73/2/1

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!

Souvenir box and artwork designed by Peter Goffin (1906-1974).

Souvenir box and artwork designed by Peter Goffin (1906-1974). The box was one of many, each containing a marzipan pirate’s hat, presented at a party to mark general manager Frederic Lloyd’s (1918-1995) 27th birthday. Ink and pencil on card, 1963. Archive references; Artwork: THM/73/29/3/5 /; Box: THM/73/34

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.

Pages from an Iolanthe prompt book, marked with text corrections and movement diagrams by stage manager J. M. Gordon (1856-1944).

Pages from an Iolanthe prompt book, marked with text corrections and movement diagrams by stage manager J. M. Gordon (1856-1944). Ink on paper, ca. 1922-1939. Archive reference: THM/73/18/22

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.

Costume designs for Utopia, Limited, by Percy Anderson (1851-1928).

Costume designs for Utopia, Limited, by Percy Anderson (1851-1928). Watercolour, gouache and pencil on paper with fabric swatches, 1893. Archive reference: THM/73/21/12

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.

Costume sketch for Rose Maybud in Ruddigore by W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911).

Costume sketch for Rose Maybud in Ruddigore by W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911). Ink and pencil on paper with fabric swatch, 1886. Archive reference: THM/73/20/9

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

Related:

Explore the D’Oyly Carte Archive (ca.1850s-1980s) collection on the Archives Hub.

Browse all V&A Theatre and Performance collections on the Archives Hub.

All images copyright The Victoria and Albert Museum and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

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Making your digital collections easier to discover – Jisc workshops in November

Jisc is offering two one-day workshops to help you increase the reach of your digital collections, optimise them for discovery and evaluate their impact.

‘Exploiting digital collections in learning, teaching and research’ will be held on Tuesday 15 November.

‘Making google work for your digital collections’ will be held on Tuesday 22 November.

If your organisation has digital collections, or plans to develop them, our workshops will help you maximize the reach of those collections online, demonstrate the impact of their usage, and help you build for future sustainability. They will equip you with the knowledge and skills to:

• Increase the visibility of your digital collections for use in learning, teaching and research
• Encourage collaboration between curators and users of digital collections
• Strategically promote your digital collections in appropriate contexts, for a range of audiences
• Optimise your collection for discovery via Google and other search tools
• Use web analytics to track and monitor access and usage of your digital collections
• Evaluate impact and realise the benefits of investment in your digital collection

Who should attend?

Anyone working in education and research, who manages, supports and/or promotes digital collections for teaching, learning and research. Those working in similar roles in libraries, archives and museums would also benefit.

Both workshops will be held at Jisc office, Brettenham House, London and will offer a mix of discussion, practical activities and post-workshop resources to support online resource discovery activities.

For more information and to book your place please visit http://www.jisc.ac.uk/advice/training/making-your-digital-collections-easier-to-discover.

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Scotland’s Forgotten Composer: The Archive of Erik Chisholm

Archives Hub feature for September 2016

Eric Chisholm in his study

Eric Chisholm in his study in South Africa (EC/3/1/2).

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).

Score autographed by Hindemith, 1930

Score autographed by Hindemith, 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).

Chisholm greets Bartok in Glasgow.

Chisholm greets Bartok in Glasgow (EC/8/24).

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)

Poem by Sorabji, August 1930.

The first of several poems dedicated and addressed to Chisholm by Sorabji, August 1930 (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.

A lock of Sorabji’s hair sent to Chisholm.

A lock of Sorabji’s hair sent to Chisholm at some time in the 1930s (EC/2/159).

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

Related:

Browse the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Collections on the Archives Hub.

All images copyright the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

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The Archive of Thomas Manning, the First Englishman to Lhasa, Tibet

Archives Hub feature for August 2016

Portrait of Thomas Manning

Portrait of Thomas Manning : Oil-on-canvas , c.1805 (RAS Head Catalogue 01.006)

In December 1811, Thomas Manning entered Lhasa, Tibet, with his Chinese servant.  On the 17th, December, Manning was allowed into the presence of the 9th Dalai Lama – the six-year-old Lungtok Gyatso. Manning drew sketches of the child and wrote:

“[He] had the simple and unaffected manners of a well-educated princely child. His face was, I thought, poetically affecting and beautiful. He was of a gay and cheerful disposition… I was extremely affected… I could have wept with the strangeness of sensation.”

No other Englishman would enter Lhasa until the Younghusband expedition to Tibet at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many might think that Manning’s visit would mark a pinnacle in his career, but for Thomas Manning reaching Lhasa, and not being able to proceed further, was a source of great disappointment. Manning’s passion was China and the sole reason he travelled to Lhasa was in an attempt to reach Peking and other parts of inland China.

When Manning first became interested in China is uncertain. Indeed much about Manning, until this point, has been little known. His trip to Lhasa was published posthumously in 1876 in Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa, edited by Clements R. Markham. It was also known that Manning was an influential friend of the essayist, Charles Lamb. Their letters are in the public domain, held in archives in the USA.

In 2014, a cache of Manning’s papers were discovered which were acquired, in 2015, by the Royal Asiatic Society with funding from The National Heritage Memorial Fund, Arts Council England / Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, Friends of National Libraries, and private donations. The papers, which include correspondence with his family and friends, notebooks, an early manuscript account of the journey to Lhasa, and official passports and documents, are now catalogued on the Archives Hub.

Thomas Manning was born in 1772, the second son of William Manning, rector of Diss. He was educated locally in Norfolk and went to Cambridge in 1790 to study mathematics at Gonville and Caius College. He was an astute mathematician but did not graduate because he wouldn’t subscribe to Church of England doctrines, necessary for matriculation at that time. However, he stayed on in Cambridge preparing students for mathematical examinations and writing textbooks. For Manning mathematics was a lifelong passion: some of the workings within the mathematical archives date from the years shortly before he died.

Letter from Thomas Manning’s father, Rev William Manning, 1803

Letter from Thomas Manning’s father, Rev William Manning, expressing his concern regarding Manning’s proposed travel to China, [24 August 1803] (TM/1/1/27)

Cambridge life also encouraged another passion – writing poetry and riddles. Amongst the many drafts of poems and  riddles contained in the archives are a series of epigrams about the state of the toilets at Caius College– as you might guess, they are not complimentary!

At Cambridge, Manning also developed his obsession to learn about China and the Chinese. Manning hoped to discover: “a moral view of China; its manners; the actual degree of happiness the people enjoy; their sentiments and opinions, so far as they influence life; their literature; their history…”

At this time, in England, interest in China was negligible. He therefore travelled to France to learn more, departing from Dover in January 1802. The archive contains the George III passport for his passage. Manning’s correspondence includes details of meeting Thomas Paine and Maria Cosway; of being inspired by Napoleon; of a hushed-up assassination attempt; and of learning from Joseph Hagar, “the Conservator of the Oriental manuscripts…The Dr and I shall probably become intimate, as I am learning the Chinese tongue, & so curious a language is a greater bond of union among men than even Free-masonry”.

Manning’s stay became extended by the outbreak of conflict between England and France. However Manning was well treated, being able to continue his studies in Paris or reside with the de Serrant family at their chateau in the Loire.

After consistent appeals to Napoleon, explaining his desire to travel to China, Manning was allowed to return to England. He then studied for 6 months at Westminster Hospital, gaining medical knowledge he hoped to be of benefit during his travels. He considered journeying overland to China via Russia but decided instead to apply, via Sir Joseph Banks, to the East India Company to sail on one of their vessels to Canton.

The Company agreed. Manning sailed from Portsmouth, aboard the Thames, in May 1806, reaching Canton in January 1807. Here he lived in the Company factory, set about learning the Chinese language, and undertook medical and translation work.

Account of the riot in Canton, 1807

Account of the riot in Canton involving the sailors of the Neptune, 24 February 1807 (TM/1/1/40)

Manning’s letters have details of life in Canton including a riot that led to the death of a Chinese man and precipitated the diplomatic incident over the crew of the Neptune. Manning appears to have observed the events first-hand. He wrote an eyewitness account, as well as comments on the ensuing trial: “…The court is opened in a very striking manner – 1st Solemn & lofty words by a herald – then a lengthened resounding cry of hou… then a sonorous & aweful clangor of Gongs … Each man asked to say that he is guilty… Each man refuses… To hear those ragamuffins speak they were all as gentle as Lambs that day…”

He desperately wanted to get beyond Canton. In late 1807 Manning offered his services as a physician and astronomer to the Emperor, but wasn’t accepted .Then in early 1808 Manning tried to enter China through Vietnam. This project failed also.  Despite these frustrations he continued to make progress with Chinese: “I have discovered the nature of the tones. I can speak. I can read. I am sure of being able to pursue the study of Chinese books in Europe.”

In 1810 Manning decided on a new plan – to attempt to enter China via Tibet. He travelled to Bengal and arrived in Calcutta in early 1810. He wrote to his father of dealings with European “missionaries in Calcutta who claim to know something of the Chinese language but they have it wrong… their translations of Confucius are a map of mistakes”. There are eight letters from Joshua Marshman, Serampore missionary, in the archive thanking Manning for his help with Chinese translation. In Bengal Manning waited for permission to travel to China via Bhutan and Tibet. Permission came for the first stage of the journey, and Manning kept going until he reached Lhasa.

Letter from Joshua Marshman to Thomas Manning, 1810

Letter from Joshua Marshman to Thomas Manning concerning his intention to reach China overland, 28 August 1810 (TM/5/19/4)

But that was the end of his trip. From Lhasa he was sent back, unsuccessful in his bid to discover more about inland China. He returned to Canton to continue studying until another opportunity arose to see more of China with the mission of the Amherst Embassy, which departed for Peking in 1816.

Manning was enrolled with the Embassy as an interpreter. Amherst objected to Manning’s beard and Chinese dress but George Staunton intervened to secure him a place. The presence of Manning, Staunton and Robert Morrison as the interpreters gives us a cameo of those interested in Chinese at that time – Staunton the East India man/diplomat, Morrison the missionary and Manning the independent scholar.

The Embassy ended in failure due to perceived slights to the Emperor by Amherst. The Embassy remained in Peking for just a few hours.  Possibly this was the final straw for Manning – he chose to return to England with the Embassy – a passage that involved shipwreck, and a stopover at St Helena to speak with the exiled Napoleon. The archive contains notes from Manning’s conversations with Napoleon and Hudson Lowe, Governor of St. Helena.

Back in England, Manning was still interested in China and Chinese. He had brought with him two Chinese men which he hoped the East India Company would employ to help prepare Company men for service in China. But Manning found they were not interested in employing or in helping defray the costs of bringing the men to England.

Manning continued his Chinese studies and revived old friendships with the likes of Lamb and George Leman Tuthill, an eminent physician. He became honorary Chinese librarian to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1824, and was active in helping Stanislas Julien, the French sinologist, find Chinese material. He was still keen to learn new things and lived in Italy between 1827 and 1829 to improve his spoken Italian. He settled near Dartford, Kent, where he had the finest Chinese library in Europe. This library was bequeathed to the Royal Asiatic Society and is now part of the Brotherton Library’s Chinese Collection (Leeds University), having been donated by the Society in 1963.

Sketches of the 9th Dalai Lama

Sketches of the 9th Dalai Lama made by Thomas Manning (TM/9/3)

Manning did not publish his Chinese discoveries and therefore has often been overlooked amongst those studying early Sinology and Orientalism. The Royal Asiatic Society hope that the acquisition and cataloguing of this archive, might aid towards a greater understanding of these topics, and of the life of Thomas Manning: not only the first Englishman to reach Lhasa, but also, possibly, the first independent English scholar of China and the Chinese, a gifted mathematician, a lover of riddles and a loyal friend.

Nancy Charley
Archivist
Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

Related:

Papers of Thomas Manning, Chinese Scholar, First English visitor to Lhasa, Tibet on the Archives Hub: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb891-tm

Browse the Royal Asiatic Society Collections on the Archives Hub

All images copyright the Royal Asiatic Society and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

 

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Archives Portal Europe builds firm foundations

On 8th June 2016 I attended the first Country Manager’s meeting of the newly formed Foundation of the Archives Portal Europe (APEF) at the National Archives of the Netherlands (Nationaal Archief).

The Foundation has been formed on the basis of partnerships between European countries. The current Foundation partners are: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Norway and Slovenia. All of these countries are members of the ‘Assembly of Associates’. Negotiations are proceeding with Bulgaria, Greece, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and the UK. Some countries are not yet in a position to become members, mainly due to financial and administrative issues, but the prospects currently look very positive, with a great willingness to take the Portal forwards and continue the valuable networking that has been built up over the past decade. Contributing to the Portal does not incur financial contribution; the Assembly of Associates is separate from this, and the idea is that countries (National Archives or bodies with an educational/research remit) sign up to the principles of APE and the APE Foundation – to collaborate and share experiences and ideas, and to make European archives as accessible as possible.

The Governing Board of the Foundation is working with potential partners to reach agreements on a combination of financial and in-kind contributions. It’s also working on long term strategy documents. It has established working groups for Standards and PR & Communications and it has set up cooperation with the Dutch DTR project (Digitale Taken Rijksarchieven / Digital Processes in State Archives) and with Europeana. The cooperation with the DTR project has been a major boost, as both projects are working towards similar goals, and therefore work effort can be shared, particularly development work.

Current tasks for the APEF:

  • Building an API to open up the functionality of the Archives Portal Europe to third parties and to implement the possibility for the content providers to switch this option on or off in the Archives Portal Europe’s back-end.
  • Improving the uploading and processing of EAC-CPF records in the Archives Portal Europe and improving the way in which records creators’ information can be searched and found via the Archives Portal Europe’s front-end and via the API.
  • Enabling the uploading/processing of “additional finding aids (indexes)” in the Archives Portal Europe and making this additional information available via the Archives Portal Europe’s front-end and the API.

The above in addition to the continuing work of getting more data into the Portal, supporting the country managers in working with repositories, and promoting the portal to researchers interested in using European-wide search and discovery tool.

APEF will be a full partner in the Europeana DSI2 project, connecting the online collections of Europe’s cultural heritage institutions, which will start after the summer and will run for 16 months. Within this project APEF will focus on helping Europeana to develop the aggregation structure and provide quality data from the archives community to Europeana. A focus on quality will help to get archival data into Europeana in a way that works for all parties. There seems to be a focus from Europeana on the ‘treasures’ from the archives, and on images that ‘sell’ the archives more effectively. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this, it seems important to continue to work to expose archives through as many channels as we can, and for us in the UK, the advantages of contributing to the Archives Hub and thence seamlessly to APE and to Europeana, albeit selectively, are clear.

A substantial part of the meeting was dedicated to updates from countries, which gave us all a chance to find out what others are doing, from the building of a national archives portal in Slovakia to progress with OAI-PMH harvesting from various systems, such as ScopeArchiv, used in Switzerland and other countries. Many countries are also concerned with translations of various documents, such as the Content Provider Agreement, which is not something the UK has had to consider (although a Welsh translation would be a possibility).

We had a session looking at some of the more operational and functional tasks that need to be thought about in any complex system such as the APE system. We then had a general Q&A session. It was acknowledged that creating EAD from scratch is a barrier to contributing for many repositories. For the UK this is not really an issue, because we contribute Archives Hub descriptions. But of course it is an issue for the Hub: to find ways to help our contributors provide descriptions, especially if they are using a proprietary system. Our EAD Editor accounts for a large percentage of our data, and that creates the EAD without the requirement of understanding more than a few formatting tags.

The Archives Hub aims to set up harvesting of our contributors’ descriptions over the next year, thus ensuring that any descriptions contributed to us will automatically be uploaded to the Archives Portal Europe. (We currently have to upload on a per-contributor basis, which is not very efficient with over 300 contributors). We will soon be turning our attention to the selective digital content that can be provided by APE to Europeana. That will require an agreement from each institution in terms of the Europeana open data licence. As the Hub operates on the principles of open data, to encourage maximum exposure of our descriptions and promote UK archives, that should not be a problem.

With thanks to Wim van Dongen, APEF country manager coordinator / technical coordinator, who provided the minutes of the Country Managers’ meeting, which are partially reproduced here.

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London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Archives: The Shakespeare Hut

Archives Hub feature for July 2016

Photograph of Shakespeare Hut aerial view

Shakespeare Hut aerial view (YMCA archive image, courtesy of the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham).

A forgotten building that opened 100 years ago and which was a safe haven for nearly 100,000 First World War soldiers, is to be remembered at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine this summer.

Digital Drama, a UK-based media production company, was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)  grant for the project Resurrecting the Shakespeare Hut, in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and The Mustard Club.

Photograph of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine under construction, c.1927.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine under construction, c.1927.

The project commemorates the lives of the servicemen who used, and the women who worked at, the Shakespeare Hut, which was erected on the grounds of what is now the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Keppel Street site in Bloomsbury, in August 1916.

During the First World War the YMCA (http://www.ymca.org.uk/) erected over 4,000 huts to provide soldiers with food and a place to rest, either on the frontline or at home in military camps and railway stations. For the duration of the War, 35,000 unpaid volunteers and 26,000 paid YMCA staff ran the huts, serving 4.8 million troops in 1,500 canteens.

YMCA Huts were a regular sight in England, France and on all the fighting fronts during the First World War, providing a ‘home from home’ for soldiers to rest, recover and be entertained. However, the Keppel Street hut was built with a special purpose – to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and to entertain the troops through the playwright’s work.

In the year of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and with the ongoing commemoration of the First World War Centenary, this is a relevant time to resurrect the Shakespeare Hut. The project will introduce the public to the Hut’s history, lift the lid on what life was like for those who used the building, and relive stories of those who fought and lived through the First World War, as well as preserving its heritage for future generations.

On 8 July an installation will open at the School, providing visitors with a chance to go back in time by stepping into a replica room – the design is taken from a photograph taken inside the original building. Images showing the Hut in action will also be on display as well as audio and visual exhibits recounting local residents’ family memories of the First World War.

 Architects' drawing of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine North Courtyard, 1924.

Architects’ drawing of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine North Courtyard, 1924.

At the same time, the School’s Archives Service are mounting an exhibition called The Changing Face of Keppel Street, which uses material from the archive collections to explore the history of the Keppel Street area and the development of the School’s iconic art-deco style building.

Engaging with the community and bringing people together is an essential element of the project. ‘Digital Drama’ will work with volunteers to capture local stories, and 90 students from local schools will receive valuable research and media experience by developing blogs, animations and web pages. After the installation closes, photographs and recordings will be displayed and then kept at the London borough of Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.

Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “In the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare, this is an ideal moment to celebrate how Britain’s most famous playwright inspired troops during the First World War. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Resurrecting the Shakespeare Hut project will record and exhibit the hidden heritage of the forgotten YMCA building and share the stories of servicemen and women during the Great War.”

Photograph showing London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine exterior, c.1951.

Photograph showing London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine exterior, c.1951.

The Installation and The Changing Face of Keppel Street exhibition  runs from 8 July to 18 September. It will be open to the public from 9am to 5pm weekdays and for the Open House weekend – 17 and 18 September.

The School’s archives include documents, photographs, maps, publications and objects relating to tropical and infectious diseases and public health issues. The Archives also hold material on the history and development of the School since its foundation in 1899. Our collections date from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and have a global coverage.

Photograph of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Library reading room in 1929.

Photograph of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Library reading room in 1929.

For more information:

Claire Frankland
Assistant Archivist
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Related:

Browse the LSHTM Collections on the Archives Hub

NB. the LSHTM images in this feature are from a collection not yet included on the Archives Hub but the collection description is planned to be added in the future.

All images copyright the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and YMCA Archive, reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

 

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Barclaycard: 50 years of plastic money – the story from the Archives

Archives Hub feature for June 2016

29th June 2016 sees the 50th anniversary of the official launch of Barclaycard, the first all-purpose credit card in Europe.

Origins and Idea

The idea of Barclaycard is credited to general manager Derek Wilde, later a vice-chairman of Barclays, and James Dale, who became Barclaycard’s first departmental manager. Their idea was backed by Barclays’ chairman John Thomson, who recognised the need to ‘beat the others to it’. The immediate inspiration came from a visit to the United States in 1965 by Wilde, Dale and computer expert Alan Duncan, specifically to look at Bank of America’s BankAmericard.

Photo of James “Dickie” Dale

James “Dickie” Dale

Barclays had, since the mid-1950s, begun to innovate and modernise in areas such as technology and advertising, for example ordering the first computer for branch accounting in 1959, and experimenting with cinema advertising. In 1967 Barclays would pioneer the world’s first external wall-mounted cash machines.

The card scheme was approved by the board without any market research or pilot, or adequate in-house computer system, and in the face of not inconsiderable internal and external suspicion, even hostility. It was recognised that profitability would be long-term, since the set-up costs were so high and credit controls strict.

Although the idea of a plastic card for making general purchases was novel in Britain, consumer credit had already secured a place in people’s lives. Working people had long bought essentials ‘on tick’ from their corner shop, and after World War Two the idea of hire purchase was developed into big business, becoming an integral part of the ‘affluent society’.

The most successful outlets in the early period, despite a very low profit margin, were petrol stations, whose proprietors envisaged improved security in reducing the use of cash, while Barclays saw advantage in roadside advertising.

Photo of early advertising at a garage

Early advertising at a garage

Launch

‘The Barclaycard is the largest operation the Bank has ever mounted’, declared Barclays’ staff magazine.

On 10th January 1966 the scheme was announced to the public. The press release shows that Barclays carefully eschewed advertising it as a source of unsecured borrowing. Instead, Barclaycard was described as,

‘a logical extension of the existing commercial bank facilities provided by the Barclays Group. Its purpose is to reduce the use of cash in shopping and other transactions and the scheme is designed to appeal not only to those who must travel and spend a good deal of money in restaurants, but also to the everyday shopper throughout the country. For retail and service establishments it will provide a means of reducing or eliminating the book-keeping now needed to maintain customers’ credit accounts.’

Indeed, Thomson saw Barclaycard as, ‘…more of a development of existing retail banking than an innovation…’ As with automated accounting and cash machines, Barclaycard held a promise for the bank of reducing its labour costs, which, with the advent of relatively full employment and strong trade unions, were rising steadily.

Photo of Barclaycard Centre, Northampton

Barclaycard Centre, Northampton

Barclays set itself the daunting task of recruiting 1 million cardholders and 30,000 outlets by the launch date. A derelict footwear factory in Northampton was converted as the operations centre, while £500,000 was spent on advertising and over 23 million forms were sent to prospective customers. Barclays adapted the computer programme used by BankAmericard. Distribution of the 1m cards involved extra Post Office and railway facilities.

Signing up merchant outlets was achieved by an organisational innovation. Dale recruited salesmen, largely selected from the Barclays staff on recommendation by inspection teams and branch managers, who were trained to call personally on prospective merchants. The idea of undertaking ‘selling’ was still anathema to the traditional British banker, but these recruits were often glad to break free of the confines of branch banking and enter the modern world of marketing. External training was also used by Barclays for the first time. In the words of one of the early salesmen,

‘It was all direct selling and it was cold selling in many ways.  It was in actual fact, just walking along the streets and just looking at shops and saying, yes, the average sale in that shop is a certain amount, that’s a good average sale.’

Acceptance – the triumph of plastic

Most of the 1.25m unsolicited cards sent to potential users in 1966 were accepted, but some were either returned, destroyed or not used: in 2015 Group Archives was pleased to receive the timely donation from a customer, of her late father’s unused card, surviving in pristine condition from 1966!

Barclaycard steadily secured a place in retail culture. Its first operating profit was recorded in 1972, by which time there were 1.7m cardholders and 52,000 merchants. As another salesman recalled of this period:

‘Well, I would just go and say, have you ever thought of taking Barclaycard?   It was such a strong product then that they either said yes or no.  And if they said yes, you’d sign them up and if no, you’d go into the next shop.  It was so easy to do then.’

The move towards a plastic credit society was cautious in the early years. When in November 1967 (following relaxation of the government’s credit squeeze), Barclaycard granted extended or revolving credit to holders, this was done on the understanding (with the Bank of England), that the card could not be used to acquire credit for more than 3 months, and that advertising would be suspended pro tem. This, it was recognised by Barclays at the time, was the only way that the card would ever make a profit. In effect card holders had a personal overdraft facility.

Confirmation that credit cards were here to stay came in 1972 with the launch of Barclaycard’s first major rival – Access – by Lloyds, NatWest and Midland.

Advertising

As in other areas, Barclaycard’s marketing was at the forefront of innovation for Barclays and British banking as a whole.

From the start, use was made of modern techniques, including direct mailings and colour magazine adverts. The initial recruitment of holders in 1966 was helped by a mass campaign, including the first direct mail shot by a British bank and a complete list of all the merchant outlets, believed to be one of the largest newspapers adverts ever published. High street campaigns were another radical departure for a Bank:

Image of Barclaycard 1972 promotions

Barclaycard 1972 promotions.

‘….we would go to a town and set this promotion up with all the retailers.  So we picked somewhere big like Brighton or Manchester or Liverpool and you always needed one or two big department stores as a sort of corner-stone, and we persuaded all these stores and shops to display Barclaycard material.’ Barclaycard ‘girls’, hired from an agency and dressed in a uniform to attract attention, would stop people on the street.

Image of Flyer for Travelling Light, 1968

Flyer for Travelling Light, 1968

In 1968 an award-winning cinema film, Travelling Light, featured a young shopper with a card tucked into her bikini:

‘ One of my jobs was to make sure that the Barclaycard always showed correctly and so on, so I had the job of positioning it in her briefs to make sure it was all positioned  correctly…. It had a very good message, because I think the message at the end was that all you need to go shopping is a Barclaycard.’

Later developments

Although space doesn’t permit an account of Barclaycard’s subsequent history here, it’s worth noting some of the landmarks, several of which have derived from advances in computer and mobile phone technology:

  • 1972: first television advert (first for Barclays, too)
  • 1973: 2 million card holders
  • 1977: Barclaycard a founder of the VISA network
  • 1977: Company Barclaycard
  • 1982: first in series of Alan Whicker TV adverts
  • 1985: 8 million card holders
  • 1986: PDQ machines, the first electronic card payment terminals in the UK, introduced to replace manual imprinters
  • 1988: Student Barclaycard
  • 1990: first in series of Rowan Atkinson TV adverts
  • 1990s: expansion into Europe
  • 1995: Barclaycard Netlink, the UK’s first bank-related commercial internet service, which soon enabled card holders to pay their bills online
  • 1997: introduction of microchips on cards to improve security
  • 2001: initial sponsorship of FA Premiership
  • 2002: 11 million cards
  • 2004: acquisition of Juniper, enabling Barclaycard to expand in USA
  • 2007: ‘contactless’ cards, first in the UK
  • 2012: PayTag, enabling customers to pay using their mobile phone by sticking a Barclaycard PayTag to the back of their handset
  • 2014: 30 million cards
Photo of Alan Whicker.

Alan Whicker was the face of Barclaycard in the 1980s.

Records and research

‘Plastic money’, a phrase detected in a Barclays report from as early as 1967, has attracted attention from academic researchers in recent years, Barclaycard being cited as an example of technical and financial innovation, marketing success and market leadership.

Most of the documentation of Barclaycard is to be found with the Bank’s main record series. By establishing contacts with the marketing teams, a good representative selection of advertising material has also been captured, and this has been supplemented by donations from former staff members.

Research by Archives staff has established a good framework for the factual history of Barclaycard. For the story of the early years, Group Archives is able to supplement the written record by means of oral history interviews, a few excerpts from which have been quoted above.

In just over a decade from conception in 1965, Barclays successfully embedded the credit card in the retail economy of Britain, an essential payment medium that is taken for granted today.

Nicholas Webb
Archivist
Barclays Group Archives

Related:

Browse the Barclays Group Archives Collections on the Archives Hub

Previous feature: Barclays Group Archives

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Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers Collection at the TUC Library (London Metropolitan University)

Archives Hub feature for May 2016

Photo of books

Books from the TUC Library’s collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers.

The Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers (FWWCP) was a network of community-based writing groups that stretched across the UK and, to a much lesser extent, Europe and the USA. Voluntary, community-run groups met to allow working class people to share and discuss their creative writing and facilitate community self-publication.  It was the most significant working class writing/publication project of the 20th century, distributing over a million books between 1976-2007. It thrived during a period of significant social, economic and political change in the UK especially through the 1970s and 1980s, and represented a significant counter-cultural movement.

Many of the groups emerged out of local politics and campaigning, some such as Hackney’s Centerprise were a model of community cohesion, providing a bookshop, publisher, crèche, cafe and legal advice. Others still exist such as Brighton’s QueenSpark, Books, the UK’s longest running community publisher that started out of a grassroots campaign to establish a nursery school instead of a casino.

Photo of books

Books from the TUC Library’s collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers.

Through the medium of poetry, prose, fiction, biography, autobiography and local history, they document the changing experience of working class people over the course of the second half of the twentieth century, and much like oral history, they contain testimony about cultural history and working lives. They also reveal an emerging identity politics focused on issues of local community, immigration, race/ethnicity, gender, mental health and sexuality, with groups setting up to discuss, publish and represent those identities.

Some of the groups were involved in the establishment of community bookshops, Bookplace, Newham Books, and Tower Hamlets Arts Project (known as THAP and Eastside Books). They were important in providing an outlet for FWWCP publications and frequently provided a meeting space for writers and adult literacy groups.

Photo of books


Books from the TUC Library’s collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers.

The TUC Library started its collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers in August 2014 with a major deposit from Nick Pollard, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University who had a long-running involvement in the Federation. This has been followed by a number of other smaller deposits over the last 18 months, from former writers, members and enthusiasts.

From London alone there are at least 11 groups represented, including: Black Ink, Peckham People’s History, Stepney Books, Basement Writers, Working Press, Tower Hamlets Arts Project, Hammersmith & Fulham Community, Newham Writers Workshop, London Voices, Age Exchange, Southwark Mind and Survivors. All published biographies, autobiographies, fiction, prose and poetry.

There are also audio recordings of meetings, performances and festivals, and some video footage of these events. The Collection contains publications from over 100 groups that were part of the Federation.

Photo of prose and poetry books

Groups were prolific in publishing prose and poetry.

Some of the FWWCP legacy still exists in the form of The FED, a much smaller network that follows many of the FWWCP principles but uses an online presence to keep members in touch. The FED includes writing workshops and groups across the country, mostly centered in London, and like its predecessor, continues to celebrate diversity. It is holding its annual writing festival on the 4th June 2016.

Photo of book collection

Although generally about working class experience, some groups were focused on gender, LGBT, BAME and mental health, and there is much testimony contained in this collection.

The TUC Library is working closely with the University in making the most of the FWWCP Collection, and we’ve provided inductions for students from social sciences and humanities generally, we’ve also provided workshops for those from creative writing students to theatre and performance students. Students from Syracuse University taking a Civic Writing course, helped create an index to the collection. The group taught by Jess Pauszek, through Syracuse’s London Campus, at Faraday House, spent three weeks in summer 2015 and will continue work in 2016.

Having carried out a series of consultative meetings with former members London Metropolitan University and the TUC Library will be applying for funds to carry out an oral history and digitisation project.

You can see an index of the collection that’s been sorted so far Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers

Jeff Howarth, TUC Librarian at London Metropolitan University

Related:

Browse the London Metropolitan University’s Trades Union Congress Library Collections on the Archives Hub.

All images copyright London Metropolitan University and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

 

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