Surveyors through the ages: a glimpse into the Lloyds Register archive

Archives Hub feature for January 2023

In March 2022 the Heritage and Education Centre (HEC) for Lloyds Register (LR) began an inventory of the archive holdings as large parts of the collections currently remain uncatalogued. Part of this work has highlighted the individual experiences of some of the surveyor’s working for LR over a period of nearly 200 years in the form of surveyor letter books, notebooks, and journals. Alongside the related survey reports, plans and correspondence which make up a core part of both the archive and the historic work of LR we can provide an insight into these unique individuals and their roles.

Some of the earliest surviving accounts of surveyors we hold come from two surveyors based in Scotland, Walter Paton (Leith and Firth of Forth ports) and John Bar Cumming (Clyde Ports). Their letter books and journals span the years 1834-1850, they generally contain information and notes from their time surveying vessels which accompanies the information which was to be captured on the ship survey reports and subsequently included in the Register Books. They also reflect the changes in shipping within a steadily growing global industrial world as well as showing the lives of individuals operating within shipping. On several occasions Walter Paton explains his dissatisfaction with the unwillingness of local ship owners and builders to pay the survey fees. In one letter John Bar Cummings puts forward a suggestion for a master of a ship to accept a job taking immigrants to Australia.

Page 163-164 of John Bar Cummings Letter book, 1838-1840.

The later survey report for David Clark shows that the person in question took this job.

Annual Surveys Report for David Clark 21st April 1841.

Both these surveyors reference meeting and contacting each other throughout their correspondence, demonstrating the networks of officials operating across the United Kingdom, and internationally, with a centralised contact with the London Office.

Surveyors were initially selected from positions as shipwrights and sea captains, not only was this practical experience with the understanding of ship construction and maintenance relevant for the tasks at hand but it also prepared the surveyors for the dangers of life at sea, this can be seen by Walter Paton assisting with a shipwreck of the coast of Leith. Reflecting a theme that runs through the history of LR, safety at sea. The surveyors often worked long hours and in the early days had limited holidays. As a letter book for John Bar Cummings shows, the work-life balance of some of the surveyors from this time was fraught with difficulty. Usually working the Christmas period, Cummings luckily had one holiday on Saturday 1st of January 1848 due to closed offices!

Page 22-23 of Walter Paton Letter book, 1834-1838.

The early ship survey reports often included additional information on the ship owners, ship builders, the vessel themselves or comments on events and activities at the port of survey. These often go hand in hand with the letter books and journals. The survey report for Hecla states that the vessel was thoroughly overhauled and fitted out as a whaling ship, for the now famous Northern expedition under Captain William Edward Parry, but that originally, she had been built as a bomb vessel for the Royal Navy.

Report of Survey for Hecla 31 January 1835 (page 1).
Report of Survey for Hecla 31 January 1835 (page 2).

Some of the later accounts of surveyors we hold provide less of a personal insight, but they do reveal how technology and industry were changing and the specialised knowledge that was required to undertake their roles. N H Burgess surveyor notebooks from the late 19th and early 20th century include various detailed diagrams and calculations and lists the safe number of staff that should be on any given ship at one time. Again, reflecting the continued theme of safety at sea within the work of the surveyors. Likewise, the Surveyor notebooks for S Archer from 1942 onwards contain various tables, diagrams, and calculations. Together they show the engineering, scientific and mathematical capabilities required for surveying in the first half of the 20th century. More information on these surveyors can be found listed on the ‘List of Surveyors’ (1) available on our website and found in the Lloyd’s Register of Ships.

Page from N H Burgess surveyor notebook 1901.

The surveyor journal for Bill Blacklock for 1962-1964, around South Shields, Liverpool and Middlesborough, reflects a great change in the global approaches towards energy and fuel. He was one of the surveyors to have worked on the HMS Dreadnaught, the UK’s first nuclear powered submarine.

Page 111 of Bill Ballock surveyor journal, 1962-1964.

The notebooks of surveyor John Mansfield covering the 1980s contain multiple volumes from his tenure at the then Machinery Design and Plan Approval Department. In addition to working for plan approval in London he was also positioned in Hamburg. They are typically representative of surveyors work from the time and detail the activities on the ground for the surveying staff. The notebooks include detailed diagrams, calculations and notes on engineering and shipbuilding, including extracts from letters and discussions for rules and regulations. In the case of the letter below, comments extended to the inspection of onboard CO2 fire extinguisher cannisters.

Page from John Mansfield surveyor notebook, 1980.

From surveying artic exploration vessels and shipwrecks, to inspecting nuclear powered vessels, these records offer unique insights into the working lives of the Lloyd’s Register Surveyor on sea and on land.

As noted above not all our collections are currently catalogued and searchable online, as our inventory and archival site mapping work progresses, HEC aims to make as much of this material freely and publicly accessible. HEC is currently closed for refurbishments, for further information on our archives, and access the ship plan and survey report, register books and list of surveyors please visit our online catalogue.

Zach Schieferstein, Archive Officer
Heritage & Education Centre
Lloyd’s Register Foundation

Related

(1) Lloyd’s Register List of Surveyors 1942-1947: Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Heritage & Education Centre: Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Browse the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Heritage and Education Centre descriptions to date on Archives Hub

All images copyright LRF heritage and education centre. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

A polymath’s archive: the Edward-Heron Allen Collection at West Sussex Record Office

Archives Hub feature for December 2022

The polymath Edward Heron-Allen (1861-1943) was a man of considerable talent and many interests. A solicitor by profession, his interests touched on a plethora of subjects: science, languages, literature and music. His pioneering treatise Violin-Making As It Was And Is, published in 1884, remains one of the key works on the instrument (the newest edition was published as recently as 2017). Heron-Allen’s study of Persian enabled him to publish a literal translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in 1898, and he lectured widely on the subject.

After moving to Selsey, a small fishing village on the Manhood peninsula in West Sussex, in 1911 (where he had built a house in 1904), Heron-Allen turned his attention to foraminifera (tiny, single-celled marine organisms) and published a large number of scientific papers, often in conjunction with the oceanographer Arthur Earland; as a result of this work, Heron-Allen was President of the Royal Microscopical Society from 1916-1917 and elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1919. Anxious to serve in World War I, Heron-Allen enlisted in Selsey’s Home Guard (where he lined his uniform with silk, for comfort), but his linguistic abilities eventually saw him work for the intelligence services, where he devised propaganda before serving on the front line in France, on special duty.

Copies of Heron-Allen’s science and science fiction books.
Copies of Heron-Allen’s The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1898 (EHA 1/4/1/9), Violin-Making As It Was And Is, 1884 (EHA 1/4/1/3), Codex Chirmontiae, 1883 (EHA 1/4/1/1) and A Manual of Cheirosophy, late 19th century (EHA 1/4/1/7).

Despite his grounding in the solid, traditional subjects of music, science, law and classical literature, Heron-Allen had a keen interest in the unseen and unknown world, and the occult. Under the pseudonym Christopher Blayre, Heron-Allen penned a number of early science fiction works, some of which are now regarded as classics, including The Cheetah Girl and The Purple Sapphire. This latter work was based on an amethyst which came into Heron-Allen’s own possession in 1890; supposedly cursed, Heron-Allen believed it wreaked havoc on his own life, to the extent that he eventually packed it in seven boxes and left it with his bankers, who were under strict instructions not to open it until 30 years after his death (it now forms part of the Natural History Museum’s collections). Years before he wrote his science fiction, Heron-Allen studied palmistry, publishing A Manual of Cheirosophy in 1885 and The Science of the Hand in 1886; such was his skill that he foretold the death of his younger daughter, Armorel, in a car crash in 1930, many years before the tragic event, merely by observing her hands.

Whilst Heron-Allen deposited many of his papers at institutions such as the Royal College of Music, the collection at West Sussex Record Office contains some of his more personal items, as well as copies of his many published works. Gathered for the most part by his grandson, Ivor Jones, the Edward Heron-Allen Collection (reference EHA) includes letters, visitor’s books, photographs, family material, and diaries, and it provides us with a clear sense of Heron-Allen’s personality.

The spines of three volumes of Heron-Allen’s bound travel journals.
The spines of three volumes of Heron-Allen’s bound travel journals (refs EHA 1/2/1/9-11).

The bulk of the collection is formed by Heron-Allen’s holiday journals, a meticulous, expansive set of 32 volumes, dating from 1885-1937, all written in Heron-Allen’s neat hand and featuring photographs and postcards alongside all manner of ephemera, from menus, wine cards, bills and receipts, train tickets and timetables, deck plans, and even laundry lists.

Pages from Volume XI of Heron-Allen’s travel journals, featuring Paris
Pages from Volume XI of Heron-Allen’s travel journals, featuring Paris, where Heron-Allen and his wife, Edith, spent their honeymoon in November 1903. Reference EHA 1/2/1/11.

Locations range from British destinations such as Harrogate and Penzance, to European countries including Belgium, France and Italy, and further afield to Constantinople (now Istanbul), Egypt and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Whilst some journals record holidays, others record scientific trips, such as the survey of Clare Island (Ireland), alongside Arthur Earland, in 1911, and the British Association’s meeting at Dundee in 1912.

Pages from Volume X of Heron-Allen’s travel journals, featuring Egypt
Pages from Volume X of Heron-Allen’s travel journals, featuring Egypt, which Heron-Allen visited in 1903. Heron-Allen can be seen in the photograph on the right of the page, on board the SS Tewfik. Reference EHA 1/2/1/10.
Part of a leaflet for a watchmaker and jewellers in Cairo, pasted into Volume X of Heron-Allen’s travel journals.
Part of a leaflet for a watchmaker and jewellers in Cairo, pasted into Volume X of Heron-Allen’s travel journals. Heron-Allen visited Egypt in 1903. Reference EHA 1/2/1/10.

All provide evidence of Heron-Allen’s personality, as well as a slice of social and local history, and can provide wonderful detail for researchers interested in a particular locality visited by Heron-Allen.

Photographs pasted into Volume IX of Heron-Allen’s travel journals, probably taken in Turkey.
Photographs pasted into Volume IX of Heron-Allen’s travel journals, probably taken in Turkey, which Heron-Allen visited in 1902. Reference EHA 1/2/1/9.

Local history was another of Heron-Allen’s keen interests, and another subject in which he excelled. After moving to Selsey in 1911, Heron-Allen quickly published his epic work, Selsey Bill Historic and Prehistoric, providing an exhaustive geographical history of the area; a condensed, ‘popular’ version of this was delivered by lecture at Chichester High School for Girls in 1911, illustrated by lantern slides. Heron-Allen also produced numerous scholarly articles on the area, primarily for the Sussex Archaeological Collections.

Perhaps more accessible for many of us are his seven volumes of Selseyana, dating from 1901-1937, comprising press cuttings, reports of local associations, postcards, posters and handbills, and assorted other ephemera, all of which provide a compelling story of what it was like to live on the peninsula. As with his other work, Heron-Allen’s thirst for knowledge, eye for detail and compulsion to collect have provided us with a social as well as physical history of this small corner of West Sussex.

 A handbill advertising Heron-Allen’s ‘Attractive Scientific Lecture’ on ‘Nature and History at Selsey Bill’.
A handbill advertising Heron-Allen’s ‘Attractive Scientific Lecture’ on ‘Nature and History at Selsey Bill’, held at Chichester High School for Girls on February 4, 1911. Reference MP 118.

The Edward Heron-Allen Collection is freely available to view at West Sussex Record Office. For information on opening times, our location and access conditions, please click see our website

The Edward Heron-Allen Society was formed in 2000. It hosts regular symposia and publishes a series of Opuscula, which concern the symposia and biographical matters relating to Heron-Allen. More about the Heron-Allen Society.

You can find out more about the Purple Sapphire on the Natural History Society’s website.

Nichola Court, Archivist
West Sussex Record Office

Related

The Edward Heron-Allen Collection, 1850 – ongoing

Browse the West Sussex Record Office descriptions to date on the Archives Hub

Birth of a Broadcasting Institution: British Broadcasting Company Papers and Reith Diaries at the BBC Written Archives Centre

Archives Hub feature for November 2022

The BBC is celebrating its centenary this year and the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham holds the documents that chronicle the Corporation’s contribution to the cultural history of the UK.

Rather than try and cover all 100 years in one post (you can see our selection of 100 objects here) I have picked out a couple of collections that come right at the beginning of the BBC’s story.

The Company Papers: from Company to Corporation

It’s hard to imagine a world without broadcast media, but in early 1922 the UK’s General Post Office (GPO) and a group of wireless manufacturers were busy negotiating how a nationwide system for wireless broadcasting on a large scale could be implemented and funded.

BBC-CO1-2 – Memo from the GPO outlining the Postmaster General’s considerations for broadcasting licences.

These discussions resulted in the formation of the ‘British Broadcasting Company’, the BBC’s predecessor before it was established under a Royal Charter in 1927.  The commercial company was granted a licence to broadcast by the GPO, funded by royalties from the sales of wireless sets from approved manufacturers. The Company was formed on 18th October 1922, registered on 15th December 1922 and received its Licence from the Post Office on 18th January 1923.

BBC/CO1/4/1 and BBC/CO1/5/1 – BBC Company Board of Directors Agenda Book and Attendance Book.

Daily broadcasts began on 14th November 1922 from Marconi House on the Strand. The regular programme on the 2LO London station included music, drama and ‘talks’ for several hours each day. Licences to receive the broadcasts could be obtained for 10 shillings.

There was soon debate about the relationship between the newly formed Company and the government. This came to a head with the General Strike in 1926, which opened up the possibility that the government could use the BBC as a means of promoting its own views. The Company managed to maintain its impartiality while covering the crisis, broadcasting from the point of the view of the strikers and the government, which appealed to the general public.

BBC/CO1/31/6 – General Strike News Bulletins for 8th May 1925 – Draft Copies.

Partly as a result of navigating the right tone for the strike and partly via the outcome of two committees to review the new medium of radio broadcasting (Sykes Committee in 1923 and Crawford Committee in 1925) the British Broadcasting Company was reorganised as a public service to become the British Broadcasting Corporation on 1st January 1927.

The papers in the archive for series CO1 cover the Company’s formation and organisation, including correspondence with the radio trade, politicians, and the press. The files, which include discussions around the first programme content and the tensions brought about by the General Strike, provide a fascinating glimpse into the origins of an organisation that is now so well-known.

Reith Diaries: the Founder of the BBC

John Reith (later Sir John Reith, and subsequently 1st Baron Reith of Stonehaven) became the first General Manager of the British Broadcasting Company in 1922 and the first Director-General of the Corporation from 1927 to 1938. His name has become so connected with the style and output of the BBC through his mission to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ that the term ‘Reithian’ has come to describe these principles of broadcasting.

MIP1610 – DG Portrait – Sir John Reith by Oswald Hornby Joseph Birley.

Born in 1889, Reith was son of a Scottish minister. He trained and worked as an engineer and factory manager, spending two years in America and serving as a lieutenant in the First World War. He successfully applied for the post of General Manager of the British Broadcasting Company in 1922, when there was little thought as to the direction it should take. This was to become the start of Reith’s ideas of broadcasting as a force for social good, with an intrinsically moral tone.

Having led the BBC through its formation as a Corporation, the introduction of overseas services and the launch of television, Reith resigned in 1938. He was involved in a number of high positions in government and as a chairman of several organisations before his death in 1971.   

The archive holds Reith’s personal papers as a Special Collection. Most notable are his diaries, which span from 1911 to his death. The volumes are a mixture of typed and handwritten material and cover Reith’s personal thoughts and decisions on both the business and domestic sides of his life, including the key events of his time at the BBC.

ACQ/S/S60/6/5 – Enclosure Volume 1927-1930.

Alongside the diaries are a collection of enclosure volumes, known as scrapbooks. These contain Reith’s hand-picked mementoes of his life and include letters, press cuttings and ephemera such as postcards and greetings cards. They help to provide a more personal portrait of Reith, who is so often associated purely with his working life.  

All of this material combines with everything in the written archives to provide extra context to well-known stories and increase our understanding of how past events shaped the BBC.

Further Information

Collection level descriptions for the BBC Broadcasting Company Papers and the Reith Special Collection are available to view on the Archives Hub:

Descriptions listing individual files will soon be available via the BBC Written Archives Centre’s in-house catalogue, which is currently in development.

The BBC Written Archives Centre is available to visit by appointment if you are carrying out an academic or commercial project.

For further information on the BBC centenary:

Matthew Chipping
Archive Collections Manager (WAC Catalogue)
BBC Written Archives Centre

Related

Browse the BBC Written Archives Centre descriptions to date on Archives Hub

All images copyright the BBC. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

Explore Science and Technology collections using Archives Hub

This blog post forms part of History Day 2022, a day of online interactive events for students, researchers and history enthusiasts to explore library, museum, archive and history collections across the UK and beyond. History Day is part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s national festival of the humanities, taking place 10–19 November 2022.

Use Archives Hub, a free resource, to find unique sources for your research, both physical and digital. Search across descriptions of archives, held at over 380 institutions and organisations across the UK.

This year’s History Day is themed ‘Human Discovery: Experiencing Science’, so we’re highlighting a range of archive collections relating to inventions, technology, medical advances and more.

Photograph of women factory workers during WW1. Image copyright Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Press photograph of women factory workers during WW1. Image copyright © Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Feature: Engineering and innovation during the First World War (October 2014).

Inventions and inventors

John Logie Baird papers (1906-2009). Baird was born in Helensburgh and studied electrical engineering at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College, then attended Glasgow University. After becoming apprenticed with Argyll Motors and then to working with other firms, from 1916 he engaged in various private business ventures in Glasgow, London and the West Indies. In 1922 he began to experiment with transmitting and receiving visual signals. In 1924 his efforts were rewarded by a flickering image on his screen. A public demonstration was given at Selfridge’s Oxford Street store in April 1925 and showed the transmission of crude outlines of simple objects. The world’s first demonstration of television followed on 26 January 1926 at the Royal Institution, London. In May 1927 the first demonstration of television between London and Glasgow took place, and in February of the following year the first transatlantic television broadcast was successfully carried out. On 30 September 1929 the BBC made its first television broadcast using the Baird 30-line system. Material held by University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections – see full collection description.

Papers of Marjorie Jean Oswald Kennedy (19th-20th century). Marjorie hailed from the Kennedy family of Kilmarnock which included Thomas Kennedy c1796-1874, founder of Glenfield & Kennedy (producers of valves) and inventor of the world’s first water meter. During the Second World War, Kennedy served with the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), 1942-1945. She was stationed at HMS Pembroke III, the WRNS training depot at Mill Hill in 1942, then at HMS Beaver, Hull, from 1942 to 1943, at HMS Drake, Devonport, in 1943, and then at HMS Pembroke III again and HMS Pembroke V, Bletchley Park, between 1943 and 1945. At Bletchley Park Kennedy was working with the team of allied codebreakers who were able to decrypt a vast number of messages that had been enciphered using the German’s Enigma machine. The intelligence gleaned from this source, codenamed ‘Ultra’ by the British, had been a substantial aid to the Allied war effort. Material held by Edinburgh University Library Special Collections – see full collection description.

Frederick Lanchester at the wheel of the 8 h.p. two cylinder Lanchester known as the ‘Gold Medal Phaeton’ with his brother George as passenger. c1899. Coventry University [reference no. LAN/1/16/4].

Photograph copyright © Coventry University.


Feature: The Frederick Lanchester archive at Coventry University (December 2018):
The work of car manufacturer, engineer, scientist and inventor Frederick Lanchester (1868-1946) is being celebrated by the Lanchester Interactive Archive project at Coventry University. He was one of the UK’s leading automobile engineers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and creator in 1895 of the first all-British four-wheel petrol driven motor car.

Records, publications and artefacts relating to James Watt (1705-1990): Watt was born at Greenock in 1736. He trained as an instrument maker in London and began to practise this trade in Glasgow. Watt soon developed a reputation as a high quality engineer and was employed on the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Caledonian Canal. In 1763 he repaired the model of Newcomen’s steam engine belonging to Glasgow University, and began experiments on properties of steam. Watt improved on the engine’s design and took out a patent for the separate condenser in 1769. He later adapted the engine to rotary motion, making it suitable for a variety of industrial purposes, and invented the flywheel and the governor. In 1774 he went into partnership with Matthew Boulton to make steam engines at their works at Soho, Birmingham. The first engines were used in collieries and iron works and were the driving force behind the transformation of cotton spinning from a cottage to factory industry. Watt’s inventive talents led him to patent a variety of machines and devices including a letter-copier and a smoke-consuming furnace. Material held by Heriot-Watt University Museum and Archive – see full collection description.

Technology

Lithograph of George Biggin, Letitia Sage and Vincenzo Lunardi ascending from St George’s Fields, London, 29 June 1785. Image copyright © National Aerospace Library.

Feature: Planes, pilots and politics: National Aerospace Library’s collections fly onto Archives Hub (April 2020).

Private Telegraph Companies (1846-1899): The development of the telegraph system in the United Kingdom closely followed the growth of the railways with telegraph offices often being located at stations. The Government allowed the network to develop under private ownership and did not intervene significantly in its running. This was in sharp contrast to the telegraph system on the Continent which had been under state ownership since its inception. By 1868 there were five major telegraph companies operating the inland network, all of which were open to criticism regarding errors, delays and high prices. Frank Ives Scudamore campaigned on behalf of the Post Office for them to be nationalised citing how unfavourably they compared with those on the Continent. Despite protestations from the companies a series of Acts of Parliament were passed and the inland telegraph system came under control of the Post Office in 1870. Material held by British Telecom Archives – see full collection description.

Online Resource: Developing LEO: The world’s first business computer. Reports, memoranda, photographs and other documents from the archives of the statistician John Simmons (1902-1985), including key material on the development of the pioneering LEO computers by J. Lyons & Company Ltd. during the 1940s and 1950s. Provided by Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick.

Barclaycard 1972 promotions. Photograph copyright © Barclays Group Archives.

Feature: Barclaycard: 50 years of plastic money – the story from the Archives (June 2016).

Illustration: Spare Rib, April 1978, photo copyright © The Women’s Library.

Feature: Typewriters and Office Machines

Online Resource: Hiroshima Archive – the Hiroshima Archive is a pluralistic digital archive using the digital earth to display in a multi-layered way all the materials gained from such sources as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Hiroshima Jogakuin Gaines Association, and the Hachioji Hibakusha (A-bomb Survivors) Association. Beyond time and space, the user can get a panoramic view over Hiroshima to browse survivors’ accounts, photos, maps, and other materials as of 1945, together with aerial photos, 3D topographical data, and building models as of 2010. The archive aims to promote multifaceted and comprehensive understanding of the reality of atomic bombing. Stories of Atomic bomb survivors living across Japan. Around 170 testimonies and around 150 photographs can be browsed.

Destroyer fitted with a type ‘N’ paravane. Image copyright © Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Feature: Engineering and innovation during the First World War (October 2014).

Medical Advances

Papers of the Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy (1919-2005): Dorset House, the first School of Occupational Therapy in England, was established by its visionary Medical Director, Dr Elizabeth Casson, in the latter part of the 1920s. Over the years the School has moved from its original base in Bristol to Bromsgrove, and finally to Oxford, firstly in Nissen Huts in the grounds of the Churchill Hospital and then to London Road in 1964. In 1992 Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy became part of Oxford Polytechnic, which, later that year, was conferred with university status and was named Oxford Brookes University. Material held by Oxford Brookes University Special Collections and Archives – full collection description.

Elizabeth Casson, aged 21. Image copyright © Oxford Brookes University Special Collections and Archives. Feature: The Dorset House Archive (December 2019).

John Charnley/William Waugh Collection (1922-1989): John Charnley, orthopaedic surgeon, born in 1911, was educated at the Medical School of the Victoria University of Manchester. In 1937, he took up his first post as a resident surgical officer at Salford Royal Hospital, and demonstrated an early talent for making and developing specialist apparatus and equipment. He first encountered work in orthopaedics and fractures in 1939 as resident casualty officer at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. During the Second World War, Charnley worked at an Orthopaedic Centre near Cairo, applying to become an orthopaedic specialist in 1942. Charnley returned to Manchester in 1946 at the Manchester Royal Infirmary as an honorary assistant orthopaedic surgeon and lecturer in orthopaedic surgery, and later as a consultant. In 1949, Charnley became a visiting orthopaedic surgeon at Wrightington Hospital. He began to work on the mobility of the hip in painful hip conditions due to arthritis. His discoveries in this field were made possible by his outstanding ability in engineering, and in working with materials. In 1961, Charnley established the Centre for Hip Surgery at Wrightington Hospital, where he pioneered and developed prostheses for hip replacement surgery, and studied the acceptance of artificial materials within bone and joint tissues. The hip replacement operation is now one of the most common operations performed in the UK. Material held by University of Manchester Library – full collection description.

Online Resource: London’s Pulse: Medical Officer of Health Reports 1848-1972. This collection features digitised reports of the UK Medical Officers of Health for the London area during the 19th and 20th centuries. These reports were compiled on an annual basis and include written information and statistical data on public health issues, such as infectious diseases, mortality rates, health services and environmental impacts on health. Selected reports are available from the period and the areas covered include the present City of London, the current 32 London boroughs and the predecessor local authorities for these areas. The reports also highlight the differences between different Medical Officers of Health and show how individual personality influenced their work and reporting style. Provided by the Wellcome Library.

Papers of Martindale, Louisa (1872-1966): Louisa Martindale was born in 1872 and studied at the London School of Medicine for Women and in Vienna, Berlin and Freiburg, obtaining her M.D. in London in 1906. She practised in Brighton and was founder of the New Sussex Hospital here in 1918, where she was Senior Honorary Surgeon. In 1921 she moved to London as a Consultant Surgeon and was Honorary Surgeon to the Marie Curie Hospital at Hampstead. During a visit to New York in 1919 she was a moving force behind the foundation of the Medical Women’s Federation and in 1931 she was elected President of that body. Martindale was a pioneer in the treatment of uterine cancer and fibroid growths in women through deep X-ray therapy. She died in 1966. Material held by the Wellcome Collection – full collection description.

HD/1/81: The minute book of the founders of the hospital, discussing the principles of kind treatment and moral management, dated 1842-1848. Image copyright © Archifau Sir Ddinbych / Denbighshire Archives.

Feature: Unlocking the Asylum: Cataloguing the North Wales Hospital Archive (August 2019).

Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority Archive (1948-1974): The collection consists of reports and monographs on the location, construction and administration of hospitals in Northern Ireland covering the period 1948 to 1974. Items include reports from The Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority, Hospital Management Committees, research organisations and central government. The archive constitutes the nucleus of the Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority library which passed to The Queen’s University of Belfast at the Authority’s demise in 1973. Queens University Medical Library continues to maintain an archive of material related to health and social services provision in Northern Ireland. Material held by Queen’s University Belfast Special Collections & Archives – full collection description.

One of our first attempts at archiving the RCN COVID-19 webpages using our digital archive. Image copyright © Royal College of Nursing Archives.

Feature: Creating a COVID-19 archive at the Royal College of Nursing (November 2020).

Florence Nightingale letters (1882-1883): Florence Nightingale, (1820-1910), nursing pioneer and reformer, is regarded as the founder of modern nursing. Born in Florence, Italy, she dedicated her life to the care of the sick and war wounded. In 1844, she began to visit hospitals; in 1850, she spent some time with the nursing Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul in Alexandria and a year later studied at the institute for Protestant deaconesses in Kaiserswerth, Germany. In 1854, she organized a unit of 38 nurses for service in the Crimean War. In 1860, she established the Nightingale School for nurse training at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London and in 1907 became the first woman to be given the British Order of Merit. This collection contains letters from Florence Nightingale to William Rathbone the MP for Caernarfonshire, concerning public health issues and the typhoid epidemic at Bangor in 1882. Material held by Archifdy Prifysgol Bangor / Bangor University Archives – full collection description.

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Archiving Art Deco: The Podolsky Collection at the Goldsmiths’ Company Library and Archive

Archives Hub feature for October 2022

In 2027 the Goldsmiths’ Company will celebrate 700 years since it received its first royal charter, which formalised the company’s existence as a craft guild.

To mark this anniversary, a programme of cataloguing and digitisation is underway to make the archives more widely accessible. Sharing the catalogues on public forums – such as the Archives Hub – is a vital aspect of this project.

The archives of the Goldsmiths’ Company date back to the 14th century, with the earliest minutes recorded in 1334. The company prides itself on the breadth of its archival collections; with records covering not only the broad administrative past of the company, but also the history of making and retailing in precious metals. The variety in the archives reflects the strong ties between the craft and the company that remain to this day.

The Podolsky Collection is an excellent example of a maker’s archive, recording all aspects of jewellery craft and trade; from design, to the promotion and sale of wares. Spanning from 1920-2010, the series also offers insight into the resilience of the trade and the evolution of style across the decades.

Paul Podolsky, liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ Company.

Most of the collection was donated to the archive by Paul Podolsky, a liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ Company with a career in jewellery spanning over 70 years. Throughout his career he worked both as a designer, then as an executive, dedicating himself to the company set up by his father Eyna Podolsky.

Eyna Podolsky, a Ukrainian immigrant and the son of metalworkers, began his career with an apprenticeship with a jeweller at just 12, eventually becoming a skilled diamond mounter, setter and engraver.

He was able to start his own business in 1920 and was so successful he employed around 40 people. Originally diamond mounters and watchcase makers, the firm was first known as The British National Watch Case Co.

Eyna Podolsky was the first man in Britain to go into mass production of platinum and diamond-set wrist watches, which were mainly sold to wholesalers.

AC/4/1/3/107: designs for diamond-set wrist watches.

The company also had orders for other pieces of jewellery and commissions from some private clients. In total there are over 130 design drawings in the collection, many of which are from the 1920s and 1930s and so are excellent examples of Art Deco work.

AC/4/1/3/26: design for a brooch or double clip.
AC/4/1/3/93: design drawing for a bracelet, showing annotations to design.

Paul Podolsky’s childhood was spent in and out of his father’s workshops, learning techniques from craftspeople long before he officially joined the firm. Despite this upbringing, Paul didn’t initially want to be a jeweller; he left school at 16 to join a commercial art studio in 1939. The outbreak of war soon closed this down, and Paul joined his father’s studio as an apprentice diamond mounter, by which time the business was thriving in its Hatton Garden premises.

AC/4/2/1: Business card, in 1938 the firm became known as E. Podolsky & Co., Ltd.

The markets depressed during the war and many young jewellers joined the army, leaving an aging workforce. These gaps were supplemented by an influx of Jewish refugees to Hatton Garden leading up to the war. Paul Podolsky recalls craftspeople from all over the former British Empire coming to work in London at this time, including a German-Jewish refugee named ‘Margot’ who joined the Podolsky workshop.

AC/4/1/3/18: design drawing for a brooch, reportedly designed by ‘Margot’ a German-Jewish refugee named Margot working at the company during the war.
AC/4/1/3/19: design drawing for a brooch by Paul Podolsky, inspired by ‘Margot’s’ design.

Like many jewellers E. Podolsky & Co. Ltd. switched to supplying for the war effort – using their small tools to create objects such as fuses. Production at times was 24 hours a day with Paul and his colleagues working night shifts.

After his own service in the army (1944-1947), Paul Podolsky took control of the business, and one of his first actions in charge was to acquire the jewellery subdivisions of Birmingham firms Blanckensee and Albion Chain who had decided to concentrate on engineering work after the war. 

This new venture had to pivot away from the fine work produced between the wars to produce cheaper 9ct items. Many of the initial designs were drawn by Paul Podolsky himself as he was unable to afford a professional designer. It was a gamble, but his economy paid off, with the company still producing commercial jewellery well into the 1980s.

AC/4/1/3/136: designs for more economical brooches in the post-war market.

Further information

The listings for the Paul Podolsky collection are available on Archives Hub: https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/data/gb1990-ac/4

The archive is also available to view by appointment at the Goldsmiths Company Library and Archive:
https://www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk/craft/library-research/

Listen to the Goldsmiths’ Company Librarian, Eleni Bide’s talk on Paul Podolsky here: https://vimeo.com/674581225

For further information on the history of the Goldsmiths’ Company:
https://www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk/company/history/history-of-the-company/

Sophie Leverington
Archivist
The Goldsmiths’ Company
Goldsmith’s Hall

Related

Browse The Goldsmiths’ Company Library and Archive descriptions to date on the Archives Hub

All images copyright The Goldsmiths’ Company. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

Establishment of the East London Mosque Archives

Archives Hub feature for September 2022

About the East London Mosque Archives

Mosque, referred to as a place of worship for Muslims is probably not something that would jump to our minds when we think of archives. It is not surprising then that people are often intrigued to learn that the East London Mosque, which is one of London’s oldest Mosque has its own archive repository located in its complex; the Maryam Centre in Whitechapel. Established as an archive service in 2015, the ELM Archives as it is commonly called, has unique and rich archive collections documenting the various aspects of British Muslim-related history, which is housed in a purpose built Strong Room. At the moment, it is the only mosque in Britain with such facility.

Strong Room, November 2017. Section of the mobile roller racking within the new purpose built Strong Room with some of the East London Mosque archives on the shelves.
Strong Room, November 2017. Section of the mobile roller racking within the new purpose built Strong Room with some of the East London Mosque archives on the shelves.

The ELM Archives Project

The ELM Archives holds the institutional records, dating from 1910 onwards of the East London Mosque Trust, which is responsible for the administration and management of the Mosque. What is perhaps not widely known is that the Archives came into existence from a campaign initiated by the Mosque to preserve its own heritage. This all begun in 1995, when the late Muhammad Suleiman Jetha who was a former Chairman of the East London Mosque rediscovered and bequeathed the documents he had taken during the World War II bombings for safekeeping back to the Mosque. The deposit contained the London Mosque Fund Minute Book and collection of letters, which provided wealth of information on the creation and shaping of the East London Mosque. Realising the value, this led to the start of an effort, later to become recognised as the ELM Archives Project, to professionally organise and store the Mosque archives.

The London Mosque Fund Minute Book, 1910-1951
The London Mosque Fund Minute Book, 1910-1951. Part of the East London Mosque Trust archive collection, the London Mosque Fund Minute Book records a great deal of information right back to the first meeting in 1910, including how the London Mosque Fund raised money; how it invested the funds when they were established; the search for property; and how the fund helped other organisations in the interim period before it bought the premises for the Mosque. The minutes are written in a beautiful handwriting for the first 150 pages and from 1930s onwards there inserts of typewritten sheets.

Not much was done until 2012 when the Mosque secured the help of a qualified Archivist to carry out a two day scoping study of the existing materials to identify the work required for long term protection and management of the archives. The report compiled at the end offered recommendations on how to classify, catalogue, preserve and provide access to the archives.

Further progress was made as the Mosque submitted a successful application for The National Archives’ Cataloguing Grants programme in 2013. This secured a grant to recruit a temporary Archivist for 1 year to catalogue the archives. At the same time, an Archives Steering Group was formed, comprising of different individuals with relevant expertise within the Mosque and externally from the Religious Archives Group to deliver strategic guidance for the Project. By the end of 2014, the archives were appraised, sorted and catalogued accordingly to best practice in archival standards onto the Archives Hub. Moreover, all the archive materials were labelled, repackaged into acid free folders and put into acid free boxes.

Transition to Archives Service

Inside of The London Mosque Fund Minute Book, 1910-1951.
Inside of The London Mosque Fund Minute Book, 1910-1951.

The success of the cataloguing meant that the archive collection of the East London Mosque Trust went live on the Archives Hub in September 2014, and for the time it was made available to the public for online browsing. To accommodate enquiries and facilitate requests to access the archives, 9 volunteers were recruited. They were given training on how to retrieve and put away documents, supervise researchers and assist with basic queries by the Archivist.

The Reading Room service and the online catalogue were officially launched in January 2015. Since then, the Archives has been hosting both internal and external researchers. Access to the Reading Room is free and open to everyone. The Reading Room currently operates on a part time basis and researchers are requested to book an appointment in advance before their intended visit. Further details of the opening hours can be found on the Archives repository homepage within the Archives Hub.

For the long term storage of the archive materials, the Archives Steering Group researched and developed specifications and requirements to build a purpose built Strong Room in the Maryam Centre. Standards relevant at the time, such as PD 5454:2012 Guide for the Storage and Exhibition of Archival Materials and The National Archives’ Standard for Record Repositories, which gave recommendations for storing and keeping archives within best practice and incorporated factors such as repository construction, storage environment, fire protection and prevention and temperature and humidity parameters were taken into consideration. The built also took into account archival storage needs for the next 50 years. Soon after, fundraising for the necessary construction and equipment began. The building of the Strong Room, equipped with mobile shelving, monitoring system for humidity, humidifiers and extractors, fire proofing and fire alarm system and water drainage arrangements was accomplished and inaugurated on 22 November 2017 by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Launch Day, January 2015. The event celebrated the completion of cataloguing of the East London Mosque Trust archive collection and launch of the online catalogue on Archives Hub and opening of the Reading Room service. Photograph shows Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, Simon Hughes, Former Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties, Eilís McCarthy, Project Archivists with Archive Volunteers.
Launch Day, January 2015. The event celebrated the completion of cataloguing of the East London Mosque Trust archive collection and launch of the online catalogue on Archives Hub and opening of the Reading Room service. Photograph shows Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, Simon Hughes, Former Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties, Eilís McCarthy, Project Archivists with Archive Volunteers.

The ELM Archives Now

It has been a long journey and the ELM Archives has now transitioned from a Project to a Service. In 2018, a part time permanent Archivist was employed by the Mosque to manage the growing archive collections. The Archives started with the intention of just preserving the history of the East London Mosque but now endeavours to create a repository for all and any records relating to British Muslims in Britain.

With the collecting remit broadened, at present, the Archives has the following archival collections in its holdings:

Due to a backlog, not all these collections have been fully catalogued and made available on the Archives Hub yet. Please contact the East London Mosque Archives for further information.     

Further Information 

Browse all the East London Mosque Archives collection descriptions on the Archives Hub.

Ways to connect with the East London Mosque Archives:

Email: archives@londonmuslimcentre.org.uk

Website: http://eastlondonmosquearchives.org.uk/

Twitter: @ELM Archives

Instagram: ELM_Archives

To discover the history of the East London Mosque, from the formation of the London Mosque Fund in 1910, the opening of the first Mosque buildings in 1941, making of the Mosque in Whitechapel to the present day, browse the following links:

https://www.eastlondonmosque.org.uk/history

https://www.ourmigrationstory.org.uk/oms/the-east-london-mosque

https://surveyoflondon.org/map/feature/954/detail/

The London Mosque Fund Minute Book from the East London Mosque Trust archive collection has been digitised and a copy can be accessed here:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/royal-historical-society-camden-fifth-series/article/london-mosque-fund/800E27BBC9A990B01C1AB43B7515A079

Shahera Begum, Archivist
East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre

All images copyright East London Mosque Archives. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

Larkin with archives

Archives Hub feature for August 2022

Preserving a literary legacy…

‘I feel the only thing you can do about life is to preserve it, by art if you’re an artist, by children if you’re not’ (PAL, letter to Monica Jones)

Self-portrait taken by Larkin whilst on a beach in Sark with Monica Jones, 1961 [RefNo. U DLV/2/5/49]

The 9th of August 2022 marks the centenary of the birth of poet and librarian Philip Arthur Larkin.

His approach to life as represented in the above quote will resonate with anyone involved in archival work and research. It speaks to the core function of the archivist in preserving the surviving evidence of past thoughts, beliefs and events.

Although not born in Hull, Larkin was intimately connected with the city. Appointed to the post of Librarian at the University of Hull in March 1955, he spent half of his life in the area, living first in Cottingham, then in Hull’s Pearson Park, and finally in the well-to-do area of Newland Park near the University. Some of his most famous works were inspired by the experience of living in, travelling from and returning to the city. During his time at the University, he guided the library through a period of significant development, helping to transform it from a small operation in a series of makeshift spaces, to a purpose built and sector-leading academic library. Through his collaboration with academic colleagues, he promoted the growth of Hull University Archives from a small selection of manuscripts to an internationally significant repository for archive collections. So, it is fitting that his surviving archive is held at Hull as part of the University Archives.

Creative process of a poet…

‘[T]o construct a verbal device that would preserve an experience indefinitely by reproducing it in whoever read the poem’ (PAL, definition of the purpose of a poet, from Required Reading)

Self-portrait taken by Larkin whilst in Oxford, 1941 [RefNo. U DLV/2/1/14]

One of the most important of the Larkin related collections held at Hull is his personal archive which contains, amongst other things, his manuscript poetry workbooks.

Draft of poem ‘Fiction and the reading public’, 19 May 1949 [RefNo U DPL/1/2/56]

Written in pencil, they contain manuscript drafts of poems written by Larkin, and provide evidence that he drafted and redrafted individual poems over several days or weeks, even returning to them months later. The pages sometimes feature small doodles or comments, giving us an insight into his feelings and state of mind in a given moment. Thus, the workbooks are a vital and unique record of Larkin’s creative process.

Capturing a view on life…

‘I feel the only thing you can do about life is to preserve it, by art if you’re an artist, by children if you’re not’ (PAL, letter to Monica Jones)

Spring Bank Cemetery taken by Larkin, c.1960s [RefNo. U DLV/3/249/14]

Aside from writing poetry, Larkin was a keen and skilled amateur photographer and the evidence is preserved in his photographic archive [RefNo. U DLV]. Having shown an interest in photography from a young age, Larkin was given a camera to use by his father, a Houghton-Butcher Ensign Carbine No.5. In a letter dated 1947, addressed to a childhood friend, he notes that he has spent a large amount of money on a camera of his own, believed to be a Purma Special. From this point there was no looking back, and later on he became known for his use of a professional quality Rolleiflex camera with timers, lenses and filters.

Gull streaked mud flats along the banks of the Humber River, taken and marked up for enlargement by Larkin, c.1957 [RefNo. U DLV/3/91/4 and U DLV/2/5/32]

His approach to photography seems akin to that of his writing. His photographs skilfully capture the experience of everyday life according to fundamental principles of photographic composition. His subjects regularly include self-portraits, rural landscapes, church yards, and the friends, family and women in his life. His surviving photographs often show evidence that he marked up prints for enlargement to create a better composition.

Communication is key…

‘Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself’ (PAL, This be the verse)

Self-portrait of Larkin and Monica Jones, taken by Larkin, c.1950s [U DMA]

In an age of emails, texts and social media, we perhaps forget how important letter writing was to communication in the mid-20th century. Larkin was a prolific letter writer, maintaining contact with friends, acquaintances, and family on a regular basis. There are many collections of his correspondence at Hull.

Letter from Larkin to James ‘Jim’ Sutton, 1940 [U DP174/2/9]

Highlights include letters sent to Monica Jones, his life-long partner [RefNo. U DX341], which reveal their close and frank relationship, along with aspects of Larkin’s character and life views. Another highlight is the correspondence between Larkin and his childhood friend James Sutton [U DP174 and U DP182]. The two friends discuss home life, friends, jazz music, and their current creative endeavours, which provides opportunity to explore Larkin’s formative years at home, school and university.

Further information…

In this centenary year we’ve been busy working to enhance access to the Larkin collections, improving catalogue descriptions, producing a new source guide and creating an online exhibition.

To access the source guide: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/archives-at-hhc/published-guides

To explore the online exhibition: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/larkin100/home

Claire Weatherall, Archivist
Hull University Archives

Related

Collections at Hull University Archives relating to Philip Larkin – letters, papers and more

Browse all Hull University Archives descriptions on the Archives Hub

Previous features on Hull University Archives

For those in peril on the sea – Seamen’s Missions archives at Hull History Centre (2019)

Papers of the Association of Chief Police Officers – the National Reporting Centre (2016)

Liberty, Parity and Justice at the Hull History Centre (2010)

All images copyright Hull University Archives. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

The Edge Hill University Archive

Archives Hub feature for June 2022

Edge Hill University’s history dates back to the 1880s when a committee was formed in 1882 to establish a teacher training college for women in Liverpool. Students would be instructed “in the Christian Religion upon a Scriptural but undenominational basis.”

The minutes of the first meeting of the Edge Hill Training College Committee, February 1882. Ref: EHU/GOV/1/12.

The College was opened on Durning Road in the Edge Hill district of Liverpool in January 1885, with just 41 students. Sarah Jane Yelf was appointed as the College’s first Principal, with the intention of producing ‘a superior class of Elementary School Mistresses’. Sarah Jane Hale took over as principal in 1890 and the institution began a gradual expansion. Miss Hale died in 1920 and by the end of her tenure the College had trained 2,071 girls, of whom 213 were Head Mistresses, 178 First Assistants, and 30 science mistresses. Miss Hale’s successor in 1920 was Eva Marie Smith and she would continue with the ambitious expansion of the College, with it by now having a firmly established reputation for excellence.

Postcard showing the original Edge Hill College on Durning Road, Liverpool.

Miss Smith and her colleagues had begun to feel that the Durning Road site was not suitable for the growing student and staff population (as well as facing regular problems with the upkeep of the site. In 1925, Edge Hill was placed under the control of Lancashire County Council who would provide a new building for the college, preserving the original name, history and reputation. A site in Ormskirk was chosen and the foundation stone of the new building was laid in 1931, before opening in October 1933.

During the Second World War, the College was evacuated to Bingley Training College while the campus served as a military hospital. The original Durning Road premises were destroyed in a German bombing raid on 28 November 1940, killing 166 people – the worst single incident in the Liverpool Blitz as regards loss of life.

The gradual expansion of the Ormskirk campus resumed after the War and, in 1959, the first male students were welcomed to the College. During the 1960s courses were expanded and diversified, with a rapidly developing range of degree courses on offer.

Watercolour of Edge Hill College, Ormskirk, by an unknown student, 1950s. Ref: EHU/GUAL/3/27/4.

Over the next decades, the institution would maintain its reputation for excellence in teacher training while also steadily expanding a range of successful degree courses in other areas. This acceleration of curriculum, infrastructure and institutional development has continued to the present day, with the University Title awarded in 2006.

The Edge Hill University archives offer a wealth of potential areas for research. The collections have vast potential for the history of teacher training, women’s education and the changing lives of women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The expansion of Edge Hill in recent decades means its history has a great deal to tell us about the development of higher education in Britain as well as the changing experiences of those who studied and were employed here. Each milestone changed and broadened the horizons of what Edge Hill University is today.

Photograph of a page from a student’s autograph album portraying the highs and lows of Test Week, c. 1904. Ref: EHU/GUAL/3/12/1.

It would be fantastic to see this collection being used more for research. It has already proven a fantastic resource for historians of women’s suffrage, with a number of Edge Hill’s alumni having been active in the fight for equality and some becoming particularly well-known figures such as the barrister and women’s rights campaigner, Helena Normanton and the socialist, feminist and human rights campaigner, Ethel Snowden. Discussions around women’s suffrage and equality were often covered and reported on in the annual Edge Hill College magazines – a wonderfully rich series of documents that reveal much about the cultural shifts in the lives of women during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Four Edge Hill students, 1922.

The dedicated cataloguing of the archive only began in late 2019, so there is a huge amount of material yet to be catalogued, as well as a constant flow of new accessions arriving at the archive, so researchers are encouraged to contact us if they cannot find things that they might expect to find listed, would like to find out more about the collections or have a specific enquiry we might be able to support them with. Get in touch and discover an archive collection that is overflowing with untapped potential!

Dan Copley
Edge Hill University Archivist

Related

Edge Hill University and Predecessors, c. 1882-c. 2019

Edge Hill University Archives on the Archives Hub

All images copyright Edge Hill University Archives. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

Stanley Houghton Collection and Salford Digital Archives

Archives Hub feature for May 2022

This month we explore the recently digitised Stanley Houghton Collection held by the University of Salford and made accessible on Salford Digital Archives.  2022 marks 110 years since the first performance of Houghton’s best-known dramatic work, Hindle Wakes.

Photograph from a Hindle Wakes production in 1912, Ref: SHC/4/2.

About Houghton

William Stanley Houghton (1881-1913) was born in 1881 in Ashton-upon-Mersey, Cheshire and during his short life would become one of a group of playwrights known as the ‘Manchester School’. 

It would seem Houghton had a standard middle-class upbringing.  His father was a cotton cloth merchant in Manchester and in 1896 the family moved to Alexandra Park, a middle-class residential area south of the city from where Houghton attended Manchester Grammar School.  On finishing school, Houghton went straight into his father’s cotton business, where he worked as a ‘grey-cloth’ salesman.  It was during this time whilst working in the city that Houghton was developing his skills as a playwright and supplemented his income by writing critical reviews for the Manchester Guardian

Houghton was one of several playwrights championed by Annie Horniman for his focus on what she called ‘real life’.  Horniman was proprietor of Manchester’s Gaiety Theatre, the first repertory theatre outside of London with its own company of actors and a rotating programme of plays by local writers.  It was through the association with the Gaiety that Houghton’s work was performed to audiences in London and America. 

Hindle Wakes

Houghton’s best and most successful work was Hindle Wakes (1912), a comedy about the freedom of the young and the ‘double standard’ of morality. Written in 1911 and premiered at the London Aldwych Theatre in 1912, the play was controversial at the time for its portrayal of a mill girl who shocks the older generation by choosing independence rather than marriage to the mill owners’ son.  The play both appealed and shocked audiences but ultimately proved a hit on an international level.  The financial success of the play, coupled with the production of Houghton’s earlier work The Younger Generation (1909) enabled him to leave the cotton trade and take to writing full time.  

However, Houghton’s career as a full-time writer was short lived.  After moving to London and then Paris, Houghton returned to Manchester in ill health where he died in 1913 at the age of 32.  

Highlights from the collection

Purchased by the university of Salford in 1983, the Stanley Houghton Collection is largely made up of unpublished manuscripts of plays which give insight into his working methods and character.  It was through a ‘chance check in a Manchester telephone directory’ that a PhD student at the University interested in the life and work of the writer discovered Houghton’ living descendants.  It turned out that they had kept a collection of previously unseen manuscripts by Houghton and photographs of early performances ‘wrapped in brown paper…in various suitcases in the house and garage’.

Page from Ginger, Ref: SHC/1/5.
Plan of stage layout for Ginger, Ref: SHC/1/5.

The works are a mixture of comedies, such as Pearls (c1910) which was designed for the music hall, and melodramas such as The Intriguers (c1906) that demonstrate his development as a writer and working method. Ginger (c1910) is evidence of Houghton’s approach to planning and plot development.  I particularly like Houghton’s handwritten note on the page opposite the start of Act 2, to ‘focus Ginger a bit’, which makes me think of Houghton, pencil in hand reviewing his work.   The typescript of Act 3 of Trust the People includes handwritten stage prompts to get the ‘gramophone ready’, giving a sense of how the work might have been produced on stage. 

Page from Trust the People Act 3, Ref: SHC/1/3.

There are also published first edition translations of some of his works including Twixt Cup and Lip, a version of Houghton’s play The Dear Departed in Scots dialect by Felix Fair.

Front cover of Twixt Cup and Lip, Ref: SHC/2/4.

My favourite items in the collection are two sets of photographs of early 20th century theatre productions of Hindle Wakes and The Younger Generation.  They include actors from the Gaiety Repertory Theatre who first performed Hindle Wakes some 110 years ago at the London Aldwych Theatre.  The photos not only capture the sets and costumes of a theatre production at a particular point in time, but are also portraits of early 20th century actresses, including Ada King, Sybil Thorndike and Edyth Goodall. 

Photograph from a Hindle Wakes production in 1912, Ref: SHC/4/2.
Photograph from a Hindle Wakes production in 1912, Ref: SHC/4/2.

I would love to see the Stanley Houghton Collection used more for teaching and research.  Houghton was writing and dramatizing the life and society of the young just before the start the 1914 Great War which of course would have an enormous impact on his own generation. 

Salford Digital Archives

The Houghton manuscripts and photographs are one of several collections now available on Salford Digital Archives, the University of Salford’s new platform to access digital archive content online. 

Other collections on the platform include Brass Band News, a unique newspaper about brass bands from the 1880s up to the 1950s, alongside photographs from the Working Class Movement Library and the Bridgewater Canal.  We are adding new collections to the platform in due course including a set of architectural drawings and plans for the University campus and two series of Salford Student Union newspapers.  We welcome ideas for new collections and opportunities to work in partnership to curate content from our own and other archives. 

Alexandra Mitchell
Archivist, The University of Salford

Related

Stanley Houghton Collection, 1906-1930s

Brass Band News Digital Archive (Online Resource)

Browse all University of Salford Archives & Special Collections descriptions:

On the Archives Hub (main site)

On University of Salford microsite (Archives Hub repository website)

Browse all Working Class Movement Library collection descriptions on the Archives Hub

All images copyright University of Salford Archives & Special Collections. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

An Archive of a True Love Story

Archives Hub feature for April 2022

This is the true love story of Geoffrey Griffiths (1906-1993) and Ida Carroll (1905-1995).

Griff

Referred to as “Griff” by many alumni, the lasting memories of this charming chap are primarily as the pipe-smoking first impression of the Northern School of Music. Stepping into the school off Sydney Street (where the Manchester Metropolitan University’s sport centre is now) his lugubrious voice would greet you amid a stain of smoke.

He was the school’s bursar. He typed up the daily notices on the school’s stairwell pillars, he drove the van full of the larger instruments (and their carefully balanced players) to the concert halls for orchestral performances and he kept everything squared away with the balance sheets.

What many did not know, is that he was in a dedicated relationship with the school’s principal Ida Carroll, for about 60 years.  The only reason we know it now is due to the treasure chest of incredible love letters he sent her.

The letters

He wrote his Christmas letters to her at 1 min past midnight on the 24th so he could technically be the first to wish her Merry Christmas.

Geoffrey wrote letters, beautiful love letters, to Ida throughout their relationship. He would write multiple times a week, often just after getting home late at night from visiting her in order to tell her how much he already missed and loved her.

His writing to her was so prolific it seemed only to continue the conversations they had started when meeting face to face, undoubtedly to be picked up again when they next met. Most are merely introduced as “Monday afternoon”, and “Tuesday evening”.  No need to put down such frivolous details as dates when he’s seeing her again by the end of the week.

There are some incredible references the Second World War when he’s had to hastily put down his pen, pick up his papers and pipe (priorities), and make his way to crouch under the stairs or in the nearest bomb shelter. He is very put out as he continues his letter writing in the cramped din, often cursing Herr Hitler for getting in the way of their love affair, which was apparently damned inconsiderate of him.

Griff pours out his war and wedding anxieties to Ida, 1939 (1).

Ida was an Air Raid Precaution Warden for the Didsbury area of Manchester. Griff was part of the Auxiliary Fire Service in Ashton-under-Lyne, spending many nights in the rooms of a bar parlour with a handful of other chaps, waiting for air raids and the inevitable fires that came after. Many long nights of boredom led to some very interesting letters, full of wartime musings, pining for more time with her, and pages upon pages agonising over details such as the merits of joining a journalism course, the exact details of the journey home, and Whist tactics.

Griff pours out his war and wedding anxieties to Ida, 1939 (2).

The couple apart

However, despite their devotion to one another, they didn’t traditionally exist as a couple. Indeed, they never actually lived together. One reason for this, it would seem, was Walter Carroll.

Walter was Ida’s father, and a firm fan of Griff for all it would appear. Griff worked in the travel agency frequented by Walter for his many trips to London. Over time, they got friendly and upon discovering Griff’s interest in singing and music (he had a cello called Boris), Walter enrolled Griff into his own choir at Birch Church. It’s likely that this is when he got to know and fall in love with Ida.

He would visit her at her family home and seemed openly intimidated by her father who, despite his appreciation of Griff’s musical passion, did not appreciate any other passion of Griff’s finding focus in his daughter.

The majority of their friends were also unaware of their affair. Both avid Hallé concert goers, they would arrange tickets to go with friends, fully intending to casually meet up at the concert, sit together or near, and meet up together after. A sort of stealth date night.

Getting closer and closer was all well and good, but still they never made the marriage/cohabitation plunge. Even though at one time they had planned to get married and were actively hunting for flat to take together. His letters describe in detail their dreams, just as the Second World War was being announced. Unfortunately, Griff’s mother died shortly after their plans were made. Moving out would have meant leaving his father alone in the family home through war and through grief. It seemed that Walter’s unwillingness to support the union and this tragic weight of family duty, led Griff to write a heart-breaking letter explaining why he needed to call off the engagement.

The couple together

Griff and Ida on holiday c.1960.

After the war, he quickly took up the opportunity to work as the Bursar of the Northern School of Music (where Ida was Secretary and later Principal) in 1946. Typical of the Northern School of Music and of Ida’s method of career advice, he was not expected to interview but simply to show up and never leave. Which is pretty much what happened.

They remained dedicated to each other, but never married. Their relationship continued for many years, almost in a perpetuating stage of courting. Griff later fell severely ill and Ida nursed him through to the end of his life, almost moving into the nursing home where he lived his final days.

Griff and Ida c.1990.

A lovely side-note here that shares some of the effectiveness of the school’s teaching. A friend and former student of Ida would visit her at Griff’s nursing home. The building was all locks and electronic key codes and it became a bit of a faff. Ida, having taught aural skills for decades had learned the key codes to the door locks simply based on the melody they made. She would relay this to her old friend in “tonic sol-far” (you know the one: do re mi fa sol…), singing the code notes to her, to allow freer movement in and out of the building when she visited.

While not dramatic opera-esque, or reminiscent of soaring symphony crescendos, this was a quiet, steadfast, romantic love of the ages. To read all the letters, head over to the Manchester Digital Music Archive with a cup of tea and sigh ready in your heart.

Heather Roberts
RNCM College Archivist
Royal Northern College of Music

Related

The Carroll Papers: Walter, Elsa and Ida Carroll, c.1850-1999

Browse all Royal Northern College of Music Archives collection descriptions on the Archives Hub

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Thomas Baron Pitfield (1903-1999): a visual autobiography

All images copyright RNCM Archives. Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.