In 2020 the Cadbury Research Library was successful in our application for funding from the Wellcome Trust to catalogue the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Youth Hostel Association (YHA) archive collections. We were awarded £235,791 for a two-year project called ‘Healthy Minds and Active Bodies: the promotion of health and wellbeing by UK youth movement’. Both archive collections provide a fantastic body of material regarding work with young people and their physical and mental health, from the development of gymnasiums and outdoor activities and pursuits to educational and vocational courses.
The project employed two Project Archivists, an Archives Assistant, and a part time Project Manager with the aim of producing an online searchable catalogue, and to undertake preservation activities, for both collections. Work started in July 2021 after our previous Wellcome Trust funded project, on the Save the Children archive, was completed. After two years we are delighted to announce the completion of the project and the launch of the collections’ online catalogues during June which will be found here.
The YMCA collection
The National Council of YMCAs’ archive collection dates to the foundation of the YMCA in 1844 and continues to the 21st century covering the various facets of work undertaken during the charity’s long history. The archive primarily concerns the YMCA National Council which was formed in 1882 to support the work, and act as a national voice, of the growing network of local YMCA associations. The archive contains committee minutes and governance papers, project papers, publications and magazines, photographs and slides, and audio-visual material and objects.
The collection also contains a vast range of material regarding YMCA local associations across England, Wales, and Ireland, including prospectuses, programmes, publications, and photographs. Affiliated and associated organisations are also represented within the collection including the YMCA Women’s Auxiliary, formed at the end of the First World War, the YMCA Secretaries Association, and publications from the YMCA World Alliance.
The archive documents the YMCA’s various activities to support young men’s, and later also young women’s, spiritual, mental, and physical health. Their early activities ranged from bible classes, lectures, and educational classes on history, science, and religion. Physical activity was also important with the creation of gymnasiums and sporting competitions, and in America the YMCA invented basketball. The YMCA also prioritised recreational activities and created holiday centres and hosted classes and clubs for drawings, drama, and debating. The YMCA also supported training and employment initiatives, including British Boys for British Farms’ programme, training colleges and Youth in Industry schemes.
Perhaps the most well-known aspect of YMCA’s history has been their work with the armed forces, and in particular the support they provided during the First and Second World Wars. The YMCA created hundreds of canteens and huts to support the welfare needs of troops, munition workers, civilians and Prisoners of War during the First World War. The archives document this work through the ‘Green Books’ series of photographs which have been digitised and are available to view via the catalogue. During the Second World War the YMCA canteen vans were a common sight providing refreshments, including tea and cake, behind the front lines and on the Home Front during the Blitz.
The YMCA has evolved and adapted over its 179-year history to support the needs of the young people it is trying to help and today supports hundreds of thousands of children, young people, and parents every year.
The YHA collection
The YHA (England and Wales) was founded in 1930, following in the footsteps of the world’s first youth hostel association which was founded in Germany in 1909. The movement was set up ‘to help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside, particularly by providing hostels or other simple accommodation for them on their travels’. From its initial foundation, the YHA expanded rapidly. By the end of 1931, there were 73 hostels open to the 6000 members of the YHA. By 1939, membership had reached 83,000.
Although the national council and committees had overall oversight and handled high-level decision making, much of the day-to-day management of the hostels and membership fell to regional groups. The YHA archive includes national and regional governance records, including an almost complete sequence of national council and committee minutes. As well as recording the development and management of hostels and membership, these records chart YHA’s work in countryside management, outdoor education, and the development of city hostels.
The collection also includes a large section of printed material, including YHA handbooks, guides, maps, and posters and leaflets, a large photograph collection, and property records charting the history of individual hostels, of the day-to-day management of the hostels and membership fell to regional groups.
In addition to these official records, the YHA archive includes personal papers and objects collected by YHA staff, wardens, and hostellers, including diaries, hostel log books, and YHA merchandise. These records compliment the other papers in the archive and provide a more personal view of the YHA and its impact on 20th century society.
Matthew Goodwin YMCA/YHA Project Archivist Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham
Archives of IT (AIT) began when entrepreneur Roger Graham saw the need to interview the founding generation of the IT Industry and save their stories for the future. Up to this point, heritage work was happening to save the history of computers, hardware and games but little was being done to preserve the social and oral history of the people behind the technology.
Archives of IT was registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in 2015, with the aims of educating the public on the history of IT, particularly through the provision of a digital archive, accessible at www.archivesit.org.uk. AIT is governed by trustees, chaired by communications specialist John Carrington, and has a small number of part time staff and a team of volunteers who manage the acquisition of materials, the website and the production of blogs and education resources.
Initially, the focus for interviews has been on early post-war pioneers of IT that were at the forefront of this new industry – the intention to save those stories before time ran out. However, as time has passed interviews have become more contemporary, capturing more current trends in the IT sector, and taking in diverse topics such as women in STEM, infra-red technology, cybersecurity, venture capitalists and wearable health devices.
Oral history interviews
Much has been achieved in AIT’s first seven years, including more than 220 oral history interviews recorded, transcribed, and uploaded to the website for people to view. The first interview was published on the website in 2017; David Potter CBE discusses his life in academia in computer simulation, then his move to the business world establishing Potter Scientific Instruments, or Psion. They invented the world’s first personal digital assistant – the Psion Organiser – in 1984 and advising Nokia in the 1990s as mobile telephone technology began to take off.
Other oral history collection highlights include:
The first UK Professor of Informatics and a pioneer of early commercial computing Professor Frank Land
As part of its charitable aims to contribute to IT education in the UK, AIT have produced primary school learning and careers resources for teachers in collaboration with The Institution of Engineering and Technology. Key Stage 1 and 2 lesson plans have been developed and are available to download on the website. Key Stage 3 and 4 careers advice to encourage pupils to consider a job in IT are also available.
A recent school competition to design a logo for FIFA World Cup 2026 was successful, with nearly 100 entries from UK Schools. This latest competition was linked to the national curriculum by encouraging schoolchildren to use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content to accomplish a given goal.
It also involved history by looking at events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally and art, to use drawing to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imaginations and develop a wide range of design techniques using colour, line, shape, form, and space.
Education resources – Research projects
AIT is working with several partners to produce research based on its collections. Published research can be read here on topics ranging from the post Second World War IT Industry to 60 years progress of women working in IT.
A small number of publications have been donated to us by supporters and interviewees, and digitised versions of them can be viewed on our website, alongside other databases and websites hosted independently by people involved in the early years of the IT industry, that may be of use to researchers browsing our website.
The Archives Hub
AIT is a new archive, and non-traditional in that it has no geographical location and is digital only. As it develops, AIT is focusing on improving discovery of its collections on the internet.
As part of these plans, in 2022 we contributed an online resource description to the Archives Hub. This description is intended as a guide to AIT’s website, and it is hoped its presence on the Hub will increase the website’s use by academics and university students. The aim is to contribute a multi-level description of AIT’s collections to the Hub soon.
The Christian Brethren Archive (CBA) is part of the John Rylands Research Institute and Library Special Collections at The University of Manchester, England. The CBA is a world-class collection relating to the Brethren Movement and to congregations which have their roots in the Brethren tradition. This huge resource spans over 250 years and contains literature and records in many different languages in addition to English. The archive grew organically from a small collection of papers donated to the University in 1979 by the influential, evangelical scholar, F.F. Bruce (1910-90), Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at The University of Manchester. The CBA is a living archive, and today we receive communications, enquiries and gifts of material from all around the world.
The collection is managed by a full-time archivist whose work is overseen by an Advisory Group made up of historians and library professionals with Brethren interests and concerns.
Many of the Archive costs are funded through the kindness of private and charitable donations, the remainder are met by The University of Manchester.
Who Are The Christian Brethren?
The Brethren movement was formed by a group of independent Christian congregations who emerged out of Protestant Ireland in the 1820’s. Notable early members were John Nelson Darby (1800-82), Benjamin Wills Newton (1807-99) and George Müller (1805-98). Doctrinal differences caused a split in 1848 which led to the establishment of two distinct Brethren streams, the Exclusive Brethren who were led by John Nelson Darby and the Open Brethren who were led by George Müller. The Exclusive Brethren initially established themselves in Plymouth, Devon, England, giving rise to the group being known as the Plymouth Brethren. Both Brethren streams continue to flourish around the globe today.
What’s In The Archive?
Over 7,000 manuscripts, 18,000 rare books, pamphlets, and tracts, and some 400 series of periodicals, dating from the early nineteenth century to the present. As well as photographs, films, and audio recordings.
There are personal papers relating to personalities among the Brethren, such as founding members John Nelson Darby and Benjamin Wills Newton, as well as records relating to assemblies across the United Kingdom, such as the Church of God in Belfast, Northern Ireland (1897-2018). Important organisations and events are also represented, for example Echoes International (formerly Echoes of Service, missionary support agency) est. 1872, the Devonshire Conferences of 1906 and 1907 (which discussed the terms of fellowship between gatherings of Open and Exclusive Brethren), the Christian Brethren Research Fellowship for 1962–81, and the Swanwick conferences of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
We regularly collect born digital records, many of which are newsletters and periodicals. These are stored in our digital preservation system, Preservica and made accessible via University of Manchester Collections
The collection provides a rich resource for many disciplines including religion and theology, human geography, culture, history, politics and gender, as well as humanitarian studies and post colonialism.
Recent research has focussed on topics such as women and the Brethren, for example the writer and evangelist Grace Grattan Guinness (1877-1967). Grace documented her travels as she accompanied her husband, Henry Grattan Guinness, a well known orator, on a five-year preaching tour of the world whilst on their honeymoon!
We regularly hold events which aim to show the amazing breadth of material within the CBA. For example, using items from the George Müller archive we participated in the Histories of Care (March 2023). A collections encounter and public roundtable which reflected on the social care and experience of children throughout history and sought to understand how these histories might inform the shape of future childcare. George Müller was the founder and director of the Ashley Down Orphan Homes in Bristol, England. In his lifetime, he cared for 10,000 orphaned children.
Signs of the Times. Maps and Charts of History and Prophecy was a public talk and collections encounter (March 2023) which looked at Brethren thinking about ‘End Times’ or the end of the world and discussed texts and images of apocalyptic imagery from the 8th century to the present day. Led by historians Professor Crawford Gribben, Queen’s University, Belfast, and Dr Andrew Crome, Manchester Metropolitan University, the event provided a unique opportunity to see first-hand some of the CBA’s mysterious maps and charts of prophecy and to get an overview of their history and purpose. A selection of the maps and charts is on display in the Rylands Gallery at The John Rylands Research Institute and Library until 11 November 2023.
Jane Speller, Curator, Christian Brethren Archive Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Browse all The University of Manchester’s Special Collections descriptions to date on Archives Hub
In 1983 the government allocated the papers of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, the long serving politician and the premier soldier of his generation, to the University of Southampton under national heritage legislation. The collection arrived on 17 March of that year. This brought to Southampton the University’s first major manuscript collection, leading to the creation of an Archives Department and the development of a major strand of activity within the University Library.
Composed of around 100,000 items that cover the Duke’s career as a soldier, statesman and diplomat from 1790 to his death in 1852, the collection bears witness to great military, political and social events of the time. It is exceptional among the papers of nineteenth-century figures for its size and scope.
Wellington’s time in India, 1798-1805, when he made his fortune and his name as a military commander, is well represented by three series of letter books, the first two series arranged chronologically, with the third, covering 1802-5, arranged by correspondent. The sections for the Peninsular War (1808-14) and for the Waterloo campaign provide an unrivalled source for the history of British participation. The collection also includes Wellington’s correspondence and papers for the congresses at the end of the Napoleonic wars and the allied occupation of France, 1815-18, a period when Wellington was a major player on the European political scene.
Wellington was involved in politics throughout his career, serving as an MP in the Irish parliament in the 1780s onwards and as Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1807-9. There is considerable material for his political career post 1818, including two times as prime minister, as well as for his role as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and as Commander in Chief of the Army. Amongst the extensive number of cabinet papers, drafted in the Duke’s own hand is the memorandum written by Wellington and Peel setting out the details of the Catholic emancipation act of 1829. Material from his tenure as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire includes death threats from Captain Swing dating from the Swing riots around the southern counties of England.
As the archive is from the great age of government by correspondence, as well as coinciding with a wider revolution in communication, it contains material from a wide cross section of society. Everyone wrote to the Duke of Wellington, offering the national hero their views on a whole range of subjects, asking for patronage, promotion or assistance, wishing to dedicate their works to him, or asking him to be the godfather of their children or to be allowed to name them after him. In response to one letter, Wellington noted with his usual acerbic wit the inconvenience of calling all boys born on his birth by the name “Arthur”.
The arrival of the Wellington Archive in 1983 was significant in another way in that it marked the beginning of Southampton’s long involvement in automated archive catalogues. The Wellington Papers Database could claim to be one of, if the not the earliest, online archive catalogue in the UK. Investigations into a system to support this were already underway in December 1982, prior to the arrival of the papers. In July 1983 the University decided to develop a manuscript cataloguing system using STATUS software and it was in use for cataloguing material early the following year. The cataloguing was done “offline” by the archivists on BBC microcomputers equipped with rudimentary word-processing packages – but no memory – and all text was saved onto floppy discs. It was subsequently transferred to an ICL mainframe computer for incorporation into the database by batch programme. This being the days prior to the WWW, the initial database was made available by the Joint Academic Network (JANET) and the public switched telephone network. It was initially scheduled to be made available 156 hours a week, rising to 168. In 2023 the catalogue of the Wellington Archive can be accessed in the Epexio Archive Catalogue, a new system that we launched in November 2021.
The collection also came with a major conservation challenge – some ten percent of the collection was so badly damaged it was unfit to handle and in a parlous state. Considerable progress has been made in addressing this. Important material is now available for research, including for the Peninsular War, papers for 1822 (for the Congress of Verona) and for Wellington as Prime Minister in 1829. The badly degraded and mould-damaged bundles from 1832, significant as the time of the First Reform Act, are available for the first time since 1940.
The last forty years also has seen a great deal of outreach and activity focused on the Wellington Archive. As well as research and teaching sessions, drop-in sessions, events and exhibitions, the Archives Department has arranged six international Wellington congresses. In 2015 and 2017 Karen Robson and Professor Chris Woolgar presented a MOOC they had co-created relating to Wellington and Waterloo. And since 1989 there has been the annual Wellington Lecture with speakers or presenters ranging from Elizabeth Longford to Martin Carthy.
The collection charts the history of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, located at Beechenhurst Lodge in the heart of the Forest of Dean. In 1983, following the establishment of a sculpture trail in Exeter Forest, Martin Orrom (Forestry and Environment Officer, Forestry Commission) wrote a brief for the establishment of a sculpture trail in the Forest of Dean. The Elephant Trust provided £2,500 towards the project and in Spring 1984 around 20 artists were invited to visit the site and submit proposals for sculptures. Martin worked alongside Jeremy Rees (Founding Director of The Arnolfini, Bristol) and Rupert Martin (Curator at The Arnolfini). Six artists were chosen and these founding commissions were collectively titled “Stand and Stare”:
Peter Appleton – Sound Sculptures Kevin Atherton – Cathedral Andrew Darke – Sliced Log Star (Inside Out Tree) Magdalena Jetelova – Place David Nash – Black Dome/ Fire and Water Boats Keir Smith – The Iron Road
The trail was opened on 19 June 1986 by Sir David Montgomery, Chair of the Forestry Commission. By 1988, a second batch of sculptures had been installed including:
Bruce Allan – Observatory Zadok Ben David – As There Is No Hunting Tomorrow Miles Davies – House Ian Hamilton Finlay – Grove of Silence Tim Lees – The Heart of the Stone Cornelia Parker – Hanging Fire Peter Randall-Page – Cone and Vessel Sophie Ryder – Crossing Place/ Deer/Searcher
Since 1986, over 30 sculptures both temporary and permanent have been sited on the Sculpture Trail. The Forest is a living place, and the sculptures have come and gone leaving a mark on visitors and locals alike. Magdalena Jetelová’s ‘Place’, locally known as ‘Giant’s Chair’, was a huge chair sculpted from oak beams looking out over the landscape. It was originally planned as a temporary sculpture to be charcoaled in-situ, but this was deemed too dangerous. ‘Place’ remained on the trail for nearly 30 years before being decommissioned in 2015. It was dismantled and the wood turned to charcoal, reflecting one of the past industries of the forest, with the charcoal creating new artwork.
The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust was established in 1988 as a registered charity overseeing the maintenance of the trail and commissioning new works. The trail is owned and managed by Forestry England. Since 2011, the Trust has deposited the archive of the trail with the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham. Material covers both the administrative and artistic processes involved. Formats encompass documents, books and publications, leaflets, drawings, videos, a maquette and other ephemera. There is even part of the original bark from ‘Place’ and some of the charcoaled sculpture. The collection has proved popular with arts students both at the university and wider afield. Both the trail and the archive continue to grow as the landscape evolves.
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.
The later survey report for David Clark shows that the person in question took thisjob.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
(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.
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.
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 AManual 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Collection level descriptions for the BBC Broadcasting Company Papers and the Reith Special Collection are available to view on the 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.
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 byUniversity 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 byEdinburgh 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].
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.