Over a decade ago the West Yorkshire Archive Service created the Community Archive Network Group as part of a National Lottery Heritage funded project ‘West Yorkshire: Our Stories’. The purpose of the network group was to offer guidance, support and training for the wonderful community archives across the region, many of which are run by volunteers. The network has gone from strength to strength over the years and meets around 3 times a year at different venues across West Yorkshire, hosted by a different member group each time. The brilliant archive team at Sunny Bank Mills hosted the most recent meeting.
Aptly it was incredibly sunny at Sunny Bank Mills during our visit! After some coffee and delicious homemade cake (it’s never too early for chocolate!) in the gallery tea room, we walked across the site to their archives.
Their archive contains the history of the mill through textiles and objects including over 60,000 lengths of cloth, 8000 fabric designs and 5000 dye cards! Covering around 200 years of textile history in West Yorkshire, it’s a truly significant collection. We had a wonderful time walking through the archive and viewing the different records on display including guard books (which contain textile cuttings). The archive is open to visitors on an appointment basis, you can find out more on their website here.
Our Audience Engagement & Learning Coordinator provided updates about the recent projects taking place at the West Yorkshire Archive Service including the Anne Lister – In Her Words exhibition. We also provided an update about our Kirklees office which will be closing shortly to be moved to a new site.
The Sunny Bank Mill archive team then told us more about their Weaving the Web project which involves working with the local West Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre Powerhouse and digitising records to be made accessible on the Sunny Bank Mills website. You can find out more about this fantastic project on their blog here.
There was then plenty of time to catch up with network members, and find out what was happening at other community archives across the region.
We’re looking forward to the Autumn network meeting already!
If you look after a community archive and are interested in joining the network group please contact the Audience Engagement team at email@example.com for more information.
Dominique, Audience Engagement Archive Assistant