Author Archives: wyaskirsty

Take flight!

November marks the launch of the 2009 Archive Awareness campaign. The theme this year is “take flight!”

On the theme of flight here is a short article by Tish at our Bradford office about some interesting entertainments in Peel Park, Bradford. The images are from Bradford Borough Council, Town Clerk, papers regarding Peel Park, 1D82.

Advertisement for acrobatic entertainer Signor Farinelli enclosed with letter dated 31 May 1856 from Charles Henry Brown explaining that Mr Coxwell will not be able to make an ascent from Bradford and that William Stewart could make the ascent with a new balloon, and suggesting an ascent by Madame Rossini or Signor Farinelli. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Bradford: 1D82/3/4

Peel Park was the first publicly owned park in Bradford. Sir Robert Peel died in 1850 and a meeting was held in Bradford to discuss how he could be commemorated; it was agreed that a park would be a fitting memorial. A Central Committee of the Bradford Public Park Movement was set up which in turn organised District Committees. Land for the park was purchased during the 1850s but it took twelve years to pay off the debts incurred in buying the land and laying it out as a park. A donation of £1,500 was made by the Government and donations of £1,000 were received from Milligan, Forbes and Company and from Titus Salt. There were also numerous private subscriptions and some of the documents in this collection refer to the need to canvass for subscriptions.

In addition galas were held at the Park to raise money for the Park Fund; various attractions were ‘hired’ by the Committee and some of the letters and agreements in this collection refer to entertainers and to a proposed balloon ascent by Mr Coxwell. The agreements also made provision for indoor venues in case of inclement weather (poor summers are obviously nothing new!).

 

Newspaper advertisement for Madam Rossini’s act enclosed with a letter from Charles H Brown dated 2 Jun 1856 regarding Madam Rossini's performance at Peel Park. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Bradford: 1D82/3/5

Firework displays were also a feature of the galas; unfortunately in 1863 the promised “Eruption of Mount Vesuvius and Fall of Herculaneum” was a great disappointment and produced very little light. As the park had a lake there were also aquatic displays and one entertainer was pulled across the lake in a washtub drawn by geese. He also arranged for some nymphs to be pulled across the lake by swans but apparently the accompanying fireworks smoked so much that the nymphs could not be seen (one of the letter books in this collection contains a reference to a request for two swans).

The profits from the gala held in 1863 finally wiped out all the debts and the park was handed over to the Bradford Corporation. However the galas continued to be held (profits were given to Bradford Hospitals) and some of the letters in this collection refer to negotiations with railway companies for excursion trains and special fares for visitors to the galas. The final gala was held in1936; by that time people were able to travel further afield for their entertainment.

You can find out more about the archive awareness campaign at http://www.archiveawareness.com/

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West Riding County Architect’s department

As well as containing plans and photographs of schools, court houses and other council and public buildings, the records of the West Riding County Architect’s department contains a number of photographs of the new architect’s department buildings at Bishopsgarth, Wakefield.

Many of the photos have captions pasted on the back. Here are a couple of photos and their captions which I particularly like:

25 Aug 1950, Photographer: Pete Lowe, Wakefield (WRD4/21)

The MIRACLE WORKERS: full steam ahead for the 1951 Festival of Britain, the wonder team gets on with the job of the second instalment for the new County Architect’s Dept at Wakefield. Picture shows Mr Hubert Bennett, WR County Architect wearing the white jumper (responsible for the revolutionary design) having an on-the-spot consultation, with (left to right) bricklayer George Kemp, labourer Clarry Barraclough, brick-layer foreman Geoffrey Garbett, and his son Geoffrey Arthur Garbett.

The MIRACLE WORKERS: full steam ahead for the 1951 Festival of Britain, the wonder team gets on with the job of the second instalment for the new County Architect’s Dept at Wakefield. Picture shows Mr Hubert Bennett, WR County Architect wearing the white jumper (responsible for the revolutionary design) having an on-the-spot consultation, with (left to right) bricklayer George Kemp, labourer Clarry Barraclough, brick-layer foreman Geoffrey Garbett, and his son Geoffrey Arthur Garbett.

FILES BY THE THOUSAND: The new County Architect’s headquarters at Wakefield has not recovered from “The Great Flit”. In the library, detailed plans for the county’s 1500 schools have had to be stacked until other arrangements can be made.

FILES BY THE THOUSAND: The new County Architect’s headquarters at Wakefield has not recovered from “The Great Flit”. In the library, detailed plans for the county’s 1500 schools have had to be stacked until other arrangements can be made.

West Riding County Council records

The Collections Team are currently working on the records of the West Riding County Council (WRCC).

The West Riding County Council (based at County Hall, Wakefield) administered public services in the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1889 to 1974. The major responsibilities of the West Riding County Council were education, health, welfare, highways, libraries, police and fire services, planning, smallholdings, and the registry of deeds.

This is a large, complex collection. The collection takes up about 57 M3 of space –  that’s nearly 3000 archive boxes of material relating to all aspects of the WRCC’s work.

The County Council was structured around committees and departments. The committees were involved in policy and decision-making whereas the departments carried out the day-to-day administration. Some departments such as the Clerk’s Department and the Treasurer’s Departments carried out administrative work on behalf of a number of departments.

Each committee or department is listed separately, and in order to arrange the final catalogue we have had to ascertain which records were created by which committee or department.

Particularly tricky is discovering where material was created by a department and where it was created by the Clerk’s department. It is important to know who created a record as it needs to be seen in the context of other records created alongside it to make sense. In this instance the process was made easier because Jenny and Helen had previously been through all the accessions paperwork from when the WRCC collection was deposited in the archives. We were also helped a lot by finding some speeches in the collection written by the WRCC Clerk himself which talk at length about the role of the Clerk’s department and its responsibilities.

The Collections Team have some experience of cataloguing clerk’s papers. Over the past couple of years we have been involved in the cataloguing various Town Clerk’s departments (see previous post) as well as some initial work on the WRCC Clerk’s records. These borough clerk’s departments operated on a sectional basis and therefore follow to some smaller degree a structure very similar to that of the Clerks Department of the West Riding.

Now in August we have almost completed listing the departmental records. After listing the remaining Clerk’s Department records (about another 700 + boxes worth!) we will have a full overview of all the WRCC material. We will then be able to concentrate on the way in which the material is arranged and how to make it easily searchable. Watch this space for further updates…

Welcome to the Catablogue…

Calling all historians, genealogists, archivists and anyone with an interest in history or the preservation of historical records!

This is a space for us to share information about the wonderful archive collections held at West Yorkshire Archive Service and update you on our cataloguing progress.

The Archive Service holds and preserves historical records of all kinds dating from the twelfth century to the present day on behalf of the 5 West Yorkshire local authorities – that’s over 4200 cubic metres of archive collections!

So sorting and listing them all, as you can imagine, is a major task!

Luckily many of our collections have been listed in the past, however, these were not always catalogued in a user-friendly way, so making old catalogues easier to use is also part of our job. In the past, most archival catalogues were paper-based meaning they could only be viewed in person at at our archive offices. Therefore, staff are involved in “retroconvering” old catalogues onto our  cataloguing database CALM so that they can be viewed on our online catalogue.

Hopefully the Catablogue will provide an insight into our collections work; what we do and how we do it…

Initially posts will be mainly by the WYAS Collections Team i.e. Kirsty, Jenny and Helen and our Collections Manager Alexandra, but in the future you can expect posts from all our staff about the interesting collections-based activities they are involved in.