"Our day" for the conservators at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre is always interesting.
A common job within our object lab is removal of corrosion from archaeological finds.
This Roman coin, from a hoard of over 1200, is having its corrosion painstakingly removed using a scalpel under magnification, ready for display at Athelstan Museum.
This video shows a piece of thin Japanese tissue being shaped and cut to support a weak area of paper. This is done by placing the tissue on top of some thick polyester and tracing the shape using a needle. It is then adhered to the back of the document using gelatin. Gelatin is not always used but in this case the document has a type of ink called Iron Gall ink that is best treated with gelatin rather than other types of adhesives. A release paper is then smoothed over the top before the area is sandwiched with blotter and weighted down to aid drying.
If you would like to find out more about conserving and caring for your own family photographs, keepsakes and treasures book onto one of our FREE Conservation Surgeries held at WSHC every month. For more information contact the help desk on 01249 705500 (Tues-Sat 9.30-5pm).
3878/5 Detail from the cover of a school magazine from Burderop Park Training College
Since our last acquisitions update the shelves of our archives have continued to swell with new archives. Here is a brief overview of just a few of the new collections deposited between July and September.
Burderop Emergency Training College was established in Chiseldon in1946 by the County Council’s Education Committee. This was one of a number of colleges providing one-year teacher training courses principally to ex-service personnel (exclusively men) to address the shortfall in teachers following the Second World War. Burderop had the capacity to train over 200 men a year. The college proved highly effective, and the principal’s files detail the names of many students and the posts they were subsequently appointed to. As with all Emergency Training Colleges, Burdeop was comparatively short-lived, closing its’ doors in 1950. Nonetheless their archive (collection reference 3678) gives us a vivid account of their activities through a series of Principal’s Reports, college magazines and newspaper articles. The collection also includes programmes from open days, and from the college’s Dramatic Society. There is even the typescript from a broadcast on Norwegian radio, plus group photographs of students and staff.
The Wilton Floral Society (collection reference 3678C) was established in 1969 as a breakaway group from the successful Salisbury Floral Arrangement Society, enabling members to meet closer to home. The group was set up by the then Mayoress of Wilton Irene Hudson, and Lady Pembroke of Wilton House agreed to be their President. The society took part in a series of instruction workshops, not just on flower arranging but also related skills such as creating corn dollies. Their scrapbooks contain many of their prize certificates as well as local newspaper articles featuring their displays. The collection also includes photograph albums focusing on two of their major projects; In September 1986 the Society held a Harvest Flower Festival at the redundant Church of St Mary, in aid of the Wilton Church Appeal. The second album concerns their displays at St Peter’s Church, Fugglestone. This album is undated (perhaps mid-1980s) and includes details of which members were responsible for each display.
The North Wiltshire Centre of the National Trust was established in 1971 to arrange lectures and visits for members, as well as working to recruit new members for the Trust at a local level. One of its earliest projects was to fundraise for restoration work at Lacock Abbey. The group later spread geographically to become the North and West Wiltshire National Trust Association. Their archive (reference 3678B) includes meeting minutes and correspondence which document their range of activities. The accompanying series of newsletters are also of interest to local historians as they collate updates on local Trust projects, such as landscaping and property conservation.
Our considerable collection from Devizes Town Council has been further enhanced with a broad range of papers. One file details the redevelopment of the Brittox area of the town in the 1980s (3332/68). Elsewhere there’s a programme from an event to mark the presentation of New Colours to the Wiltshire Regiment in Bangalore in 1939 (3332/71). There are also files on a series of events giving the Freedom of the Borough of Devizes to various former mayors, councillors and local worthies. These files provide biographical information on each honouree as well as highlighting the research and consideration given to the festivities, such as invitees, speeches and ceremonial gifts (3332/72-76).
In July we received a substantial addition to our collection of records of the Freemason Lodge of Friendship and Unity 1271, Bradford-on-Avon (reference 2592a). This accrual consists of over a hundred years of meeting minutes (1884-2017) and financial and membership ledgers (1869-1988), plus administration files (1920s-2010) and ceremonial certificates. This collection complements our other freemasons collections from lodges across the county. As well as providing much information on the activities of the lodge, the collection also includes a file of historical notes on masonic ceremonies and rituals.
We have also recently received a single ledger relating to Slade's Brewery, which was located on Union St here in Chippenham. The ledger (reference 3571B) is a beer and mineral day book, covering the years 1924 to 1926. It records of the names of pubs supplied by Slade’s and the names of licensees, and as such supplies the researcher with much local information.
The West Lavington branch of the British Legion have deposited a set of their minutes and accounts covering the dates 1953 to 2009 (collection reference 3558D). The minutes record the various good works undertaken by the group, such as visiting the sick and allocating funds to those in need. The collection complements numerous other British Legion collections deposited here from across the county.
Swindon Borough Council’s Highway Record Department have donated a series of ledgers concerning the apportionment of the cost of making up private streets. These 5 volumes list the owners of properties on each street and the monies they contributed to upgrade their road. In many cases these improvements led to the street becoming a designated highway. The volumes (reference numbers G24/701/287 to G24/701/291) cover the years 1895 to 1972. Our collection of poor law records for the county has been enhanced by the acquisition of three out-door relief lists covering the parishes of Collingbourne and Netheravon, part of Pewsey Union. These volumes (reference H13/170/1H) cover 1905 and 1906, and record the names of individuals receiving relief from the parish (referred to as ‘paupers’) plus the amounts paid each week. Similarly we have received a parochial poor rate valuation book for the parish of Enford, which was also part of the Pewsey Union. This volume (H13/130/2B) is broad in scope, covering the period 1891 to 1914. It was used to record the name of the owner and occupier for each property or area of land plus its rateable value, and an estimate of its size. These additions are therefore useful tools not just for family historians, but also those interested in the history of these parishes. It is heartening that such acquisitions come our way over a hundred years since they ceased to serve their original purpose.
The Devizes and District U3A group have undertaken interesting research at Lacock Abbey, and kindly deposited their results with us (2664/2/2E/9). This includes biographies of each of the owners of the abbey from Ela, Countess of Salisbury in the Thirteenth Century up to the present ownership by the National Trust. There is also a file of research on Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Domestic Matters, wherein the group have uncovered many recipes and remedies from the Abbey archives. These recipes are mainly herb-based but also include liberal use of alcohol. These certainly sound more palatable than those involving worms, snails or soot from the stove. The same U3A group has also undertaken further research at Lacock Abbey, in conjunction with the National Trust. This time their efforts were focused on the Abbey’s grotto, waterway and old water gardens. The resulting reports and correspondence can be found under reference 2664/2/2H/9.
We have also received a second deposit of records regarding the noted architect Robert Townsend (collection reference 2806). This furthers our collection of company correspondence, architectural plans and project specifications. Townsend’s design skills were utilised in domestic, industrial and ecclesiastical buildings in Wiltshire and beyond. The collection also includes a scrapbook containing images from newspaper cuttings, photographs and postcards considered of interest by Townsend. Interestingly, this volume reuses a school register for 1918/19, and pupils’ progress reports are still visible on certain pages. Sadly its impossible to know which school the register came from, but we would love to find out. No acquisitions update would be complete without mention of the Women’s Institute, and yet again different groups have generously deposited their records here at the History Centre. The WIs of Christian Malford and Foxham (3467B), Broad Town (1742B) and Boxlea (3707A) have each contributed new accruals. These collections typically contain a range of meeting minutes and record books, plus programmes or scrapbooks from their numerous events. Similarly we have received numerous accruals to our collection of parish records. The parish councils of Maiden Bradley (4167), Hornhinsham (4168), Worton (4349), Potterne (3041), Castel Combe (1642), Christian Malford (4422), Southwick (1375) and Chute (4464) have all made new deposits with us.
This is just a selection of our new arrivals. As always, we are grateful to all our donors for adding their collections to our archives. Further details of these and the rest of our holdings can be found on our archive catalogue. The collections themselves are available to browse in our reading room.
Woollen Industry Processes: How cloth was made firstly in people’s houses then by machinery in factories, K.H. Rogers, 2019 AAA.677 Trowbridge Museum in Association with the Friends of Trowbridge Museum ISBN 9781645161967 98 pages
The publication has been designed to describe all processes of cloth making for visitors to Trowbridge Museum, first appearing as two pamphlets in 2000 and 2008 but the scope of this newly published version is now much wider.
Ken Rogers has taken a novel approach, using a 1749 account of cloth processes, found in the Stourhead archives at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre as the backbone of the book, quotations being used at the beginning of each chapter. These are extremely effective, adding context and a sense of history to the information which follows.
With an eye-catching front cover, Woollen Industry Processes is image-rich, packed full of interesting views of cloth workers, machinery, processes, locations and more.
Key terms are explained and the processes are followed step-by-step. The change from domestic to factory production is addressed and the industry is looked at on a county-wide scale, although understandably the focus is on the Trowbridge mills. Interesting information includes the work of the scribblers and the ‘sheer’ size of the shears used on the nap.
An enjoyable read, great to dip into and informative but also succinct, Woollen Industry Processes contains a wealth of information and superb images which complement the text.
Recommended for those with a little to no knowledge of the industry but have an interest in discovering more about how cloth was produced.
Available from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and Trowbridge Library ref: AAA.677
Julie Davis County Local Studies Librarian Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Could you help to record the memories of your local community?
This year the Royal Air Force Museum is launching the RAF Stories Big Weekend, taking place across the country on Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 November 2019. It will be here at the Wiltshire and History Centre on Saturday the 30 November 2019 10am-4pm.
The RAF Stories Big Weekend gives the public their chance to visit a local venue and have their memories, or their family stories recorded by a team of volunteers. This national weekend will see the capture of hundreds of stories relating to the Royal Air Force across the country.
We are looking for volunteers who can welcome members of the public and record their stories using the RAF Stories app.
Jewellery has been a part of life since prehistoric times. Examples can be found from archaeological digs as grave goods adorning the deceased to signify their status or position in society. Although jewellery may have started as practical objects such as brooches or fibulae, the ancient equivalent of a safety pin, over time increased skills in metal work allowed more ornate items to be created. Combined with precious stones, these more elaborate designs were used to ornament every part of the body, protecting the wearer against life’s dangers or marking their status.
On the whole, jewellery today is seen as the finishing touch to an outfit, or reserved for special occasions. However, they still hold the same significance in modern day life, whether gifted from a loved one holding personal importance or a large expensive engagement ring showing off the social status of your betrothed. As with anything precious, we all want to know how best to take care of it.
At the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre we are holding a talk on how to do exactly that. Kayleigh Spring from the Conservation and Museums Advisory Service (part of Wiltshire Council) will talk you through the basics in jewellery care. Focusing predominately on silver, Kayleigh will discuss why that tarnish layer might be protecting your jewellery, what materials to avoid when cleaning and packing your jewellery in storage, and demonstrate how to effectively clean and polish without eroding details. But here are some quick tips to keep your jewellery dazzling:
1. Put Polishing on Probation Although it’s sometimes necessary to give jewellery a polish to maintain its lustre, polishivng too often can erode the surface of the metal potentially removing important patterns and details. 2. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness If you have an item of jewellery you only wear on special occasions try to ensure it is clean before packing it back into your jewellery box. Build-up of dirt can increase the chance of corrosion and tarnish. 3. Keep Your Mitts Off Acids and oils on our fingers tips can eat into the surface of the metal leaving finger print marks. Try to ensure your hands are recently cleaned and dried before handling your jewellery.
To find out more, why not join Kayleigh in the conservation lab on 20th November between 2 to 3pm. Booking required in advance at £4 per ticket by contacting the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre helpdesk on 01249 705500.
The Conservation and Museums Advisory Service (CMAS) aims to promote excellence in the care and use of collections by providing conservation advice and practical treatments to heritage organisations and the public. It also supports museums in Wiltshire to meet professional standards and become sustainable.
If you would like conservation advice about your own documents or objects, we hold a free ‘Conservation Surgery’ on the 2nd Thursday of every month (please book in advance through the WSHC helpdesk – 01249 705500)