Gravitational pull of the History Centre?
For many years my colleagues and I have been aware of the phenomenon of gravitational pull of the History Centre, whereby over time archives tend to find their way into our custody. A good example of this occurred this week. A number of records collected by a past president of Melksham Historical Association were brought to the History Centre by his daughter (ref 2145A). These largely comprised 20th cent miscellaneous items relating to the town. However, one item stood out as of particular interest; two sections from an account book of the mid 18th century. Their contents suggested that they were kept a grocer and clothier, and that they were from separate books. A typed note with them stated that they had been found at Stratton’s premises when they were being pulled down. Stratton and Mead was a long established grocer’s business in the High Street, Melksham. A search on our catalogue revealed that we had a series of account books that had been identified as belonging to the Bourne family of Melksham, wine merchants, grocers and drapers that were deposited in 1975 by W Stratton.
Comparison of the ‘new’ material revealed that a section covering the week beginning 17 Nov 1764 came from one of the books already here, and it has been returned to its rightful place. It was possible to re-arrange the folios of the other section by matching up the water stains in the folds. It is all that remains of an earlier volume, which on close inspection appears to be the accounts of Joseph Udall, a grocer and clothier. They had been seen by economic historian, Julia de Lacy Mann, who referred to it in her account of The Cloth Industry in the West of England, 1640-1880.
Steve Hobbs, Archivist