October edition of the Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
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Welcome to the latest e-newsletter from the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service. 

It has been a busy month. This edition features projects based on the Poor Law, Doulton Figurines, new look corsets, the VCH and the work of our volunteers.

Our aim is to keep you updated with the latest developments and events. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter please use the 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of this page.

Flood and Drought Project

Are you able to help? 

The Flood and Drought project is looking for volunteers to examine two sets of eighteenth century mill accounts from Burton-on-Trent and Stafford to reconstruct expenses and grain prices over short (roughly five year) periods. It will involve transcribing the accounts into a spreadsheet.

Both sets of accounts are in English, although one has some messy handwriting but help will be offered if there are any difficulties.

If you are interested in this chance to explore some of the history of Staffordshire’s mills and develop palaeography skills you can contact the team through the Flood and Drought blog.


Closure of Lichfield Record Office

Lichfield Record Office will close to the public on 1 January 2018. In January and February the archive collections will be prepared for transfer to Stafford, and the move will take place in March. Work will continue in Stafford in April to locate the collections and to update our online catalogue. Some collections will be held at the Service’s outstore in Stafford. Where this is the case the catalogue will show that 48 hours’ notice is required. This is also currently the case for some collections held by Staffordshire Record Office. Staff will also receive training about the collections, so that they can provide appropriate advice to enquirers. The collections will be fully available for consultation in May 2018. For further detail contact: staffordshire.archives@staffordshire.gov.uk.

As a place of deposit for Public Records we have been working with the National Archives on regulatory issues concerning the closure. We are working with the Library Service concerning the Archives and Heritage Service’s history access point in the new Lichfield Library, and concerning the future of the local studies collection at Lichfield Library. We have also kept the Office’s depositors informed through depositor events

Bills from the project

Small Bills and Petty Finance

From January 2018 the Staffordshire Archives Service and Keele University will be able to use funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to continue research on the Old Poor Law.  The law provided support for those too poor to make ends meet, and the project will unfold and catalogue some of the ephemeral scraps of paper that so far have been kept in unused bundles.  These scraps mainly comprise receipts for groceries, fuel, medicines or other things supplied to the poor, but sometimes include letters, memoranda or even graffiti.  Archival volunteers are central to this work, as there is just too much paper for one researcher to handle.  Professor Alannah Tomkins says ‘This is a fantastic opportunity to understand more about the way people worked for and with the poor law: we couldn’t have attempted it without volunteers’ hard work and enthusiastic support from the archives’.  The project will last three years and will involve study days in Stafford, so watch this space!

Sarah Bradshaw putting together corsets for the To Die For? exhibition

A Costume Exhibition to Die For? 

Costume and Display Technician Sarah Bradshaw has been hard at work constructing corsets and crinolines for the new 'To Die For?' exhibition which opens at the Ancient High House, Stafford on 21 November. Sarah has created two sets of items one for adults and one for children, to try on as part of the exhibition which explores the dangerous side of fashion in the 19th and 20th centuries. Sarah has modernised the design using the clips found on rucksacks as an alternative to the tight lacing and metal fasteners favoured by our Victorian predecessors. The colours are a bit brighter too! The exhibition features costume and accessories from the County Museum Collections and will run until 30 December. For more details visit the Ancient High House website 

Victoria County History Study Day

Victoria County History Study Day 

Looking for Staffordshire’s Anglo-Saxon Saints, Saturday 2 December 2017

10.30am-4.00pm, Staffordshire Record Office, Eastgate Street,  Stafford 

Join our speakers for the 2017 study day. Dr Andrew Sargent will speak about St Chad and the Early Medieval Church in Staffordshire and also Aethelflaed's Saints and the Revival of Mercia. 

We will also be joined by Dr Nigel Tringham on the subject of St Edith of Tamworth and Dr Philip Morgan on St Wulfhad of Stone. 

Bookings in advance only. Tickets £10.00. For booking information visit our website or call 01785 278380

The 'Sarah' figurine by Royal Doulton, 1993

Doulton Described: Fabulous Figurines!      

The Royal Doulton Archive Collection contains 355 volumes and folders of newspaper cuttings which have now been catalogued. Together they form a detailed history of the activities and development of the company between 1892 and 2001. During that period the company "have at one time or another made almost everything that can be made from clays and other ceramic materials” (Desmond Eyles, 'Royal Doulton 1815-1965')

Yet perhaps the items which are popularly associated with the name Royal Doulton today are the figurines produced by the company. Modeller and later Art Director Charles J. Noke began creating Doulton figures in the 1890s and their production continues today. Michael Doulton worked for the company for over 40 years, travelling around the world as a brand Ambassador. There is an unusual booklet put together by a grateful department store in Lowestoft which documented (with many photographs) Michael Doulton's very successful visit back in 1993. The associated newspaper article titled 'Sarah Makes it a Day to Remember' recorded, "At the end of this special one-day event, the store reported that takings for the figurine had exceeded £21,000."

The Royal Doulton Archive Collection will not be accessible for at least the next year, while it is being ordered and catalogued, but we shall keep you updated about what we discover along the way and how we are progressing.

Bob dressed as architect Samuel Wyatt for a film about the Park Farm, Shugborough

Volunteer Spotlight

Bob Metcalfe has been a volunteer at the Staffordshire County Museum‘s office at Shugborough for around 4½ years. He can usually be found working on the Staffordshire Past Track website on Monday afternoons and all day on Thursdays.

 "I took early retirement five years ago after 35 years in HR for an international company. Whilst there are many things to do and places to go, I consider it is very important to have some milestones in each week or month and donate some time on a fixed basis for a particular interest. Getting out and about in the fresh air, going for walks and pub lunches, gardening, day trips or holidays, attending courses and learning a new language or other new skills are things to consider, however, it’s also important to be regularly mixing with people of various ages and from different backgrounds.

Volunteering with the County Museum’s team was initially a very different world to be in, but from day one they all made me very welcome and continue to do so.

My tasks involve selecting and scanning negatives or photographs from the museum’s collection or from items on temporary loan from people who are interested in the Past Track website.  Once scanned I then use Photoshop to bring out the best for each image and to provide a great picture for our Past Track viewers to look at. Additionally I need to create a caption to sit alongside each picture and if possible try to provide details of: who, what, where, why and when. Sometimes there is relevant information or maybe only just a brief comment to use and then I research the item to discover any more material for the caption. On completion of each item I send them into the moderation queue for editing or loading directly into Past Track.

I still find that it is like looking into an amazing box of delights when I explore the museum's photographic collection. The variety of subjects that I have worked on is for me endlessly fascinating with postcards, negatives, glass negatives and photographs of people and places around the county, presentations, traction engines, buses, street scenes, people at work in retail or various industries, farming, airplanes, ships, trains, shopping centres etc.

There have been some highlights along the way.

I enjoyed working on a collection of old glass negatives many taken in the 1940’s of people at work along with products being manufactured in the electrical power industry at the former English Electric factory on the Lichfield Road Site in Stafford, which later became GEC, then Alstom and currently GE.

Another highlight was to be asked to take part in the museum’s film Mr Anson and Mr Wyatt. This film tells the story of the creation of Shugborough Park Farm around 1803-1805.  It was great taking part and working alongside a professional film team. The finished film is still on show for visitors to the Park Farm and the film is also on YouTube.

I was pleased to contact Country Life magazine and arrange with them to forward a wonderful collection of old photographs of the interiors of Beaudesert Hall which were taken in November 1919 for their magazine.  The Hall which stood on Cannock Chase was demolished in 1935 and only fragments remain on the site. Many of the pictures we received had not been on show since they were first published and for me it was terrific to upload these onto Past Track for everyone to view. I think that the Long Gallery and the State Bedroom photographs are amazing.

Currently I’m selecting and scanning negatives from a collection donated to the museum by the Stafford photographer Tony Boyden.

During my time at the museum to date I consider myself privileged to be involved with Past Track and find that I get immense satisfaction from the work. Also it’s great to be working with Chris Copp and his team of very professional people.

My last comment on retirement is do not retire! Find something you enjoy and go for it." 

Events and Exhibitions

Staffordshire Archives News


Staffordshire Archives News


Staffordshire Archives News


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