Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update 10 December 2020

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
Staffordshire Record Office name plaque

Welcome to the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service Newsletter. We are getting into the Christmas mood in this issue. 
Staffordshire Record Office has now reopened. Visits are strictly by appointment only. For full details please go to the Planning Your Visit page on our website


Victoria County History

Uttoxeter Volunteer Group: News, December 2020

The volunteer group researching Uttoxeter and its hinterland for the next VCH volume has continued to meet virtually throughout the Covid-19 period. We have had to postpone our work on Uttoxeter’s charities until ‘normality’ resumes, but in the meantime we have put our energy into research that can be undertaken online. Most recently we have begun a project on the 1851 census, which has initially involved transcribing elements of the census returns for Uttoxeter parish into Excel spreadsheets prepared for the purpose. The volunteers have nearly completed this task, and we are looking forward to using the data to carry out various analyses of Uttoxeter’s population. We hope to investigate family structure, trades, places of birth, poverty and other topics, and will publicise some of the results in discussions and maps for the project blog. We will also attempt to start placing the information into a broader context, bringing in other forms of evidence and later census returns to identify trends over time. The parish of Uttoxeter is notable for its large rural hinterland around the town, and questions concerning the links between town and country, and how one affected the other over time, will also loom large. We hold two-weekly meetings online, providing much-needed contact and an opportunity for discussion. As ever, we welcome new volunteers who would like to get involved (please contact

From the Collections

Series of winter themed glove puppets
Father Christmas Puppet

Christmas Puppets

Some Christmas cheer from the puppet collection. The puppets are all part of a collection bought together by Douglas Hayward. He not only made puppets but collected hundreds of puppets from around the world, dating back to the early 1800s. Douglas established the Puppet Theatre Museum in Abbots Bromley in 1975 to house his wonderful collection. When the theatre closed in 1993 the collection moved to the Staffordshire County Museum at Shugborough, where Douglas continued to help and advise until his death in December 2011. The collection is now based at the County Museum Stores.

These lovely winter glove puppets were collected by Ted Harold during the late 1960's, but the female maker’s name is unknown. The snowman is a rod puppet whose head moves. They look like they’re ready for a snowball fight!

Father Christmas was made by Waldo Lanchester, who was at the forefront of the British revival in popularity of the string puppet. This marionette was originally made as a policeman and he still wears his blue uniform underneath the cloak. It is one of several puppets made by Waldo Lanchester from the collection that is on display at Bantock House in Wolverhampton.

Wheeling board game illustrated with Edwardian figures and bicycles

The Wheeling Game (89.013.0002)

Game On!

Our board game this week is unlikely to be one you remember. Made in 1895 it is called ‘Wheeling’. The game was donated to the museum in 1989 and the donor’s father remembered playing it with his five brothers before 1900. There was a bicycle craze in the UK in the 1890’s when the safety bicycle had become much more affordable. Cycling transformed people’s lives. They could travel further than ever before, rural villages were connected, people could escape the city, and businesses could use them for transport. For women the bicycle was a freedom they had never experienced before; to travel unaccompanied and to wear suitable clothing, although still often ridiculed, was a huge step forward. It is no wonder that popular home entertainment at this time was based on the latest trend.

Wheeling comes with metal figures on bicycles as counters, two die and cards to pick up on the way round. It works a bit like snakes and ladders; as you can see there are lots of obstacles in your path such as tacks that might burst your tyres, locked gates and policemen. The aim is to make it to the Anchor Inn in Ripley which became the end of a popular cycling route from London in the 1870’s. The inn still exists today.

Children's bookmark



Little Surprises

Our Collections Assistant, Melanie has been working at the William Salt Library on the National Lottery Heritage Funded Staffordshire History Centre project, repackaging some significant library collections.

Mel has been using archive materials to repackage folders of notes, photographs and slides from large bodies of work. She has also been recording content details and then packing them into new archival quality boxes with detailed labels. The project will end in February.

Whilst working Mel has found several nice surprises, including this child’s handmade bookmark from the 150th anniversary of Ilam School in 2004.

The Learning Room Header image - desks in a library setting

The Learning Room

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