Our crowdfunding campaign is going well, over £1000 reached so far – visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-herberts-weymouth/? to see how you can help and what rewards you could be entitled to.
Great support for our crowdfunding campaign so far – over £350 donated in the first few hours! Thank you to everyone who has supported so far.
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The latest by purchase by the DAT Emergency Purchase Fund are some photographs of Poole Power Station at the end of its construction in 1950. The black and white photos include internal views of the boilers and control room. Poole Power Station was a coal fired power station constructed between 1946 and 1950 in Hamworthy. It was demolished between 1993 and 1994. More detail at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poole_Power_Station. The collection reference number is D-2858.
It was a mild October evening when a packed house gathered at the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne to listen to Lynda Price give a fascinating talk on the lost village of Tyneham. Lynda has worked at Tyneham since 2004 and is responsible for all the interpretation visitors encounter when they visit as well as the restoration of Tyneham Farm. Using images purchased jointly by the MoD and Dorset Archives Trust, now preserved at Dorset History Centre, she give a glimpse into a lost world. Lynda has used a range of sources as well as photographs such as Lillian Bond’s diaries and has a put together a range of exhibitions and displays at Tyneham to help the public get a better understanding of this iconic village.
Using a wide range of photos and anecdotes the audience were taken through the story of the village through its evacuation in 1943 and up to the present day. It is always a delight to hear a knowledgeable and interesting speaker and it is wonderful to know that the Dorset History Centre supported by the Dorset Archives Trust is able to save these records for future generations
Here at the DAT we love to support our friends at the History Centre, with things that make it easier for them to share our love of Dorset history with everyone – so we asked them to make a shopping list of things they would like and this is what they came up with:
Funding a school trip £80 per trip
An artist to work with a development group to design a template for responding to a document using the visual arts – £1200
Digital microform reader£2150 or £3750
Conservation Work Station – Hot Air Pencil – £299.50
Microscope Digital Kit – £289.05
Dial Micrometer – £152.37
3m x 2m wall mounted BeamWall for the conservation of maps and oversized paper items. – £10,000
Complete digitisation of Herbert Collection – £25,000 main collection – £10,000 portraits
Lenses for the Nikon camera – £300 – £1,000
A lot of these things are very technical bits of equipment for preserving documents and archives that could be just falling apart in front of us.
The Archives Trust are delighted to say that as a result of our fundraising efforts we have already agreed to fund 5 school trips and give £1,000 towards some of the equipment needed. If you would like to donate to help us fund the rest, you can donate here or get in touch.
DAT SUMMER GALA EVENT AT THE TITHE BARN HINTON ST. MARY STURMINSTER NEWTON (by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Pitt-Rivers).
The wonderful setting of the Tithe Barn, at Hinton St Mary set the scene for this year’s Summer Gala.
After a glass of fizz with strawberries and shortbread; the background live music being provided by members of the Wessex Youth Orchestra around 60 guests took their seats for this year’s Summer Lecture which was introduced by the Dorset Archives Trust Patron, Kate Adie.
The guest speaker for this year’s summer event was James Grasby, Curator of the National Trust and his lecture was entitled Thomas Hardy and Sir Edward Elgar- Curating Lives. A thought provoking and often humorous talk followed with James taking the audience through the birthplaces of both Hardy and Elgar and indicating that their genius perhaps started at these places; both of these properties now in the care of the National Trust. Elgar loved his birthplace and wanted it to be maintained after his death whereas Hardy, James stated, did not want anyone to see his.
James discussed what might have been the other circumstances and aspects that fuelled and inspired them both to reach the great levels they did in their respective fields. He concluded by illustrating how the National Trust curate the lives of such famous people and felt that the public wanted to experience the spaces in which these gifted people achieved their masterpieces. He said that by curating these properties in such a way that visitors left feeling that they too could be creative in some way or encourage someone else to be creative then the National Trust had created its aim.
Hardy’s birth place is at Higher Bockhampton, Dorchester and his home was at Max Gate, Dorchester, and Elgar’s birthplace is at Lower Broadheath, Worcester.
This archive is part of a larger Batten’s collection purchased by Somerset Heritage Centre. The smaller, Dorset element of the archive was in turn acquired thanks to DAT’s Emergency Purchase Fund. The collection which consists of several hundred documents contains some really interesting early items – written in Latin and dating back to the eras of Henry VI, Henry VII and Elizabeth. The archive is typical of some of the fascinating material that is sometimes contained within the archives of solicitors’ firms, of which Dorset History Centre has many. The Batten’s archive is now safely stored within DHC’s and has been assigned the reference D/BTT.
Two albums kept by a Mildred Baker of Lennox Street Weymouth dated “1899” and a note states “Age 8”. The second album has an address in Ashley Road Parkstone (near Poole) which has been crossed through and the Lennox Street Weymouth address added again, dated “March 27th 1900”.
The pages comprise a lovely mixture of nature notes, detailing the names of plants and from where they were obtained, a variety of plant specimens affixed (usually by glue, larger ones with tape) and the occasional watercolour drawing or photograph. There are numerous visits to South Dorset and in particular the coastal areas. Other trips further afield are noted including a visit to London, and in particular the Zoo with photographs and several parrot feathers which were picked up and carefully inserted. Many of the Dorset journeys were carried out on bicycles or on walks with her parents, both of whom also seem to have had a keen interest in botany. Tales of their journeys are also included. There is a note of taking tea with “Mr and Mrs Bowles Barrett he is a great botanist and is going to help me” [probably William Bowles Barrett, Lawyer & Botanist, 1833-1915].
A third album is similarly bound in green cloth, and a note inside states “Barbara Baker Witchampton Rectory April 15th 1912 aged 10”, which may give us a clue to the original owner as a Reverend E.W. Baker (assisted by Lord Alington) erected the first Village Hall in Witchampton in 1924, so Mildred and Barbara Baker may have been his children? The third book follows a similar pattern, and is about half full. It breaks at one point for several years (until 1917) when she notes that she had been away at school in Bristol as well as bemoaning the difficulty of walking the coastal path at Portland due to the war. Finally, the last few pages note a different name (“Belinda Parham 3 Arboretum Rd Edinburgh Age 9”) with similar specimens collected during Spring 1949. It is unknown what relation this contributor is to the Baker girls.
A photograph of a young girl is also included and may possibly be one of the Baker sisters. Also three associated letters comprising 1934 2pp from Gerald Allen, Bishop of Sherborne regarding “..your husband’s illness”, 1911 1pp from Frederick Ridgeway, Bishop of Kensington and 1913 2pp from Charles Robertson Honey.
The Dorset History Centre held a reception on 29th of March to celebrate the completion of the Poole Borough Project. This significant project catalogued over 1600 boxes of parchment and paper spanning 800 years. A tremendous effort which included the creation of a digital catalogue, conservation of documents where needed, and the repackaging of all the boxes for storage in the History Centre’s climate controlled strong rooms. This has ensured the preservation and accessibility of Poole Borough’s archival history.
I was very privileged to join these celebrations representing the Dorset Archives Trust (DAT). DAT are proud to be one of the organisations along with The National Archives, which provided funds for this project. Other attendees included the Mayor of Poole, Councilors from Poole Borough, Poole historians, volunteers from the project and staff from the History Centre.
The event showcased a selection of items from the archive, including the founding Longespee Charter dating from 1248 down the timeline to a letter to the Mayor in the early 1960s. Also on display was the full archive catalogue which can now accessed over the Internet. The project archivist Katherine Kinrade gave a fascinating presentation on the work of the project and anecdotes on the 15,000 items held in the archive. A delightful afternoon enjoyed by all, the only sad part was saying goodbye to Katherine who has done such a sterling job as Project Archivist. We wish her all the best for the future!
Dorset Archives Trust
Colin Divall, former Professor of Railway Studies at York University, now resident again in his native Dorset, gave a fascinating overview of the background to and impact of Dr Richard Beeching’s (now eponymous) 1963 report The Reshaping of British Railways. Colin grew up within sight of the Wimborne line and witnessed the last trains to run along that branch of the Southampton and Dorchester railway before its closure in 1974. The keen interest in railway history was evidenced by a full house at Dorset History Centre with an audience of 70.
Colin has researched the background the closures in Dorset, with particular emphasis on the lines in the east of the county serving Wimborne, Blandford and the conurbation of Bournemouth and Poole. He has analysed archives from the period including financial reports, newspapers and even correspondence from members of the public to build up a picture of the times – and of the hard-headed economics which drove the cuts to the railway system. Contrary to Beeching’s modern reputation as the wrecker of the railways, Colin demonstrated that there was little actual contemporary protest against the closures, although the quote from his talk’s title was taken from a letter from a Dorset woman written directly to the Minister of Transport, Ernest Marples. Colin also pointed out that although many of the railways which were closed were shut on the basis of hard economics, the actual case for closure in some cases was actually far more marginal.
He left us with a series of ‘what if?’ scenarios relating to the railways. With the benefits of hindsight it is entirely possible that the Wimborne line in particular, but other Dorset railways too, would be in service today – given the expansion of the conurbation and east Dorset and the preference many of us have for taking the train over driving. Sadly, the reinstatement of this line seems very unlikely with railway bed having been built on.
On display during the evening were several of Dorset History Centre’s large collection of historic railway plans.