Tag Archives: Archives

St. Oswald’s Camp, Rubery

St. Oswald’s Camp, 1923 [MS 703 (1961/001)]

This year is the 30th anniversary of the opening of Rubery Community and Leisure Centre, located on Holywell Road, Rubery.  Opened in 1988 after a number of years of fund-raising and renovation of the derelict facilities on the site, the centre offers sports and other activities to the local community. However, the history of the site goes back well beyond the 1980s as the land had been used for recreational purposes since the early years of the 20th century, when it was given to the Mid-Worcester and Class XIV Sub-Union of the Midland Adult School Union (MASU) for use as a weekend holiday centre.

St. Oswald’s Camp, n.d. [MS 703 (1961/001)]

The donors of the land were the brothers, Edward (1873-1948) and George Cadbury Junior (1878-1960), both of whom, like their father George Cadbury (1839 -1922), were active in adult school work with the Class XIV group of schools based in south-west Birmingham and North Worcestershire.  Arthur T. Wallis, secretary of the Mid-Worcester and Class XIV Sub-Union schools, wrote in the  1956 Jubilee Celebration leaflet that when the brothers built their houses in the Lickey Hills, they greatly appreciated returning to the peace and beauty of the countryside after spending the working day at the Cadbury chocolate factory in Bournville.

St. Oswald’s Camp, n.d. [MS 703 (1961/001)]

So that others less fortunate than themselves could also enjoy it, they set aside a seven acre field, a wood and a bathing pool, and arranged for a Dutch barn accommodating 25 people, a kitchen with a cooking range and water boiler, and club room to be built and furnished. The site was named St. Oswald’s Camp, after a monk who is said to have lived there in a stone cell and distributed water from the Holy well, located on the edge of the camp and still in use by local villagers at the time the camp was established. Opened by Edward Cadbury on 6th June 1906, the camp was run by volunteers from the adult school movement,

…to provide, at the most modest charges possible, opportunity for such change from the ordinary routine as will provide full refreshment for body, mind and spirit both for members of the Schools and others who wish to avail themselves of it.

(Jubilee leaflet 1956, MS 703 (1961/001))

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Closed Week Retrospective

Last week was our ‘closed week’ in Archives & Collections which meant the Wolfson Centre was closed to researchers while we carried on working behind the scenes…

Staff of Archives & Collections practicing salvage techniques to save water damaged items.

Having the Wolfson Centre closed meant that staff could attend training on the Disaster Plan. Led by our Conservator, Lucy Angus, the training makes sure that in the case of an emergency, be it fire or flooding in the building or in the stores for example, that staff are aware of the procedures to follow so that minimum losses are incurred. As I’m sure many of you are aware, there have been a number of high-profile disasters in recent years including the collapse of the building housing the archives of Cologne in 2009 and most recently a fire that gutted the National Museum of Brazil. Planning is taken very seriously so that we are prepared to deal with any events that arise and can save as much of the archives as possible, should the unthinkable happen. The training also familiarised staff with where our emergency equipment is stored, which includes hard hats and steel toed boots!

Just some of the disaster and salvage equipment in Archives & Collections.

Elsewhere in the stores, following a very large deposit of court records earlier in the year, staff have been arranging these in date order and this will be followed up by listing them in the future. Given the very high number of volumes received, this is quite a task to be keeping us busy!

Acc 2014/203 Consent under the Substitution Act 1858.

In addition to taking in a new deposit of records from the Birmingham Methodist Circuit on Wednesday, closed week also gives us the opportunity to try to catch up on our accessioning.We still have documents we received back in 2014 which are still waiting to be put in their permanent location within the stores. Amongst those waiting to be re-boxed are a collection of documents from the Charity Commissioner which includes a Consent allowing parishes formerly under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Worcester to be transferred to the Bishop of Birmingham following the creation of the Diocese of Birmingham. The document is dated 15 February 1906 and what this shows is the transfer of the parishes of St. Mary the Virgin, Acocks Green, St. Asaph, Birmingham, St. Luke, Birmingham, St. Mark, Birmingham, St. Matthew, Duddeston, St. Mary, Selly Oak, St. Margaret, Olton and St. Andrew, Bordesley into the newly created Diocese of Birmingham.

Schedule showing the parishes transferred to the new Diocese of Birmingham.

There are plenty more tasks waiting for us during our next closed week at Christmas!

Nicola Crews
Archivist

Interesting discoveries

As you may have seen in a previous post, cataloguing is a part of our role within archives; we do this in order to make clear what we have in our collections and to make documents accessible to members of the public for use in research and family history. Once in a while, however, something within the archive being catalogued can surprise you. The document below is one such surprise!

Copy inspeximus of Roger de Northbrook concerning the endowment of the vicarage of Aston, 1327 [Finding Number: [DV 362] 394018]

 The document comes from the Ecclesiastical Parish Records of St Peter and Paul in Aston (EP 41) and it is interesting in that it is a 19th century transcript of a 14th century copy of a 13th century original document, pertaining to the Vicarage of Aston. It comprises a short introduction from the incumbent Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, followed by the Transcript of the 1254 original and below that the Bishop writes again that he puts his seal to the original document after he has looked through it. He has dated the inspection 1327.

Copy inspeximus of Roger de Northbrook concerning the endowment of the vicarage of Aston, 1327 [Finding Number: [DV 362] 394018]

Endowment of the Vicarage of Aston, Birmingham – 1254

To all the sons of the Holy Mother Church to whom these present Letters shall come Roger by Divine permission Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield health to him who is a true health to all Know ye all that we have inspected certain Letters of Roger sometime Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield of faithful memory our predecessor upon the ordination of the Vicarage of Aston in our Diocese made and sealed with his seal in these Words […]

To all the sons of the Holy Mother church to whom in their present writing shall come We Roger by Divine Mercy Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield send health Everlasting in the Lord to all of you Because our beloved in Christ the Prior Convent of Newport Pagnel in the Diocese of Lincoln have freely submitted the church of Aston in our Diocese with the Chapel of Bromwich and all other their appertenances /the right of Patronage is acknowledged to belong to them/ to our ordination by their letters patent as well of the Prior as the Convent under their seal promising that they would ratify and confirm whatever we should think fit to ordain concerning the church and chapel aforesaid with their appertenances the as well for the Honor of Religion as Hospitality attending to the charity which the said Prior and Convent say they are able to perform and likewise to the poverty of those who have suffered much in the cause of Religion and we desireing with great earnestness an increase in Divine Worship in our Church of Lichfield with this consideration that the said church of Aston with its appertenances ought not to be defrauded of its rights with the convent of our beloved in Christ Ralph Dean and the Chapter of Lichfield having God before our eyes have thus thought fit to decree concerning the same viz- that upon the departed or death of Mr Wm. Kelkennye Rector of same church the aforesaid Prior and Convent and their successors shall have for Ever to their own use the Church of Aston with the Chapel of Bromwich and all their appurtenances saving to the vicar in the same church the under written portions consisting viz- in the whole alterage with the Tithe of Hay, of mills principal Leganes, Tithe of Wool and Lamb, Sheaves increasing in and gardens tilled with the foot and in all other obventions and small tithes arising within the whole Parish with the House which Mr Ralph De Crophill sometime vicar of the said church of Aston possessed. Moreover the Prior and Convent aforesaid and their successor shall pay annually at Lichfield Twenty Marks viz, on the feast of the ascension of our Lord Ten Marks, and  on the feast of Saint Andrew the apostle Ten Marks and they shall procure and present a proper person to the archdeacon and to the said vicarage when it shall become vacant but the vicar of the said Church for the time being  shall personally minister in the same church and shall sustain of his own charges one Chaplain and on Deacon honest and fit in the said church and one chaplain and one clerk honest and minister in the chapel of Bromwich and he shall pay the Synodals but the in Chancil Books and Ornaments of the Church shall be provided and that sufficiently as well by the aforesaid Prior and Convent as by the Vicar aforesaid shall contribute to the Extraordinary burthens in equal portions. In Testimony and in confirmation of this our ordination we have put our seal to the present writing reserving to ourselves and our successors in the Church, the Pontifical and Parochial right and the Dignity of our Churches of Coventry and Lichfield. Dated at Breivode on the eve of Saint Cecilia the Virgin [21 November] Anno Dui 1254 in the presence of our Beloved sons in Christ Mr Ralph, Dean, Ralph, Treasurer, Mr R de Lakots, Walter de Perton, Alexander Blound, William de Eccleshall Nicholas de Lega, Canons of Lichfield.

Copy inspeximus of Roger de Northbrook concerning the endowment of the vicarage of Aston, 1327 [Finding Number: [DV 362] 394018]

Inspected by Roger De Northbrook (Northburgh) afterwards Bishop 1327In testimony of our inspection we Roger aforesaid have put our seal to the presents – Dated at Sallow 4th Mones of May Anno Dui 1327.

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Pageant of Birmingham 1938: Costumes

The Pageant of Birmingham 1938, held in July, was planned to mark the centenary of Birmingham’s Borough Charter and the intended Royal visit of George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the city.

The Iron Room Blog has covered the Pageant of Birmingham before. Egbert, the giant smoke breathing dinosaur, plus his smaller companions, Ogbert and Little Sidney, have become the most memorable (perhaps as the largest) of the characters included in the event held 80 years ago.

With such spectacles in mind, it must have been easy to forget the sheer number of costumes created for the multitude of other characters which appeared over the course of the event.

In Archives & Collections we have four volumes of costume designs, designed under the direction of Jean Campbell, who was Mistress of the Robes. The designs include basic sketches, ideas which do not appear to have made the final selection, designs painted in great detail, plus fabric swatches of material intended to be used on the final garments.

Episode I: Prologue

William the Conqueror, Pageant of Birmingham 1938 Costume Designs, Vol 1 SE 7

This episode began with the ‘strange monsters’ (e.g. Egbert,) of the prehistoric times, and passed through eras, to William the Conqueror. Above is the image of his robes – nice cape!

Episode II: The Granting of the Market Charter of Birmingham, 1156

Pageant of Birmingham, Illustrated Souvenir Booklet, shelf ref: BCOL 22.41

The illustrated booklet to the event sets out the scene when King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine visit to confirm the charter. Eleanor of Aquitaine’s outfit and make-up in the design are beautiful – very Disney!

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Pageant of Birmingham 1938 Costume Designs, Vol 1 SE 7

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How to make sure your clothes and books don’t become a pest’s dinner!

A few weeks ago whilst browsing in Lakeland, I was confronted by bottles of moth killer and moth traps. It was a timely reminder that this is the time of year where people (myself included!) try desperately not to become infested and have holes appear in jumpers when taken out of the wardrobe come October. But, did you know that archival documents are just as at threat from pests as is a treasured woollen coat?

The vast majority of the collections held in the archives are made from organic materials such as paper and leather. These provide a great food source for pests. Pests we have to watch out for include silverfish, common book lice, and clothes moths amongst others. These pests survive on eating the surfaces of paper, textiles, books, some adhesives and animal skins, which unfortunately is the majority of our collection! You may be thinking just get some insecticide and kill the damn things. Unfortunately insecticides come with health and safety issues as well as not being very safe for the documents.

An example of where pests have caused damage to one of our documents. The wood and parchment in this document has provided a good food source for a wood-boring insect.

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Celebrating 70 years of the NHS!

To celebrate 70 years of the NHS, we thought we’d do a bit of rundown of the wonderful health and caring-related collections we have here in Archives & Collections at the Library of Birmingham.

Below we cover some of the main archive sources for research in hospitals, health and poor relief. It is a starting point rather than an exhaustive list of collections and further sources will be found by checking the online catalogues, the Wolfson Centre paper catalogues and card indexes, and, you will be able to find printed sources (e.g. annual reports of institutions and charities) in the local studies catalogue.

It is worth remembering that many of these collections are incomplete and the survival of records for particular periods or particular institutions can be patchy – check the catalogues to individual collections for details of survival and access (naturally records of this nature are sensitive and do have access restrictions placed on those of a more recent date).

Guardians of the Poor collections

Six boys standing in Sutton Park, Birmingham, on summer outing provided for poor children by the Birmingham Cinderella Club [WK/B11/445]

Until the nineteenth century poor relief was a function of the parish and documents such as apprenticeship indentures and settlement certificates will be found in these collections – see our separate source guide for Faith and Religious Records here. Continue reading

Windrush Pioneers: learning more about the experiences of Caribbean migrants

One Of Henry Gunter’s publications on racial inequality ‘A Man’s A Man’ 1954 (ref MS 2165/1/3)

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in Essex in 1948. The ship brought around 500 people from Jamaica and Trinidad to the UK. Many of the new arrivals were employed in state services such as the NHS and public transport filling post-war employment gaps. An article from the Birmingham Mail from the day that the Windrush landed is available to view online.

The Windrush has come to represent the beginning of greater numbers of people from the Caribbean moving and settling in the UK. This is an important part of the history of Birmingham and we see this legacy today in the make-up of the city.

In our archive collections at the Library of Birmingham we hold material which sheds light on the experiences of those newly arrived in the UK between the 1940s and 1970s. In this blogpost I will focus on two collections but there is more to be explored in the archives.

Campaigning against the colour bar

Henry Gunter was born in Jamaica but moved to the UK in 1950 which was only two years after the Empire Windrush arrived. Gunter, as a campaigner against racism and injustice, was at the forefront of issues black people making a new life in Birmingham were facing. Fortunately for us his writings were a key part of his campaigning activity, so these issues are documented in his archive (MS 2165).

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