Tuesday 8 November 2011

Out with Romany at Wilmslow Library

George Bramwell Evens (1884-1943), known as ‘Romany’, was Britain’s first broadcasting naturalist. A Methodist minister living in Wilmslow, he presented ‘Out with Romany’ on BBC Radio Children's Hour in the 1930s and 1940s which described his travels in the countryside with horse Comma, dog Raq and companions Muriel and Doris. Among his 13 million listeners were future naturalists David Attenborough and David Bellamy.

Romany's gypsy caravan, sited opposite Wilmslow Library

Stones dedicated to Romany and his dog Raq
in the memorial garden close to his vardo

A popular and prolific author, Romany also wrote a number of wildlife books and nature stories for children and a fantastic collection of these are kept in the Reference section at Wilmslow Library. Copies of the ‘Romany Magazine’ produced by the Romany Society, an active local group whose patron is Terry Waite, are also held here.

Books from the collection: top large print published 2002 by Isis
bottom published 1942 (third edition) University of London Press

Thank you to Wilmslow Library, for this first contribution highlighting special collections held at reference libraries across Cheshire.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Heritage Open Day in September provided the ideal opportunity not only to open the Record Office for behind the scenes tours of our own historic building, converted from warehouses 25 years ago – but also to showcase our unique contribution to building heritage, collecting and caring for the historic plans that contain a wealth of information and evidence of buildings past and present.

Plans in the Chester Cathedral collection document its restoration over two centuries. Two years ago a condition survey was carried out, and a programme of conservation scheduled for plans that had been stored rolled, some filthy and damaged. Two years later and the searchroom map table was covered with our selection of highlights to celebrate the conserved and repackaged collection.

The display included beautiful examples of the work of Richard Charles, known as R. C. Hussey working in 1844.

Between 1868 and 1876 Sir George Gilbert Scott carried out major restoration work, considered by some to be a virtual rebuild. He was the most prolific Victorian architect of over 800 buildings, responsible for gothic style workhouses, town halls and prisons and most famously for the Albert Memorial and the Grand Midland Hotel/St Pancras station in London. His style was equally reflected in the designs on show for the organ screen and Bishop’s throne.

His grandson Giles Gilbert Scott was as prolific in terms of iconic designs that include the Battersea and Bankside power stations and the K2 red telephone box of 1924! His designs for the Cathedral date from 1911-1913.

Angela, the conservator dedicated to the Cathedral project, was on hand in the conservation studio with examples of dirty plans and the materials used in the process of cleaning, repairing and repackaging. Once more by far the most popular behind the scenes experience at the record office for visitors who get the chance!

Monday 17 October 2011

'Mystery' photographs, much head-scratching and debate at the Record Office!

When we asked for help sorting a backlog of unidentified photographs an intriguing journey into Cheshire’s past began. This is the story so far…

The initial aim of the project was to add more photos to our existing digital collection Picture Cheshire and raise awareness of the fantastic original material available here at the Record Office and in Cheshire Libraries. The first stage began in August when twelve members of NADFAS volunteered to organise hundreds of photographs according to place. The photographs contained a mix of subjects - people, places, buildings, streets, events and more (even some of a garden hedge and vintage graffiti!). Thanks to their efforts over 90% were identified, and just one box remained ‘unknown’.

We then realised that there was great scope for involving the general public in this project, and set about creating a Flickr exhibition of a selection of these ‘mystery’ images. By opening up the debate in this way we hope not only to identify these photographs but also add to our existing knowledge of Cheshire.

The next stage involves our volunteers packaging the photos to preserve them. We can then take them out to libraries across the county. We hope that local people will enjoy scrutinising them and will be able to contribute information, memories and anecdotes about the people and places featured in the photos. Watch out for a collection coming to a library near you! In the meantime, if you can help with any suggestions about these three images, please comment below or why not take a look at Flickr and see if you recognise any of our mystery photos?