Thursday 29 September 2022

Joel's Record Office Resumé

This blog was written by one of our work experience students, Joel, who spent a week with us over the summer.  Thank you for your work Joel! 

Being at the Record Office for four days, I learnt a lot of different things, from research skills to conservation, as well as what goes on behind the scenes. The tour of the building right at the start of my time there really gave a good insight into the various jobs that happen in the archives, as well as allowing me to enter one of the strong rooms where all the records are kept. I also attended two Microsoft Teams meetings in which the new archive buildings were discussed and upcoming events were planned out. In total I worked on three big projects for the archives.

The first main project I worked on was looking at a scrapbook made by the various mayors of Chester between 1936 to 1979. Continuing where Archie left off, [Archie's Archives Experience blog can be found here] I looked at the entries made between 1947 to 1957. One of the most interesting things I found was that there was a great difference in the entries, including a letter relating to the death of King George VI, menus and table plans for luncheon at the Grosvenor Hotel, Christmas Cards, an invite to a Turner exhibition in the Town Hall, a programme for the presentation of new colours to the Cheshire Regiment and (perhaps most strangely) an invite to the 51st Annual Conference of the Llay Angling Society on Northgate Street. 


The randomness of these events is fascinating to me, and they give a really good indication of the duties undertaken by the mayor of Chester. The work on the scrapbook also gave me the opportunity to have a go at the conservation process and learn how the Record Office preserve their archived materials.

As well as the scrapbook, I was also given the chance to work with the Local Studies team. My work for them involved looking at photographs of Chester and seeing whether or not they were on the online image bank. For those that were not, I was given the task of creating online descriptions and catalogues for them. Some of these included photos of The Church of St. John the Baptist in Guilden Sutton, The Suspension Bridge by the Groves from the 1920’s, The Blue Bell on Northgate Street, King Charles Tower and Children in Fancy Dress from the 1910’s. Seeing how the city has changed over time (and how things have stayed the same) was really interesting to me.

The third and final of my projects was related to the Parkside Asylum, which was located in Macclesfield. The first part of it involved using Zooniverse, which gives you a case note to answer questions on. Though it was tricky to begin with (due to handwriting being difficult to read) I soon got the hang of it. After finishing the Zooniverse tasks, I began to look at Parkside case notes on the online catalogue in order to log the diagnosis of individuals (death, transfer, recovery etc) and to see if the case notes came with a photograph of the individual. Seeing photographs of real patients brought a greater connection between me and the work.

One of the highlights of the four days was the people working and volunteering at the records office, all of whom were passionate about what they do. They were also extremely helpful and happy to answer any questions I had or to talk to me about what they were all doing.

In the future, I wish to be a historical researcher for television, films, and video games, and I believe the skills that I have acquired at the Record Office will help me with this aim.

The documents and photographs Joel worked with are available to view at Cheshire Record Office in Chester. 

Thursday 8 September 2022

Cycling round Cheshire in the 1920s

Join the gang! We’re sharing one man’s love for eco-friendly transport in the 20s…the 1920s that is! We were recently donated a collection of 48 black and white photographs taken by a man called Robert (Bob) Leitch, as he cycled round the county of Cheshire with Rover Scouts. His companions included William (Bill) Lloyd and Harold Litherland, and now you!

We’re highlighting images from this collection, allowing you to view Cheshire through the eyes of these cycling chums one hundred years ago, including views of Lyme Park, Chester Cathedral, Chester Rows, Great Budworth, Mobberley, Siddington, Astbury, and Gawsworth, as well as panoramic views out across the Cheshire Plain.

Rover Scouting is the final stage in the Scouts’ Association, after Beavering, Wolf Cubbing, Scouting and Senior Scouting. Bob’s Rover Scouts can be seen here in Church Street, Great Budworth. The village pump can be seen on the right, the only source of drinking water for the whole community until 1934, when a piped supply was first connected. Can you spot the little dog edging in for a photobomb?

We’re not sure in what order Bob and his pals visited the Cheshire locations depicted in the collection, so we’ll start our tour with Chester and work our way further afield.

Here Bob has photographed Chester Cathedral west entrance from the top of St Werburgh Street where it joins Northgate Street. Pedestrians can be seen walking past the cathedral.

Two of the Rover Scouts survey the streets of Chester below them from the Rows. With the Rows and Chester Cathedral, Bob and his pals were visiting the same Chester tourist destinations in the 1920s that you can visit today in the 2020s. As well as the cathedral, Bob photographed several other religious buildings in Cheshire, some we have been able to identify, and others elude our Local Studies Librarian for the moment! Keep an eye on our twitter page (@CheshireRO) and our #MysteryImageMonday feature to see if you can help us identify any of these mystery locations.

All Saints Church, Siddington, is a Grade II* Listed Building, built on a site first consecrated in 1521. Originally all timber-framed, much of the building was replaced by brick in the 18th century. St Mary's Parish Church in Astbury is even older, dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. The spire which you can see here was struck by lightning and rebuilt in 1838.

As you can see, we have identified several images of Great Budworth, this seems a popular location with the Rover Scouts, so perhaps this is where they began or ended their cycling tour? Other destinations include Mobberley, and as far as Disley to visit Lyme Park, as well as pit-stops to admire the Cheshire Plain.

Lyme Park passed to the Leghs of Lyme by marriage in 1388 and stayed in the Legh family until it was given to the National Trust in 1946. The house dates from the latter part of the 16th century, with modifications made in the 1720s by Italian architect Giacomo Leoni and by British architect Lewis Wyatt in the 19th century.


We end our tour round Cheshire with a photograph of the group at an unknown location. They pause for a break from cycling on a grassy bank covered in crocus flowers, which tells us they were enjoying their cycling tour in spring.

Some of these images have been added to our Cheshire Image Bank, and we hope to add more soon as we continue to digitise and research the collection. We hope you have enjoyed this little tour - why not let us know your favourite places to cycle in Cheshire, or perhaps you’ve cycled round the same haunts as Bob and his buddies?

Lastly, if this blog has piqued your interest into what Cheshire was like in the 1920s, we have just curated a new Popular Collection on the Cheshire Image Bank called Cheshire in the 1920s which you might like to explore.

All of these images and more are available to view at Cheshire Record Office in Chester.