During termtimes it can be hard for the team to carry out work on new collections which means that they are available for researchers to use. During quiet periods, in common with many other archive services, we therefore close the research room usually for around a week and keep the time free of other activities such as teaching and meetings so that we can focus on big collections. As well as having plenty of space to spread them out if a lot of physical work is needed.
During January 2019 we were closed from Wednesday 2nd – Friday 11th inclusive to work on two big collections: the Colin Challen (MP) Archive and the Sir Patrick Stewart Archive.
The Challen Archive had been boxed (around 80 boxes) on its arrival at Heritage Quay but because of the quantity of material no other work had been done since it was transferred by Colin Challen in November 2017. During Collections Week the team were able to survey the material and to sort it into key series, mostly corresponding with Challen’s various roles and offices as a member of the Labour Party. The archive was also listed, and a small project identified for further detailed listing of the miscellaneous consitutency Labour parties in CHN/8 (planned for 2020).
The catalogue is available on the Heritage Quay online catalogue at www.heritagequay.org/archives/chn and also on the Archives Hub/Archives Portal Europe. This part of the work took around 18 person-days and involved 6 members of the team. More details in a later post!
We had undertaken some work on the Patrick Stewart Archive in a previous collections week, and took 6 person-days this time to expand and complete some of the work previously started. The catalogue for the Patrick Stewart Archive is at www.heritagequay.org/archives/psa/ – and again, more details to follow!
The University of Huddersfield’s Archives at Heritage Quay hosted a unique residency with multi-media artist and musician Poulomi Desai, funded through the Leverhulme Trust. For 80 days during the academic year 2016/7 Poulomi immersed herself in the heritage collections stored at Heritage Quay and in the life of the Service, its staff and users. As well as investigating the boxes which hold the archive materials and which are kept in the archive repository when not in use, she also engaged with people attending our events, the researchers pursuing their own interests in the archives, general visitors to Heritage Quay, and staff and volunteers who work here. She also made connections and visits with other artists and groups within the area, and delivered workshops including at European Researchers Night, a University-wide free event in September 2017.
Poulomi produced a series of artworks based on her encounters with the people, collections and broader themes in her residency. One set of these artworks is available at Heritage Quay, the other is in London at Poulomi’s arts space Usurp; the works will be exhibited and performed further.
The artworks include “stories in saris” two silk sari artworks, “S360” and “SE148163” each 5770mm x 3700mm, and made to be worn. The designs are based on Poulomi’s research into three small collections held at Heritage Quay, and listening to idiosyncratic music works in the British Music Collection that reference Indian musicology. The silk was printed in the University’s textile printing department.
“Memento mori” – new photographic glass plates which combine contemporary portraits with motifs from old photographic glass plates, lantern slides and book covers from the main collections of art, rugby league and literature. These celebrate people born in Yorkshire who have broken conventions and challenged prejudices.
“Unmuted” – a film which contrasts the location of Heritage Quay and its collections with the local landscape of the Yorkshire moors.
Performance pieces – two pieces, one for the Archives Assistants in Heritage Quay and the other for anyone handling “Made in Huddersfield” (see below). Both pieces enact rituals of opening, uncovering and displaying the contents of the box – the artworks created during the residency.
“Made in Huddersfield” – a version of the standard archive storage box created in stainless steel and produced by local firm Morley Brothers. These boxes, made of archival quality acid-free cardboard with non-corroding brass fastenings, are used throughout the repositories in Heritage Quay for the preservation and easy handling of the collections. The stainless steel, riveted, version contains and preserves Poulomi’s artworks created through the residency (listed above), and also is central to one of the performance pieces.
Poulomi describes her time in Heritage Quay as providing “unexpected and surprising opportunities” artistically. For the team of staff and volunteers at Heritage Quay, as well as our researchers (both from the University and not) and visitors, Poulomi’s responses to the collections give insights in the past but also reflect on how our management and research processes determine the future.
The Mikron Theatre Company Collection is a fascinating archive of a mainly canal based theatre company, who have been performing in pub gardens and village halls across the canal network of the UK for over forty years. It contains records of actors and those involved with the running of the company, everything from scripts to research and development folders for shows, their programmes, backdrops and advertising materials. It also charts the administrative story of keeping a small independent theatre company in business through fundraising and funding bid applications and reports.
Mikron Theatre Company production posters
We also have a collection of material and objects from the Huddersfield Amateur Operatic Society, now the Huddersfield Musical Theatre Society. Dating from the beginning of the 20th century, programmes and administrative files tell an official history, but this archive also contains objects, from conductors batons, to dolls used as show props or costume tests.
The repository also contains some excellent nineteenth century collection examples covering the Arts. The Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition was a grand exhibition held to mark the opening of a new Mechanics Institute building, and featured many rooms of material, from grand art old masters, to the latest technology in weaving and chemistry. There are also collections spanning some of the intellectual societies of the town in the nineteenth century, including the Foreign Library Society and the Literary and Scientific Society.
Coming into the 20th century, we have an interesting book collection of the Left Book Club, containing a range of well-known and lesser known socialist themed literature. The records of the local theatre, the Lawrence Batley, are also lodged with us, and we have a large amount of material also relating to theatre in Huddersfield in the 1920s – 1950s in the Kirklees Theatre Trust collection. These collections reveal a side of human expression and emotion across two centuries expressed by both the professional and amateur sphere of Huddersfield society.
We’re celebrating the national Big Draw campaign this month at Heritage Quay with a brand new schools workshop! This year’s campaign theme is Every Drawing Tells A Story and we’ll be investigating the life stories of two well known local figures – Victor Grayson (the Disappearing M.P.) and Susannah Sunderland (Yorkshire Queen of Song). You don’t have to be able to draw to join in the artistic fun and there’ll be a chance to practice your research skills too! The workshop is free, lasts around 3 hours, and can include a campus tour. To find out more or book your place, please drop an email to T.Wells@hud.ac.uk or ring 01484 473168.
With the new school term well under way, here at Heritage Quay we’re looking forward to welcoming lots of new faces onto our schools programme for years 4 to 8, with workshops such as Find It! Draw It! Play It! and Build It! All our workshops are linked to the History, Geography, Technology, English and Drama curriculae for key stages 2 and 3, are great fun and completely free!
The Archives at Heritage Quay will be celebrating The Big Draw during October with the launch of an arts based workshop, Draw It! which draws inspiration from two local historical figures, Victor Grayson, M.P. for Colne Valley in the early 20th century, and Susannah Sunderland, “Yorkshire Queen of Song”, the founder of the choral competition which will be familiar to many Huddersfield schools.
In November, Heritage Quay will be handing over control to students from Netherhall High School’s history club as they take over the archives on Friday 20 November, as part of the national Kids in Museums campaign. They’ll be undertaking some research of their own as well as taking on the roles and tasks of Archivists.
We’ve already got some role play experience under our belt through our theatre workshop Play It! which took place back in June. This drama workshop takes the Rugby League collection at Heritage Quay as its starting point. Supporting History and English curriculum objectives, Y6 children from Lindley Junior School re-told the story of the birth of Rugby League and its impact on local communities. They were led through a range of dramatic techniques by professional actors from Chol Theatre along with Huddersfield University drama students. The pupils and their teachers learned a lot about acting and rugby – they thoroughly enjoyed dressing up, handling artefacts from the collection – and wearing false moustaches! Here they are posing at the end of their performance with the 1892 Yorkshire Senior Competition Shield.
Our schools workshops support National Curriculum objectives, last around 3 hours, can include a campus tour, and best of all, are completely FREE!
So if you would like your class to discover their inner thespian, architect, researcher or artist, drop an email to T.Wells@hud.ac.uk or give her a ring on 01484 473 168.
We look forward to seeing you this term at Heritage Quay!
The programme responds to different areas of our collections and there is something for (almost) everyone in there although there is a particular focus on rugby league, music and local history.
To pick out a few highlights, the Rugby League History Day in October will be brilliant – the line up of ex-players, fans and historians is looking stellar (more information to come closer to the time) and it’ll all be for free. For those wanting more detail on the history of the game, renowned historian Tony Collins will be here to run a Roots of Rugby League course over four nights, with a special focus on the Kirklees and Calderdale areas. This is apt because of rugby league’s big 120th birthday this year.
Also make sure to book for our showing of Dangerous Moonlight. Although not a wartime ‘classic’ the lush and emotional music of the Warsaw Concerto, composed specially for the film, made it incredibly popular and should get you in mood for dancing afterwards. They’ll be a bar on hand and live music to make the evening go with a swing. Those proto-band leaders amongst you can get more involved with our Conducting for Beginners workshop.
Finally, we’re kicking the season off with a special event in association with the Huddersfield and District Archaelogy Society who’ll be letting people get hands on what they’ve dug up near the buried Roman Fort at Slack. And we finish the brochure period with more history with our Hopkinsons Day, where we’ll be getting out a selection of things from the collection to jog some memories and get people interested in what we’re doing with them over the following months (you’ll have to wait until the next What’s on for the details)
The last thing I’ll mention is The Listening Room, our special group (it’s like a reading club) for music fans. We’ll be serving up a mix of tunes from our collections every month and then dicussing them to pieces over tea and cake. If you fancy joining the conversation visit our web page or join the Facebook group or of course just come along.
For more information about all the events and activities and links for booking tickets head to our website here or our Facebook page
Last week we discovered all roads really do lead to the canal network as we held the official handover of the Mikron Theatre Company archive into Heritage Quay! The acquisition of the Mikron archive has been almost four years in the making, from a number of coffee shop chats in its hometown of Marsden between producer Peter Toon and Huddersfield academic Heather Norris Nicholson, to the transfer of over 60 boxes of material into the University of Huddersfield Archives in March 2015.
We’re often asked how we acquire collections, and whilst many depositors approach us directly, and on occasion we might approach a potential depositor, it’s far more usual for us to hear about potential acquisitions through word of mouth. Colleagues and users of the archive service will often flag up our existence to those perhaps considering depositing an archive (or those who have never considered it but wish they had somewhere safe to keep their collection!), but with no prior experience of the process or potential of depositing a collection with a professionally run archive service.
In the case of a University archive service, it is often through the connections made by our academics that we are made aware of these potential depositors. It was through Dr Norris Nicholson’s initial discussions into the contents of the archive during 2011 and 2012, and her discovery of the potential for research amongst students and academics from a number of arts disciplines that a new home at the University Archive Service began to take shape. A modern theatre company for whom travelling was a large and integral element of their day to day life, the practical advantages to Mikron of being able to regain office space, alongside the desire to be able to make parts of their fascinating history available to fans and researchers alike made the possibility of the archive’s move a serious prospect.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the transfer arrangements for an archive collection! It often takes months to arrange the practical and legal elements of a deposit. The HLF funding to move the archive service to a new facility gave the idea of the deposit both a boost (considering Heritage Quay’s new location looking out onto the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and Mikron’s long connections with waterways in general) and created a delay. It was decided best to move the material once the centre was complete and the existing collections had been transferred into the new repository.
But on a rather cloudy March morning in 2015, the Mikron archive left its home at the Marsden Mechanics for the last time, to be catalogued, repackaged and stored in the new state of the art facilities at Heritage Quay. During the official handover on the 30th June, Dr Nicholson (Visiting Researcher, University of Huddersfield), Peter Toon (Producer, Mikron) and Marianne McNamara (Artistic Director, Mikron) came to look over some of the transferred material and examine the new repository. Peter and Marianne were excited about the prospect of not only the material becoming accessible to a whole new audience of users, but the potential for them to be able to use and re-visit material from the past. Mikron has one of the longest independent theatre ‘Friends’ group in the UK, which will celebrate it’s 30th anniversary in 2016, and some of the very first newsletters from the 1980s were on display during the handover.
Dr Nicholson pointed out the relevance of the programme and poster collections in charting the history of design and colour choice for Art and Design students. She also discussed an extensive set of oral histories conducted with those living and working on the barges in the early 20th century, which told not only the history of the waterways, but that of a entire culture of ‘bargee’ people who are now represented by only a few descendants keeping traditions alive. As the vinyl, audio tape, programmes, photos, administrative and textile contents of the archive were reviewed, Dr Nicholson concluded the strength of the Mikron collection lay in the diverse range of formats it encompassed, which had appeal to students across the arts and humanities disciplines, and the potential for inter-disciplinary and funded research projects in the future.
So the Mikron collection is now safely on the shelves in its new home, and we hope to have it catalogued shortly. The collection will then be searchable in the online catalogue at heritagequay.org, and also in the lists we upload to portals like the Archives Hub and Archives Portal Europe.
Whilst we hope to welcome many students and academics in to conduct research, we also look forward to sharing the contents of the archive with Mikron’s Friends and the local community. We hope if you visit Heritage Quay in the near future, you too will find all roads lead to the canal!
Read the University’s press release here and find details of Mikron’s show One of Each at Heritage Quay on 8th October 2015 here.
Last Saturday was a momentous day for us here in Heritage Quay – we welcomed our first participants to a workshop: Composing for non-Composers
The session was programmed as part of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. As regular readers may know, Heritage Quay is the home of the hcmf// and British Music Collection archives, two very significant repositories of contemporary classical music. The theme of the workshop, inspired by these collections, was graphical notation. With the help of Duncan Chapman, a professional musician and composer, the group and I explored some scores from the archives and got some practical tips on how to compose (and play) music written in this way. This is how we got on:
In Search of an Ending
Any 1 of 3
Look out for more workshops at Heritage Quay in the new year. If you don’t want to miss out follow us on Twitter @Heritage_Quay or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Newsletter”