Archive drifting

The weekend of the 9-10 September 2017 saw the return of the 4th World Congress of Psychogeography to Heritage Quay. As well as being a lot of fun, more importantly it was the last event to take place as part of our Heritage Lottery-funded Heritage Quay engagement project. As I reflected on the past three years of engagement work I realised that the Congress, and the session I ran at it this year (Archive Dérive), was a microcosm for the way that we’ve tried to work at HQ.

So, how does me running a session called Archive Derive at the 4th Congress of Psychogeography sum us up?

0.5) What is Psychogeography?
Psychogeography has a few definitions, which include “the study of the influence of geographical environment on the mind or on behaviour” or “the geographical environment of a particular location, typically a city, considered with regard to its influence on the mind or on behaviour.” For the lay person, it’s an approach to the world around us that, using the tools of psychology, sociology, art, philosophy etc, makes us look at the familiar through new eyes.

1) Local connections and collaboration
The idea for the Congress came from another event we ran back in 2016 and was the result of something that Huddersfield is great for – connections and contacts. In January 2016 we ran a historic Maps Day and as part of the planning I was put in touch with some local psychogeographers. Although what they did didn’t fit with the planned day we decided it was worth doing something together. This small group of four became the committee for the Congress. The HQ project has been really interested in creating communities of interest around our collections, particularly regarding local history, music and rugby league and this seemed like another community we could support.

2) The Congress as an alternative Heritage Open Days event
Throughout the HQ project, we have tried to be as experimental and interesting as possible (!) and the Congress fits that bill. HODs is about opening up spaces and telling stories about the historical built environment, offering free experiences you can’t get at any other time. What do you do when you already offer free entry and behind the scenes tours? My solution was to take the same parameters but approach them in a very different way – through psychogeography.

3) The Archive Dérive
I am fascinated by the connections between collections and created a session which explored this idea, working with psychogeographical ideas. A Dérive is a alternative method for travelling through a space, often with random or arbitrary rules. Of course, we couldn’t let the public roam around the archives so I did a derive of my own, plotting a map of places I’ve lived onto a plan of the main strongroom.

I then selected objects based on those points – following my instincts to select things. Because I was doing the workshop twice I moved the results slightly to end up with two different selections. This is what I ended up with:

On the Saturday of the Congress I asked two groups of psychogeographers to assemble in the searchroom. Each group was given a box of collections and asked to use them to create a (fictional psychogeographer’s) life story. We worked together to interrogate the archival objects and documents and used them to populate a timeline. It was a lot of fun! I encouraged the groups to be as creative, silly and imaginative as possible and they made some very entertaining connections. Who knew you could link a dating service with snails and Tibetan monks?

These were the results:

David Bollinger

Fenella Brandenberg

The workshops were lots of fun, with mystical and dramatic ideas added together to create some tall tales. At the same time, previously unconnected collections were brought together and linked, by non-specialists, into something greater than the sum of their parts. Which when I think of it is what we always want to do.

Celebrating the Indomitables


Sometimes working in Archives can feel a bit like being a detective and the research and investigations don’t end in the strongroom. We’re in the midst of developing content for our summer and autumn events and I’m working on one event in particular at the moment: Celebrating the Indomitables.

The rightly celebrated Great Britain touring side of 1946 remains the most successful to ever go down under and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their achievements we have an event on the 2nd July where we are going to tell the story of the trip from beginning to end.

The first place to start was our own archives which are particularly rich in this area – the RFL kept some fascinating documents and there are photographs and programmes to do alongside. We also have a couple of player collections from Byrn Knowelden and Dai Jenkins which have a more personal dimension. The Dai Jenkins archive is particularly rich as he donated his trunk and all its contents to the RFL. Our volunteers have been going through all these great collections to see what stories we can tell but it’s not enough! We are also working with Simon Foster, son of tour star Trevor who organised a reunion event a few years ago at the George – he has already been in touch with some of his many contacts.

We have two special aims that are above our usual rugby league events here – we are attempting to invite the families of all the players on the tour, and to track down the shirts that were worn by the players – there are 26 in total.

This is the one that belonged to Dai Jenkins – you can see the mud is still on it!

We’re going through local and national press, and contacts at clubs across the North and we are interested in speaking to anyone with a connection to the tour, particularly if they have stories of a family member, if they own any memorabilia or even if they served on the HMS Indomitable.

The archive would be really pleased to hear from anyone holding any items relating to the tour or with a connection to: Martin Ryan, Joe Jones, Eric Batten, Jimmy Lewthwaite, Ted Ward, Jack Kitching, Arthur Bassett, Willie Horne, Willie Davies, Tommy McCue, Fred Hughes, Ken Gee or George Curran.

To get in touch please contact me at


Heritage Quay honoured by Royal Historical Society


Story published Fri, 11 Dec 2015 11:20:00 GMT

Heritage Quay was commended for its “promotion of public history” in the new Public History Prize Awards

THE prestigious Royal Historical Society (RHS) has honoured the University’s Heritage Quay for its promotion of public history in their new Public History Prize Awards.

The biennial awards, in association with the Institute of Historical Research Public History Seminar, have been set up to recognise work that enhances public understanding of the place of the past in today’s social, political and cultural life.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the University of Huddersfield, Heritage Quay is a £2 million state-of-the-art facility and is one of the most technologically-advanced archive centres in the UK.  The commendation, in the Museums and Exhibitions category, comes after Heritage Quay was opened a mere 14-months-ago by Regional Chairman of the HLF Sir Gary Verity.

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We are delighted to hear that this wonderful project has received this richly-deserved award.  The archive’s range is breathtaking covering not only social, cultural, political and industrial history but also music, the arts and sport, so we welcome this recognition of the sterling work of the project and the University.”

The archive, which holds material of international importance, including the British Music Collection, in partnership with Sound and Music, and the official Rugby League Archive, in partnership with Rugby League Cares, also works in collaboration with other local history organisations.

As well as showing off its own collections, the archive also acts as a gateway to the development of skills and co-design of its public history programme, which is chiefly organised by Participation and Engagement Officer David Smith.

The Chief Executive of Sound and Music, Susanna Eastburn, who supported Heritage Quay’s submission, spoke highly of the archive “they had opened a fascinating, eclectic and unparalleled collection of material to a much wider public than has ever been the case’.

Brigid Bradley, Rugby League Cares Heritage Programme Manager, acclaimed Heritage Quay’s work to be nothing short of amazing in looking after and making their collection accessible to the public.

“Their outreach programme is fantastic,” said Brigid.  “It allows many people who are interested in the history of Rugby League to learn new skills and discover archival gems, all on the basis of our collection.

Heritage Quay“The work they do is to an exceptional standard and we feel very fortunate to be partners with them,” she added.

Sarah Wickham, Heritage Quay’s Archivist and Records Manager, was delighted to receive recognition from the RHS, which has long been regarded as the principal organisation representing British historical scholarship both at home and abroad.

Peter Mandler, RHS President, said about the Public History Prizes: “We live in something like a golden age of public history – a time when academics and other specialists work closely with journalists and the media and vice-versa to satisfy public interest in and raise public understanding of historical questions.

“The Royal Historical Society wants to recognise creativity and excellence in this booming field:  to show that the public doesn’t need to choose between edification and entertainment, between expertise and accessibility, between style and substance.  We hope these prizes will draw further attention to the most impressive combinations of high-quality research and high-quality presentation.”

Autumn Term at Heritage Quay

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  or give her a ring on 01484 473 168.

We look forward to seeing you this term at Heritage Quay!

Rugby League Drama Workshop 2015

What’s On launched!

Today sees the launch of Heritage Quay’s first brochure of events and activities, to cover the period September 2015 – March 2016.

Heritage Quay Brochure September 2015 – March 2016 FINAL

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

Huddersfield Gems

Huddersfield Gems is a unique collaboration between Heritage Quay and groups from across the district. The curators are all members of the Local History Programming Group who meet here three times a year to work on creating events and activities using the University archive collections.


The exhibition aims to hint at the hidden or interesting stories of buildings (or car parks!) which are part of the everyday fabric of the town. There are plans, postcards and physical objects which all help us to delve a little deeper into this world. If you want to know even more about what you see here, the exhibition is continued online at

Maybe the place you live in or work at also has a hidden past? There are many other structures in Huddersfield which are amazing too. Why not tell us your favourite on Twitter or Instagram using #huddersfieldgems?