West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project

THE archives of Kirklees have received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project, it was announced today. The project aims to improve access to Kirklees’ archive collections, create opportunities for volunteering, formal and informal learning and exhibitions for the first time, and to radically improve the storage and physical conditions for the collections. This work will achieved through a partnership between Kirklees MBC, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee and the University of Huddersfield.

Thanks to National Lottery players development funding of £80,100 has also been awarded to help the project partners progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. If successful, the Kirklees archive collections will move to the multi-award winning facilities at Heritage Quay on the University campus in 2019. The move of West Yorkshire Archive Service Kirklees to the University site will not impact on the provision of the local history service in Huddersfield Library and offers a great opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the Archives Service, University of Huddersfield and Kirklees Libraries.

Graham Turner and Val Slater The unique and irreplaceable archive collections cover the whole of the current Kirklees Metropolitan District including Batley, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Liversedge, Marsden and Mirfield. They fill more than 26,100 boxes (some 522 cubic metres) and are composed of parchment, paper, volumes, textile samples, photographic media including glass-plate negatives, transparencies and prints. Overall the collections are important because they are unique and key sources for understanding the place and the identity of communities who have helped shape it over 850 years. Whilst the collections cover most aspects of people’s lives there are particular strengths in textiles, canals, industry, trades’ unions, womens’ rights, culture and sport.


Cllr Graham Turner, Cabinet Member Kirklees – Asset Strategy, Resources & Creative Kirklees (Arts) said: “This is a fantastic opportunity, to not only create a valuable resource, but to strengthen the relationship between the Archive Service, the University and Kirklees Libraries, which I believe is very important.”

Tim Thornton “At West Yorkshire Archive Service we are very proud to be home to the largest archive service outside of London, with nationally and internationally significant collections, spanning over 800 years” said Cllr Val Slater, Chair of the Archives, Archaeology and Trading Standards Sub-committee, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee. “Our office at Kirklees plays an important role in preserving the unique written history of the area. But without new storage and access facilities the long-term survival of the collections could be in jeopardy after The National Archives identified our buildings as being unfit to store our irreplaceable archives. It’s great news that we have secured initial approval from HLF to seek funding to move to the university site, and it will represent a full house of new buildings for WYAS, and provide an unmissable opportunity for closer working with the University and much improved public access in existing, high quality facilities at Heritage Quay.”

Sue Bower Professor Tim Thornton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, said: “We’re delighted to be able to develop our partnerships with Kirklees and the West Yorkshire Archive Service, building on the multi-award-winning success of Heritage Quay. This will allow us to propose new activities with new archive materials involving even wider audiences in the remarkable heritage of the communities of the Kirklees area.”

Sue Bowers, Deputy Director of Operations, Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted that this project will unite these important physical archives, and keep them on one site, in Kirklees. This support from National Lottery players will create fantastic opportunities for volunteering and allow many more people to explore the collections, and we look forward to seeing the final proposals in the near future”.

Read the Press Release here


Holmfirth High comes to Heritage Quay!

For the last two weeks we’ve welcomed two students from nearby Holmfirth High School into Heritage Quay for their work experience placements. Here’s what they’ve had to say about becoming archivists for a couple of weeks, and you can see them hard at work in the photo below!

Tom and Joe hard at work in the archives

I decided to come to Heritage Quay to do my work experience, because of my love of history and my fascination with local history and knowing about our ancestors. Whilst I’ve been on this placement I’ve done some intriguing and horizon broadening activities. One day I logged volumes of books onto the online system giving me a glimpse into the inner workings of the archive catalogue, I’ve also been listening to music and researching it for upcoming listening clubs.

This experience made me think hard about my options after school and education, and completely opened my eyes to many different job opportunities that I had never before thought of. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and would gladly come again if another chance arises!

I choose to do work experience at Heritage Quay because of my interest in history and archives. While there I helped list dissertations and photography into the online database, moved books from shelf to shelf and researched various items and collections from the archives. I particularly enjoyed working on the Frobisher collection as it was extremely interesting to see a large collection of records from a single family’s history.

Although I am still uncertain about to do after school my work experience here has taught me many useful skills and shown a lot about the workings of the archives so I am very happy to have done my work experience here.

You can check out Tom and Joe’s contributions to the archive catalogue at the following links:


Thanks to our amazing volunteers

Today we marked the conclusion of the collections work of our first cohort of collections volunteers: Caroline, Maureen and Sue.

Hard at work
Hard at work

Between them they’ve greatly enhanced access to the Guest papers (catalogue forthcoming), the Mikron Theatre Company archive, the composer files and photographs in the British Music Collection, Rugby League photographs, and institutional archives.

Caroline, Maureen and Sue have so far given us around 410 volunteer hours – or a quarter of a full-time worker! – since they started their projects back in August.  All three are continuing to volunteer with us for events like the recent Maps Day and Takeover Day.

Guest papers
Guest papers

Thank you all three for your massive contributions to opening up the collections for use.

Also among our first cohort of collections volunteers were Tim, Sally, Michael, Katie and Aiden – we are so grateful for your help.

If you’d like to volunteer to work with collections at Heritage Quay – we’re recruiting until 31st January.

Volunteer Blog – Tim Galsworthy on listing the RFL Jack Harding Collection

My name is Tim Galsworthy and I am currently a History student at the University of Bristol, I am also a diehard Warrington Wolves fan. As a result an advert calling for volunteers to work with Rugby League collections, here at Heritage Quay, excited both the history and sports nerd inside me. (I’ll be honest; I haven’t got over being in the presence of Brian Bevan’s shirt and boots yet!) I have spent six weeks organising and cataloguing the Jack Harding Collection, and it’s been a great experience.


Jack Harding was Chairman of Leigh R.L.F.C for much of the Twentieth Century, a leading member of the Rugby Football League Council (being both Chair and Vice-Chair at different times), and also Manger of the triumphant 1970 Great Tour to Australasia. Harding managed the last Great Britain tour side to bring home ‘The Ashes’. Having these official positions, along with being a general rugby league supporter, means that this collection has some real gems: photographs of Great Britain’s 1970 triumph Down Under, match day programmes from an absolute plethora of games, and a Challenge Cup winners’ medal. Probably my favourite items in the collection are Harding’s personal records of what the 1970 Great Britain players owed him and where they sat on plane journeys, and the Challenge Cup Final Community Singing sheets he collected.


While these specific records stand out for me I’m sure others would be interested in very different elements of the Collection. Also found within these four boxes are masses of newspaper cuttings, Leigh’s financial records for a number of decades, and Harding’s match reports from the 1970 Tour. The breadth and diversity of Jack Harding’s papers is wonderful, meaning that individuals interested in topics ranging from Leigh’s business elites in the Twentieth-Century to working class popular culture can take something from this collection.

I have discovered these superb heritage titbits in the general process of archiving and cataloguing the Collection. I began by looking through the boxes and deciding what categories the material could be split in to. After this I began listing the items in the collection and entering descriptions onto Heritage Quay’s collections management software. Finally I began repacking Harding’s papers into folders, envelopes, and acid-free transparent sleeves.


Working with this collection has been both enjoyable and academically beneficial. Spending days looking at programmes from famous matches, or exploring the day-to-day life on a Great Britain Tour, is something every Rugby League fanatic would adore to spend their summer doing. Also as a History student- and wannabe Historian- cataloguing and indexing this material has enabled me to experience the archive from the other side, as it were. I now more fully appreciate the vital role the archivist plays in any great historical research.

My six weeks here at Heritage Quay has deepened my passion for Rugby League, history, and especially popular cultural heritage. I only hope that one day I will read a fascinating piece of research and note that it is based upon records found in the Jack Harding Collection!

We just can’t do it alone! Volunteer appreciation day.

Whilst it’s not Volunteer’s Week in the UK (that’s June 1-7 if you’re interested), or International Volunteer’s Day (December 5), but every day is volunteer appreciation day at Huddersfield Archives! This Summer it has all been about locating collections, auditing collections, repackaging material and making sure everything is labelled and located prior to our big move (starts next week – yikes!). Whilst our staff team has grown by a factor of… a lot (I’m an Archivist Jim, not a mathematician!) there’s still no way we could have got to this point without help. Here’s where our amazing team of volunteers and student helpers come into play. They have gone right through our Collections Management Plan and ticked off some of the really big jobs. In fact, they have even completed some jobs we thought might not have been done until next Summer! Shhh. Knock on wood. I didn’t say that. It’s not very often we’re ahead in our ‘to-do’ list!

Some of them were with us a half day, a couple of days, some a week, some a few days a week over the whole Summer. Everything they’ve done has been vital to assisting us in getting to a point where our Strongrooms are tidier and everything is in boxes and located, so we can list it on our crazy move spreadsheets that allocates every box on an existing shelf to a precise shelf in the new repository. Alas we don’t have photos of all of them at work, but some of them were caught in the act! So huge thanks go to Steven, Gail, Alexzandra, Richard, Paige, Natasha, Helen, Chris, Nick, Eleanor, Andrew, Nicole, Adam and Matt, you’ve done sterling work!

Adam audits maps…

Helen handles sorting Rugby programmes…

Nicole and Matt clean registers…

Our student group clean even more registers…

Chris also cleaning registers (did I mention we have a lot of registers!)

Once we are settled into Heritage Quay we hope to be able to offer structured, project based volunteering to students and the wider community, and the Archivist’s are working with David, our Participation & Engagement Officer, and Sarah, our manager, to develop some guidelines and project roles for this. So if you’re interested in dipping your toe in Archives work, then keep an eye on the Heritage Quay website around Christmas time for more information!