100 braziers will burn all night

This week our stalwart volunteer, David Thorpe, has completed the audit and listing of the Tom Webb and Tom Longworth scrapbook collections in the Rugby Football League Archive. This is a major step forward in making the collections accessible. Now we know what is in the boxes, and have an accurate list, the details have been added to the electronic catalogue and can be seen online at the Heritage Quay website.

Tom Longworth and Tom Webb were pioneers in researching and recording rugby league history throughout the 20th century. Their scrapbook collections contain a vast array of information collected mainly from newspaper articles but also from their own experiences as rugby league fans and journalists. There are books about individual teams, statistics, players and tours; all of which are open for research by club historians, academics and any member of the public.


This cutting is from Tom Webb’s scrapbook dedicated to ‘bad weather’ – an ever-popular British subject! The scrapbook describes various methods used by rugby league clubs in the 20th century to stop pitches freezing and avoid match postponements. These ranged from covering the pitch with a foot of straw, covering the pitch in river sand (which blocked the drains as soon as it rained) and setting up braziers on the pitch; to more unusual ideas such as electrified bars under a tarpaulin, and canvases impregnated with the brine used on bacon!

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