In 2007, Rugby League Cares deposited the Rugby Football League Archive at Heritage Quay (HQ) in Huddersfield, only a few minutes’ walk away from the George Hotel, the birthplace of the sport. This archive contains kit, programmes, recordings of matches, administration records, photographs, posters, memorabilia, player registers and more. There are around 800 boxes of fascinating items – however, there was only one box dedicated to the women’s game!
This is no longer the case.
Since February 2022, HQ has worked with Julia Lee and a team of volunteers to collect, catalogue and make accessible archives and collections which document the history of the women’s game. This work was supported by the Women in Rugby League Heritage Lottery funded project Life with the Lionesses. This project has been integral in uncovering the stories of the pioneering players and staff and celebrating their achievements which, until this project, had not been officially recognised.
One past player commented “When I used to talk about my playing career I sometimes felt that if people went online to check these things (as it’s a major thing!) they should expect there to be something in the archives, but there wouldn’t have been so I used to think they may think I’m not telling the truth . . . So I stopped telling people.”
The archives collected at HQ were used in several ways throughout the project such as:
to provide evidence for the awarding of heritage numbers and caps at the Pride of the Lionesses event and inducting the first women into the Rugby League Hall of Fame
for display in the Life with the Lionesses: 25 Years of Women’s International Rugby League touring exhibition and exhibition currently on at Pontefract Museum
to increase women’s representation in a male dominated game
Our biggest cataloguing achievements have been to make two major collections accessible for the first time: the Julia Lee and Jackie Sheldon collections. Julia Lee was the first woman to referee men’s professional rugby league. Jackie Sheldon, a former player, was Assistant Coach for the Great Britain squad in 1996 and Head Coach for the Great Britain squad in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003.
We would like to say a special thank you to Julia Lee and Jackie Sheldon for entrusting us with their collections!
There are now 38 boxes of archives about women’s rugby league!
We would also like to say a great big thank you to the volunteers Jane Auty, Dave Backhouse, Ceri Evans and Charlie Spencer who have collectively put in around 700 hours working with the archives at HQ.
We are absolutely delighted to now be home to the 80,000+ items in the Brass Band Archive. The collection includes scores, recordings, photographs, trophies, programmes and more. All this belongs to Brass Bands England, the national body which supports the genre, who have worked closely with specialist staff at the University to prepare the materials for the move to Heritage Quay.
The collection’s arrival in Huddersfield has been years in the making. The archive was started in a flat in Wigan, by two band players keen to preserve the banding movement’s history. It was acquired by Brass Bands England in 2018 and moved to their store in Barnsley which they decided what to do with it. Luckily for Huddersfield, they thought that Heritage Quay might be interested in taking it in and making it available. BBE recruited staff and volunteers who spent many painstaking hours sorting, listing and re-boxing the materials before they made the short journey to Heritage Quay. As one of banding’s heartlands, it is fitting that the collection is coming to live in Huddersfield as a brilliant new resource for the musical life of the town. The catalogue, which lists all the items in the collection, can be found online here.
To celebrate the arrival of this extraordinary collection in Huddersfield, a new exhibition ‘Brass Bands: History and Culture’ is on display from 4 March to 22 April 2023. Alongside stories of star conductors and gigantic contests are those of local organisations and self-taught music. The exhibition explores how banding became a hugely popular movement, attracting audiences of tens of thousands. It also looks at distinctive aspects of banding culture, through uniforms, trophies, photographs and letters.
The exhibition is free, and open to the public from Monday to Saturday. There will be lunchtime tours of the exhibition on 15 March and 19 April at 1pm.
As my job has entailed scanning and creating metadata for items in these collections, I’ve been able to leaf through concert programmes and composer magazines from 1942 up until the present. Even though I specialise in contemporary music, I never knew the extent to which these organisations were active in Britain over the 20th and into the 21st centuries until I dug into these collections. It was incredible to see the amount of new works created and performed in Huddersfield and across the UK, both by composers and ensembles I recognised and those not in the history books. On occasion I would find a professor of mine pictured when they were younger and styling long flowing hair, or I would recognise a composer from my home country, Canada, appearing in a Huddersfield concert. The international esteem of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is certainly evident in this collection, with the likes of John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich, Gyorgy Ligeti, Robert Ashley and other famous modernist and experimental composers having visited the town. I wonder if Cage foraged for wild mushrooms in woods I’ve walked in, or if Yannis Xenakis was impressed by architecture of the Queensgate Market Hall—a building that relates in design to his own designs and compositions.
Probably my favourite find that stood out historically was in the SPNM’s archive. In digitising programmes of the organisation, which started during the second World War, I came across a studio recital scheduled for May 8th, 1945. Written in pencil across the top is ‘Cancelled – VE day’. Clearly the musicians and audience were on the streets celebrating. I’m impressed to think that the SPNM started a series of new music in a bombed-out London, and it reminds me of the value of making art rather than war.
The materials that are now available online include the ‘Composer’ magazine that was published from 1958 – 1987; HCMF’s programmes and booklets since 1978; and SPNM’s journal, New Notes, that ran from 1990 – 2009. All these materials are also available to view at Heritage Quay.
I have had 2 other roles at Heritage Quay: Student Helper and Project Assistant for the Derek Bailey Cataloguing Project. My role as Project Assistant consisted of myself and my colleague Barbora Vacková cataloguing the archive of the British free improvising guitarist, Derek Bailey. This archive is now available to view at Heritage Quay by appointment. More information on how to book an appointment to view archives at Heritage Quay can be found here.
We are delighted to announce that a unique collection of rare and valuable items relating to the former poet laureate Ted Hughes has been acquired by the University of Huddersfield and is now available at Heritage Quay.
Dr Steve Ely, Director of the Ted Hughes Network at the University comments: “We are delighted to have acquired Mark Hinchliffe’s outstanding collection. It comprises over 170 items, including signed first editions of dozens of Hughes’ trade, limited-edition and fine-press publications; original letters written by Hughes and his first wife, the poet Sylvia Plath; signed and annotated books from Hughes’s personal collection; and, some absolutely unique items: a very fine ceramic jaguar sculpted by Hughes in 1967, the only intact example anywhere in the world of Hughes’s work in the plastic arts.
“There is an album containing hundreds of photographs, including some previously unknown photographs of both Hughes and Plath; a holograph manuscript of the radio play ‘Orpheus & Eurydice’ with some significant differences to the broadcast and published versions, and, a bespoke edition of the Gehenna Press’ limited edition Howls & Whispers, comprising the original fine-book, 8 original watercolours by Leonard Baskin – two of which are pictured here – and a unique copper-plate, engraved portrait of Sylvia Plath.”
“Mark was a significant figure in the international Ted Hughes scholarly and collecting communities, a friend and correspondent of Ted and other members of the Hughes family, a member of the Ted Hughes Society, a founding member and chair of the Elmet Trust, a key figure in the development of the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival in the Upper Calder Valley, a scholar and a published poet – a significant figure in his own right.
“He was a great supporter of the work of the Ted Hughes Network at the University, and it is fitting that his collection should be retained in his hometown.”
Julie Hinchliffe comments: “I am absolutely delighted that the University of Huddersfield has acquired Mark’s extensive Ted Hughes collection. It was his wish that the collection should remain intact and be available for academics, students and the public to enjoy as much as he did. I know that he would be very pleased with its new home.”
The Collection will be housed in the University’s archive, Heritage Quay. Dr Rebecca Bowd, University Archivist comments: “We are thrilled to be able to preserve Mark Hinchliffe’s fantastic collection at Heritage Quay where for the first time it will be freely accessible to the public. The Ted Hughes Archive at Heritage Quay already holds three other Ted Hughes-related deposits: the Donald Crossley Papers, the Christopher Reid Papers and a comprehensive collection of Hughes’ fine and small press work.
“The purchase of this collection cements Heritage Quay’s reputation as a must-visit archive for Ted Hughes scholars world-wide and we can’t wait to welcome researchers to explore the collection here at the University of Huddersfield.
Heritage Quay will also work with the Ted Hughes Network to arrange public-facing events to engage people with the collection—a symposium, talks, poetry readings, exhibitions, creative writing workshops and events for young people are planned. The first of these, an exhibition featuring highlights from the collection will take place at Heritage Quay from late June to mid-September.”
Dr Simon Thurley CBE, Chair, National Heritage Memorial Fund comments: “The National Heritage Memorial Fund are delighted to support the University of Huddersfield with £33,775 to enable the purchase of the final five works from Mark Hinchcliffe’s private collection. The works that we have supported are considered unique and will now be shared widely by the university’s Ted Hughes Network & Heritage Quay, including through children’s workshops and creative writing activities.”
The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, which has contributed £35,000, adds that “‘we are delighted to be able to support the acquisition of the Hinchcliffe Archive by the University of Huddersfield. Not only is it an important collection of material which explores the life and work of Ted Hughes, but the collection is fascinating in how it reflects the relationship between Hughes and Hinchcliffe; it has much research potential for students and academics alike, both national and international.”
Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “It is fitting that this extensive Ted Hughes collection has been acquired by the University of Huddersfield in the poet’s home county. I am delighted that UK Government funding through the National Heritage Memorial Fund has enabled it to happen. These brilliant works will now be available to academics, students and members of the public where they will provide endless inspiration and enjoyment for years to come.”
The Society for the Promotion of New Music (originally The Committee for the Promotion of New Music) was founded in London, 1943, by composer Francis Chargin, for the purpose of promoting the creation, performance and appreciation of new music by young and unestablished composers. The SPNM was a membership organisation which sought to find the best new composers and to help support their careers, especially in the UK. All schools, styles and nationalities (as long as the composer was a UK resident) were welcome. Composers would submit work to the SPNM and, if their work was found to be of merit, the young composer would have a chance to hear it performed in concert. The panel reviewing submissions were not looking for masterpieces and expected works to be rough and ready in part, allowing for the inexperience of the composer. What the SPNM’s reading panel were looking for was originality and potential. After the performance, constructive feedback was provided not only by professional musicians but audience members as well. If a composer’s work was judged to be of outstanding quality, then it would find its way onto the List of Recommended Works, meaning that it would be recommended for publication and performance outside of the SPNM.
Despite its charitable ambitions, the SPNM faced criticism throughout its history. The SPNM’s chief concern of providing self-help to composers meant that the music played at its concerts was not always popular with a general audience. The SPNM’s criteria for choosing its repertoire was also broad and inconsistent. Although older and more established composers’ work still counted as ‘new music’, if the composer was ‘unrecognised’, some felt that there was a bias in favour of younger composers. Nevertheless, the SPNM’s significance should not be undermined by these criticisms. The organisation helped a number of contemporary classical composers gain recognition. Composers such as Harrison Birtwisle, Roger Smalley, and Peter Zinovieff benefitted from the SPNM’s support. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Music (6th edition), in its first 50 years, over ‘8,500 composers were represented in its concerts and over 9,000 scores were submitted to it’. In 2008, the SPNM merged with other organisations, including the British Music Information Centre, to form Sound and Music, ‘the national charity for new music in the UK’.
The SPNM’s archive at Heritage Quay contains records relating to the administration of the Society, including correspondence and papers, recordings, calls for work from composers, and programmes.
Have a look at our recent post on Arthur Arathoon Paul, whose fascinating story was unearthed during work on the SPNM archive.
This collection was deposited at the University of Huddersfield in 2005 and forms part of the Non-conformist collections.
Wesleyan and Methodist heritage is an integral part of the history of countries worldwide The Society has regional Societies one of which is Yorkshire which started in 1962.
Methodism is a Christian denomination which began in mid-eighteenth Century in Britain by John Wesley although the sect originated in Germany. The history of Methodism can be found here. The site explains how the different sects were combined to form the United Methodist Church:
In the twentieth century most of the different Methodist denominations united together. The New Connexion, Bible Christians and United Methodist Free Churches (another breakaway following a major controversy in the Wesleyan church from 1849) came together in 1907, forming the United Methodist Church. That in turn joined with the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists in 1932.
The Wesley Historical Society website states the aims of the society – which were set down at its formation in 1893 – were to promote: 1. The study of the history and literature of early Methodism. 2. Research into the Wesley family. 3. Investigation into the beginnings and development of Methodism. And afterwards this scope widened to include:- 1. The history of all sections of The British Methodist Church that United in 1932. 2. Other Wesleyan and Methodist denominations.
This is a wide ranging, nationally important resource comprising over 13,000 books and archive items collected by the Yorkshire branch of the Wesley Historical Society. Items include Methodist Magazines, Conference Reports, Class Tickets, Biographies of prominent and interesting members of the Methodist Church and various documents relating to chapel events. Histories of many of the chapels are included although no registers are held in this resource. The Collection also has circuit plans, books, postcards and photographs showing individual Ministers, churches and various outings or events held by the Methodists, directories, histories of Chapels, class tickets, conference reports, bills showing forthcoming events, Methodist publications such as Methodist Recorder.
When the collection was deposited it was not electronically listed but details were held in a card index system. This is still available as a cross-reference tool in the Heritage Quay search room. The Collection catalogue is now available via our website at www.heritagequay.org. The collection is still growing as deposits are made each year by the Society.
WHS/5939, The Life of Ida May Haigh: The Child Vocalist of Golcar. This book is quite attractive and tells the story of her life, although ends sadly as Ida May died very young.
WHS/11881 Illuminated document showing the historical genealogy of the Otley circuit.
Society of Cirplanologists
Registers of Methodist Circuit Plans 1770-1860 produced by the Society of Cirplanologists with supplements at various stages e.g. 1963, 1970
These plans detail ministers and lay preachers who were grouped into circuits. By 1770 this lead to the development of a matrix for the quarterly scheme of appointments which in turn formed into a directory showing preacher’s names, addresses details of chapels and other information. The Cirplanologists study these and they publish their research which is useful for family research.
Many of the collections in Heritage Quay demonstrate the ways that women sought opportunities to acquire education and build more independent and prosperous lives for themselves. From the early part of the 19th century the records of the Huddersfield Female Educational Institute and subsequent incarnations of the Technical Colleges demonstrate how education for women transformed from the traditional ‘female’ skills of cookery and needlework, to more academic and industrial courses and how opportunities to pursue technical and higher education increasingly began to open up to them.
The experience of women in employment can be examined through the oral histories of nurses gathered in the Graham Thurgood archive, and documents relating to women’s employment in nursing and midwifery (Huddersfield Royal Infirmary archive; Ruby Ward archive). Women as advocates, both politically and for social causes, e.g. pensioners rights, can be traced through the records of women’s groups in political parties (Colne Valley, Denby Dale and Huddersfield Labour Parties) or in individual collections (Noreen Logan archive). While the extensive arts and music collections at Heritage Quay (British Music Collection, Mikron Theatre Company, Huddersfield Amateur Operatic Society…) contain an immeasurable number of stories that reveal the lives, careers and influence of women on the national and international cultural landscape.
The Rugby Football League (RFL) was founded in Huddersfield in 1895, so it is fitting that the archives of the RFL, the Huddersfield Past Players Association, the Up and Under oral history project and the papers of MEP Terry Wynn, can be accessed in Heritage Quay.
The rugby league collections present an unmatched history of the sport through unique documents such as minute books, player registers and correspondence. There is also the opportunity to get close to rare match programmes, photographs, tickets and one-of-a-kind shirts, caps and balls.
The archives offer a fascinating insight into social history from the late 19th century to the present day. At Heritage Quay you can explore the history and identity of the working classes; understand the importance of gender and regional identity in the sport; and discover the international reach of a sport born in Huddersfield.
Smaller collections on cricket are also held, including a full set of Wisden.
Find out about our events exploring the collections- many free
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