Mystery Solved!

This week we have used records from the Rugby League collection to solve two mysteries about the playing colours of former rugby league clubs.

In the early 20th century there were a number of professional or semi-professional rugby league teams who no longer exist and about which very little is known.

Two mysteries we have come across concern the playing colours of Wigan Highfield (who played from 1880-1895 and from 1902-1933) and Runcorn (who played from around 1876-1918).

Rugby league historians have speculated that Wigan Highfield’s colours were yellow and blue, and that Runcorn’s may have been yellow, green and white. But as no colour photographs survive of either team it has, until now, only been possible to speculate.

While cataloguing the Official Guides to the season (a yearly volume which include information for rugby league administrators such as laws of the game, club contacts, and fixtures) a section at the back of the books was discovered which lists club headquarters and club colours…

So (drumroll please!) we are pleased to announce that the official colours for Wigan Highfield were a dark blue jersey with a red band, and blue shorts. Runcorn changed their colours on more than one occasion. In 1911 the club’s colours were myrtle green, but then in 1911 they changed their colours to cherry and white, and in 1913 they changed again to royal blue with a white collar.

Official Guide
Official Guide

Repackaging heritage textiles

Here in the archives we work hard to give all the records the best possibly chance of survival in the future. We repackage into acid-free boxes, follow careful handling guidelines – and even wear the white gloves so beloved by television historians from time to time!

This week we’ve been working with the Rugby League, whose collection is deposited here at the University Archives, to provide advice on handling and packaging a collection that they have recently purchased as part of their heritage work.

As the Rugby League’s new collection includes a lot of shirts (so fans of heritage shirts should watch this space for news of exhibitions!) we spent some time developing a packaging system which would follow good practice guidelines for packaging textiles, but also allow the shirts to fit in the collection’s standard boxes. After a little experimentation we came up with a method which is reasonably straightforward to carry out, using acid-free tissue and a series of folds that ensure that a layer of tissue is placed between all of the folds in the shirt. We then created a step by step photo guide to allow the heritage project assistant to carry out the repackaging unsupervised.

From this...
From this…

To this!

To this!

Tour de France 1936!

This week we’ll see the Tour de France come to Huddersfield – but in November 1936 Huddersfield Rugby League Club went on their own ‘Tour in France’!

Tour in France programme, 1936











The Huddersfield Rugby Football League Club (then known as Huddersfield Cricket and Athletic Club) was one of several teams that went across the Channel in the 1930s to help establish and build support for rugby league in France.

This programme of events shows the Huddersfield team played two matches on their 1936 trip; one versus Paris, and one versus Bordeaux. According to newspaper reports the Bordeaux match took place in bitterly cold and wet weather but, despite only being the second season of rugby league in France, still managed to attract 8,000 spectators!

Rugby League on Film

Last week we had leading rugby league historian Professor Tony Collins visiting the archive to discuss rugby league in the First World War with a team from BBC Look North.

The recording can be seen on Look North East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in early August… but here’s a behind-the-scenes photograph of the filming here at the University of Huddersfield Archives and Special Collections!

Look North visit the archives