Hello, my name is Tobias Leech, and I’m a final year history student at the University of Huddersfield who has been undertaking a work placement as a cataloguing assistant for Heritage Quay.
I helped to catalogue the World Netball Archive, including everything from photographs at championship matches to trophies and sports magazines. Working with them all has been brilliant, but I especially loved cataloguing the donated photographs as they all served as their own little puzzle. It was so fun to piece together the story of the picture through nametags, articles of clothing, decorations dotted around the room or familiar faces and locations. It let me use an entirely separate set of skills I had not been able to use on my history course and made my hours spent at the archives the highlight of my week. The World Netball archive is now available for viewing here.
My time at Heritage Quay has not only been exciting and fun but also inspiring as I processed and researched the items I was cataloguing; they all began combining and correlating into a story. Across decades, people have given their lives to Netball, from playing, to refereeing, to creating and running organisations dedicated to it. Photographs of players and coaches smiling are a celebration of multiple lifetimes of hard work and perseverance. A snapshot of a player aiming to
shoot became a display of the discipline and effort these athletes went through as discussed in their interviews in newspapers, magazines and reports alike. Going through this archive gave me a new perspective on the sport I was certainly aware of but not particularly familiar with. It taught me the history of an international force built on the foundations of equality, fair play and humanitarianism.
Even better, working at Heritage Quay has given me a new appreciation of the heritage sector and a whole new understanding of how history works. I would read through an article from the 1990s, and then later see the same events discussed with hindsight
in the mid-2000s. History, and more broadly, time is always moving, and through cataloguing these items I was seeing first hand revisions and versions of history being made. When I handled official documents from World Netball, I was getting to see through their eyes what the last 30 years of progress has meant. It has been said history is written by the victors, but working at Heritage Quay has shown me it is more true that instead history is written first come first served, and that often people, organisations or other third parties will already have their thumbs on the scale. My time with the archive team has involved practical experiences as well, from handling items, cataloguing them, and wrapping and protecting larger items for storage.
Working at Heritage Quay has been fantastic, and I would recommend visiting the archive and viewing the collections (which can be found here). My time as a work placement has given me a new appreciation for archival work and for Netball as a sport and international phenomenon.
Tobias Leech, BA History Student