Friday, 19 October 2018

Educating Cottingham: Mark Kirby's Lasting Legacy of the Mark Kirby Charity

22 October 2018 is the tercentenary of the death of Hull merchant, Mark Kirby. Born in Cottingham in 1638, Kirby imported and exported a variety of goods and was an extremely wealthy man. Hull History Centre holds a record of port transactions known as the ‘Wool House Book’, which records that in just one day in 1716 Kirby exported 78 tons of lead, 188 tons of red lead and 1,000 dozen men’s stockings [C WW].

Wool House Book recording Kirby's accounts, 1693-1703 [C WW]

Papers held at Hull History Centre include a pedigree showing Kirby family members [U DDSY/105/9], a book said to belong to Kirby [U DDSY4/7/1], and his will [U DDSY/110/8] which shows that he owned properties all over the East Riding. The will also records various bequests, including one to the vicar of the ‘high church in Hull’ who received 2 guineas and a pulpit cloth for preaching the sermon at Mark’s funeral. But his most generous bequest, now known as ‘The Mark Kirby Charity’, was the gift of two pieces of land to the ‘Free School’ in Cottingham:

‘I give and devise…the yearly rents and profits…shall be paid to the schoolmaster…and to his successors forever for teaching 10 poor children whose parents are not of the ability to pay for their learning’

Mark Kirby's signature and seal at the foot of his will [U DDSY/110/8]

Kirby’s bequest was not responsible for establishing the school as it was already in existence, however, his generosity led to the school becoming known as ‘the Mark Kirby Free School’ and it survived as such until 1876. By 1860 a new school had been erected at the side of the churchyard in Church Passage, which was later taken over by St Mary’s Church and is now the church’s coffee shop. The original school building was situated in the churchyard and can be seen in an engraving which appeared in the ‘Gentlemen’s Magazine’ in 1797.

When the school ceased to function, the charity continued to exist. The trustees took several years to decide upon a new scheme which would be true to the spirit of the original bequest. Kirby had made his bequest to support pupils in the parish of Cottingham. In 1897 Reverend Malet Lambert was appointed Chairman of the trustees, and under his leadership the decision was taken to use the proceeds for scholarships. There were to be 6 general scholarships and 2 for pupil teachers.

By the 1920s these had become scholarships to high schools. By the 1960s grants were being awarded for school uniforms and today grants are given for musical instruments, school trips and children’s activities. The bequest has become a lasting legacy from a man who was well known in his day, and whose family went on to play an important part in the history of the East Riding.

Mark Kirby's notebook [U DDSY4/7/1]

Kirby’s son, another Mark, must have inherited his father’s business acumen as he was known locally as ‘the Merchant Prince’. Kirby Jr’s financial success allowed him to purchase the Sledmere estate. On his death, the estate passed to the children of his sister Mary who had married Richard Sykes, and thus Sledmere passed into the hands of the Sykes family. Their descendants still own the estate today and the house is a significant part of the local East Yorkshire landscape.

Elaine Moll, Archivist/Librarian (Hull City Archives and Local Studies)

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

This Month in Hull: October

After a month’s hiatus, (because we forgot about September!) our This Month in Hull blog is back to give you some more historical facts. So here they are, some interesting things you may or may not know happened in Hull during the month of October.

Beginning in 1541, on the 2nd October, a visit by Henry VIII to Hull is recorded. The purpose of the visit was to inspect the town’s defences. As a result of his visit the following recommendations were made: Suffolk Palace, once standing on the site now occupied by The Deep, was to become a citadel surrounded by a moat which was to be scoured; ramparts, which had fallen into disrepair, were to be brought back into a fit state for defensive purposes; and the town’s gates were to be provided with guns.

Illustration of Beverley Gate in the 19th century, this would have formed part of the defensive walls under siege in 1643 [U DDMM/30/6]

In 1643, on the 11th October, a heavy siege of the town was broken. The town had been under siege from Royalist forces for weeks, putting the inhabitants under immense strain. After building up a strong force, the town’s governor, Lord Fairfax, ordered the Parliamentarian troops to advance out of the town and a battle ensued. The siege ended the following day and Fairfax declared the 11th October to be a public holiday of thanksgiving, which it remained until the restoration.

Illustration of the south blockhouse of the citadel, c.100 years after the defensive improvements ordered by Henry VIII [U DDMM/30/8]

In 1926, on the 13th October, Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales) visited Hull to lay the foundation stone of Ferens Art Gallery. The gallery was funded by MP, philanthropist and major figure in the History of Reckitt and Sons, Thomas Ferens. His philanthropy also included the donation of £250,000 in 1926/27 to found the Hull University College (now the University of Hull).

Ferens Art Gallery shortly after opening in 1927 [C DIMB/1/1/41]

In 1939, on the 16th October, Hull’s New Theatre opened in Kingston Square. The first ever production was a performance of ‘Me and My Girl’ by the Hull Repertory Company. Whilst, we don’t have a flyer for this particular performance, we do have many thousands of theatre play bills for various local theatres which have existed in Hull since the 18th century.

New Theatre after a performance in 1954 [Lp.792 NEW/2]

In 1985, on the 8th October, Clive Sullivan died in Hull aged 42. An internationally renowned rugby player, Sullivan played for both Hull KR and Hull FC Rugby League teams. He was so loved locally that a section of the A63 was renamed Clive Sullivan Way in honour of his memory.

Clive Sullivan playing for Hull FC [Local Studies]

As always, if you want to find out more, drop into Hull History Centre to see what records we have!

Claire Weatherall, Assistant Archivist (Hull University Archives)

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Museums and Digital Memory

On Monday 3rd September, Chris Awre and I travelled to the British Museum to contribute to a conference titled Museums and Digital Memory which was a jointly organised by the British Museum and the Digital Preservation Coalition

Over 300 people attended which shows the level of appetite within museums to start getting to grips with digital preservation. Julie Allinson (lead developer at CoSector) and I presented a keynote paper introducing the City of Culture digital archive and talking about our journey towards a digital archive system then Chris and Steph Taylor (senior consultant at CoSector) lead a packed workshop about identifying paths and options to choosing a digital solution. 

Despite there being obvious alignments of value between archives, libraries and museums I have to admit that I didn’t know a lot about the inner workings of the museums sector. I was surprised to learn then, that museums are generally quite far behind the curve when it comes to digital preservation. 

Surprised because I had assumed that the conversations my own profession is always engaged in around how we ensure that future generations are able to access what is being created today would be reflected in the museums world - which after all has similar aims in capturing the way we live.

Surprised also as it’s plain to see when you visit museums that many are doing sterling work in finding creative and intelligent ways to improve access to their existing collections through digital means. There are clearly a lot of incredibly digitally literate people working in the sector but it would seem their skills have not yet been turned to preservation.  

There was a lot of talk throughout the day about digitisation. Digitisation is the process of scanning or otherwise capturing an analogue object so that you end up with a surrogate digital object (e.g. scanning a photographic print so that you have a jpeg file, or converting a VHS into a digital format such as mp4). This is a good way to ensure that that analogue original is handled less (especially if it’s something you expect a lot of people to access) and is therefore liable to last longer; however, we have to make sure we are always asking the question: how do we make sure that digital surrogates have any kind of longevity?

It is a sad fact that in the last 20 or so years (essentially since digitisation technologies have become more affordable and accessible) museums and archives have invested a truly monumental amount of time and money into digitisation projects but often with little strategy when it comes to preserving their output. 

I had an illuminating conversation at lunchtime with someone who has just started working at an institution that has done a lot of digitisation projects over the years. Their job now is to track down what had become of the output of these projects and implement a digital preservation solution. They are finding that hard drives used in 10-15 year old digitisation projects are failing (as we would expect - hard drives do not last forever) and are having to commission costly data retrieval as the contents weren’t even backed up at the point of creation. You have to admit there is a certain irony in memory institutions being so short sighted!

Julie presenting about the City of Culture collaboration
The good news is that museums don’t have to start from nothing: libraries and archives have been developing the field of digital preservation for a significant amount of time now and so there is a wealth of research and experience to draw upon. Digital preservation systems, once only found in national institutions are becoming more affordable and user-friendly and there is an established community who are more than happy to share expertise and advice. 

We received some really good feedback from other attendees and the conference organisers who were especially pleased with how we managed to deliver a presentation that was interesting to digital preservation old hands and newbies alike. We’re really proud of the work that has gone into the City of Culture digital archive so it was a great opportunity to share our enthusiasm and talk to others about how they could potentially go about tackling their own digital collections.  

There was appetite on the day for this conference to be repeated next year and I think it would be really interesting to find out what steps in implementing digital preservation attendees have taken by then.

Laura Giles
City of Culture Digital Archivist

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

This Month in Hull: August

For anyone who needs some good pub quiz facts, we present the August edition of 'This Month in Hull'.

In 1833, on the 12th, a public meeting was held to decide how to commemorate the Hull MP and anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce. Two resolutions were passed: ‘That it is the opinion of this meeting that an obelisk or pillar will form the most striking and appropriate memorial’; and ‘That a subscription be entered into for the purpose of carrying the proposed object into effect.’

2 August 1833, Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette, announcement of the death of William Wilberforce in his 74th year of age

List of subscribers to the fund for a memorial to William Wilberforce, Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette, 16 Aug 1833

In 1834, on the 1st, the foundation stone was laid for the Wilberforce monument at its original location at the corner of St John’s Street, close to where Beverley Gate once stood. It was laid by Richard Bethell MP of Rise, the Chairman of the Memorial Committee. The statue of Wilberforce was added after the building of the obelisk on 12 Nov 1835. The following is an image of the Wilberforce statue in its original location on the Queens Square side of the old bridge leading to Whitefriargate, before it was moved to its current location outside of Hull College.

Illustration showing the Wilberforce Monument in its original location, 1933 [Lp.731.73.WILB/6]

In 1834, on the 11th, the Hull and Selby Railway Company was formed. The History Centre holds plans and section drawings showing the line being 'A railway from Selby through Hemmingborough, Wressle, Howden, Eastrington, Blacktoft, South Cave, Brantingham, Elloughton with Brough, Welton with Melton, North Ferriby and Kirkella, Hessle and Newington to Humber Dock.' The plans are accompanied by a book of reference for engineers, and were created by Walker, Burgess and A. Comrie in 1834 [C CQP/2].

In 1840, on the 7th, renovation work was carried out on the clock in the tower of Holy Trinity Church. Originally built by Joseph Hindley of York with one face, the clock subsequently had four faces. Our Local Studies collections include an illustration of Holy Trinity in 1829, prior to the work being undertaken [Lp.796.5 HOL/15].

In 1845, on the 24th, Stoneferry Waterworks supplied its first water, processed from the River Hull, after the foundation stone was laid on 29 April 1844. Among the records relating to the waterworks is a postcard showing a view from across the river [C DMX/181/1].

In 1856, T.J. Smith bought a retail chemist shop at 61 Whitefriargate. This business would grow to become the global company of Smith & Nephew. The Whitefriargate premises was the business' first site before production was relocated to Neptune Street on Hessle Road.

Extract from a Hull Trade Directory showing occupiers of properties on Whitefriargate, 1857

As always, if you would like to find out more, come down to the History Centre to see what else we hold...

Claire Weatherall, Assistant Archivist (Hull University Archives)