Friday, 27 February 2015

Some departing thoughts

As I leave Hull to take up a post at Durham University, I’ve been reviewing memories from my time in Hull over the past 11 years, on campus and at the History Centre.  It has been an eventful few years, but a few memories stand out:

Judy with Councillor Gemmell, Martin Taylor (Head of Hull
City Archives) and Richard Hesletine  (University Librarian)
- writing the first stage Heritage Lottery Fund bid in autumn 2005 (having probably spent more time than was wise over the summer following the cricket)
 - watching the rather balletic movements of the drillers, diggers and concrete pumps during the pile driving for the History Centre; and then numerous days walking round the site with the architects, in a hard hat and big boots, thinking ‘how did this happen to me - we are having a building built for us!’
- the challenge of co-ordinating the move of about 2500 shelves of material from campus to the History Centre, all in the right order
- the energising busy-ness of our first day opening at the History Centre in 2010 - with BBC Radio Humberside broadcasting from 6am and welcoming our first visitors and researchers at 9.30
- days spent discussing digital preservation with Simon, Chris, Richard and colleagues from the US- realising that we knew less at the end of the day than we did at the beginning
- a wonderful but poignant day with jazz playing in the background, boxing up the papers in Alan Plater's study in his house in London
- watching children run up to the Larkin Toad outside the History Centre, followed by their slightly weary parents.

But I think my most important memory is just how much I have enjoyed working every single day - even when it has been hard or challenging.  I have been very lucky and privileged to have played a part in the creation of the History Centre and to work with so many great colleagues.  I will take a lot of Hull’s spirit and creativity with me - and continue to let people know what a great place it is.

Best wishes
Judy Burg, University Archivist

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Children's Recollections of the Blitz

At a meeting of the Hull Education, Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee held on the 22nd January 1942, the Director of Education submitted a letter from the Ministry of Home Security requesting that children of senior school age and over be asked to write essays on their experiences in air raids. The Director was authorized to make arrangements for the writing of the essays without waiting for confirmation of the minutes.

Within our Local Studies collections we hold twenty nine essays written by children of Springburn Street School in response to this request under the title of "What Happened to me and what I did in the air raids”.

The essays, all written in February 1942, are a poignant reminder of how children were affected by the relentless bombing inflicted on the city during 1941 and the early part of 1942. Complementing our official records they convey the horrors of being in an air raid shelter and listening to the bombs falling around you and the uncertainty of whether your home, family, friends will still be there at the end of a raid.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War we would like to invite the authors of the essays to come forward and discuss further their experiences and be the first to take part in our oral history project aimed at capturing the voices of those on the home front during the Second World War.

The essays were written by:
Florence Atkinson aged 11.5
Margaret Bennett age 11
Enid Billaney 
Jean Burroughs age 11
Evelyn Canvess age 10.5
Hilda Chalk age 11
Edna Dean age 11
Irene Docherty age 11
Rita Drydale age 12
Ida Ilsworthy age 11
Olive Featherstone age 10
Edna Fewster
Dorothy Fieldsend age 11
Alwyn Hornsby
Vera Hunter age 11
Audrey Ingram age 10
Edith Knott age 11
Audrey Leaman age 11
Eileen Moore age 11
Nancy Nunn age 11
Mary Oxley age 12
Sylvia Palmer age 12
Elsie Smith age 12
Betty Start age 12 years 2 months
Vera Stephen 
Winnie Stephen age 12
Sheila Stothard age 11
Winifred Stubbins age 11
Betty Wood age 11.5
If you recognise yourself or a relative, please do get in touch. We can be contacted on 01482 317504. We would love to hear from you!

Carol Tanner
Access & Collections Manager, Hull History Centre

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Hannah's Top 5 Francis Johnson Illustrations: Then and Now

Having studied architectural history at university, the opportunity for me to digitise Francis Johnson's Grand Tour diary could not have been more exciting!

Filled with detailed architectural illustrations, photographs and musings of the architect's travels across Europe, it was quite a challenge for me to choose my favourite. 

After spending much time whittling it down to 20 from over 360 pages, I eventually settled on 5 illustrations from the diary which I thought best represented the wide range of locations Johnson visited and also because of the technical skill and levels of realism involved. I also really liked his attention to detail with micro-architectural features and his artistic style of combining pencil sketches with watercolour.

From Austria to Italy, here are my top 5 Francis Johnson illustrations alongside photographs of how the buildings look today.

1. Karlskirche (Vienna, Austria)

Johnson's illustration of Karlskirche from p237.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, photo by Herzi Pinki.

2. Basilica of Constantine in the Roman Forum (Rome, Italy)

Johnson's illustration of the Basilica of Constantine from p75.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

3. Sch├Ânborn Chapel (W├╝rzburg, Germany)

Johnson's illustration of Schonborn Chapel from p315.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

4. Santa Croce cloister (Florence, Italy)

Johnson's illustration of the cloister at Santa Croce from p165.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

5. Palazzo Pubblico courtyard (Siena, Italy)

Johnson's illustration of the courtyard at Palazzo Pubblico from p103.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

These illustrations are only a small insight into the sights of Johnson's Grand Tour. The intention is to place the diary online so it can be viewed and enjoyed by everybody. We are looking at a number of 'page turner' type applications that can be integrated with our digital repository Hydra. There will be more news on this as and when we finalise the solution!

Hannah Rice
Transforming Archives Trainee

Friday, 13 February 2015

Written Record, Spoken Word Jewish community update

Work is progressing on our Written Record, Spoken Word Jewish project with the main emphasis at the moment being on finding material within the collections for the exhibition. 

Elspeth and Paul are busy searching through documents and photographs, scanning the most relevant to our exhibition themes, and writing captions to accompany them. 

Themes completed to date are: 
  • migration from Europe
  • arriving in Hull
  • political life 
  • leisure & culture.

Working closely with our graphic designer, Ian, we are learning new and innovative ways to present information that is both interesting and visually engaging. We are looking forward to seeing the first drafts.

With 17 Oral histories completed the work of transcribing them is well underway by our team of five dedicated volunteers. They too are learning about the culture and language of the Jewish community as well as the skills required to produce an accurate transcription.

Carol Tanner, 
Access & Collections Manager, Hull History Centre

Thursday, 5 February 2015

February ‘History Makers’: ‘Rugby Revelry'

Well I hope you all enjoyed our January launch. We definitely did here at the History Centre and thanks to everyone who took part in making it a success.  Don’t forget to check our Facebook pages to see what we got up to and who is our first ever ‘History Makers’ competition winner… 

scrum down as one player is stretchered off!
Our next event is on Saturday 7th Feb 9:30-12:30we will be building and crafting all things rugby league related.

Join us as we design our own rugby kits and match day programmes, or get involved as we build stadiums, and recreate our favourite Rugby League moments with minifigs!

There will be more prizes and a few surprises too… as a special treat we will have Lego models of Craven Park and the KC Stadium on display! 

KC stadia - home of Hull FC (courtesy
The creator of these awesome models will be on hand to tell you all about how he designed and built them both. Also, look out for The Airlie Bird and Rufus the Robin as a little birdy told us they might turn up to join in the fun…

Huge thanks to Rugby League Cares, Hull KR and Hull FC who have generously sponsored this event! 

‘History Makers’ Team

Monday, 2 February 2015

Visits Around Hull Part 1: A Visit to Blaydes House

Happy New Year (very belated I know)!
Now we are going to start this year with a multi-part mini-series – exciting! Over the next few months I will be visiting various buildings in Hull to investigate all things FJ related. As well as allowing me to escape the office for a while, my purpose is to undertake research and collect photographs for a top secret reason that has something to do with the project launch in August this year…

Recently I visited Blaydes House on High Street to see some of FJ’s handiwork.
View of Blaydes House
In 1989 the Georgian Society for East Yorkshire commissioned the firm to undertake restoration work to the external elevations of the building. This included the replacement of guttering, repainting, joinery repairs, alterations to windows, and restoration of columns and cornice work on the entrance portico. They also requested that a condition survey of the building be undertaken prior to the commencement of work on an adjacent site.
I was shown around by the very helpful Martin Wilcox, a lecturer for Hull University whose department is currently based at the property. One aspect that struck me was the triptych window at the centre of the rear elevation. If you read the December blog last year, you might remember that I visited Burton Agnes Hall before Christmas? 
Well, two windows designed and installed during FJ’s restoration work of the Long Gallery at Burton Agnes were very much similar to this one. It was also similar to a matching pair in the Georgian chapel at the Charterhouse in Hull. To the untrained eye, I could not tell the difference between the original windows and FJ’s Burton Agnes design. 
Entrance hall with the triptych window
As I’ve come to expect, the result of the restoration work undertaken was perfectly in keeping with the authenticity of the building. Not only was architectural style taken into account, but great care seemed to have been taken in the selection of appropriate materials. Further research led me to a schedule of repairs to be undertaken which showed that great care was taken to preserve old glass, re-use sash weights and ironmongery, and precisely match plasterwork mouldings.
The work to the building appeared to be authentic in another way too. During the Georgian period, there was a trend amongst wealthy merchants and landowners for commissioning architects to redesign the external elevations of older townhouses so that they appeared to have been built in line with the architectural fashions of the day. 
However, this being quite a costly enterprise, less visible elevations were usually left untouched. When walking around the building’s interior I came across one room where the windows did not appear to have been restored. When back outside on the pavement I noticed that this particular room was not visible from the street of any potential access point. Maybe this wasn’t intentional but I like to think it’s in keeping with the Georgian way of thinking!
Stay tuned to the blog to find out where else I’ll be visiting and to see if you can guess what this is all about…

Claire Weatherall, 
Project Archivist