Friday, 31 July 2015

A Very Big House in the Country

Imagine you are a Hull merchant living 200 years ago… George III ruled England and Hull was a booming trading port. With vision and a head for business you could make lots of money. But what to do with it all? Well you could use some of it to make a move to the countryside and improve your lifestyle…  

This month we dream big and design ourselves the best country houses the East Riding has ever seen! Prefer to move straight in? You could choose one of our regions finest examples and design yourself some interesting additions.

Don’t forget the best thing about being in the country…all the green space! Every country house needs beautiful landscaped gardens so make sure yours doesn’t go without.

Join us tomorrow as we take a tour around some of the biggest houses in East Yorkshire! We’ll be exploring the likes of Burton Agnes, Sledmere, Burton Constable and Sewerby. We’ll be recreating them in Lego, and designing and building our own dream country houses, landscaped gardens and garden buildings. We need greenhouses, clock towers, stables, coach houses and anything else your imagination can come up with.

If you are going to live in a grand house you need to look the part so we’ll also be designing ourselves 18th century costumes complete with accessories!

Don’t miss out on the fun. We’ll see you 9.30-12.30 as usual.
‘History Makers’ Team

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Winifred Holtby Event

Studio portrait taken for publicity purposes
(Ref L WH9 9.1-0302h)
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Winifred Holtby

Holtby, born in Rudston in 1898 was a pioneering feminist campaigner, journalist and novelist, best known as the author of South Riding. At her death, her archive was left to the people of Hull and is housed here at the History Centre. It is one of our most significant literary collections.

On Saturday 19 September 2015 an event to mark this anniversary Celebrating the Life of Winifred Holtby is taking place at the History Centre. It is being organised by Holtby scholar Gill Fildes and includes talks by a number of Holtby experts, including her most recent biographer Professor Marion Shaw. 

The day will conclude with a trip to Holtby’s birth and burial place, Rudston.

There are hopes to relaunch the Winifred Holtby Society at the event.

If you would like to book a place at this event, please download a registration form.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Blog the final – It’s a ‘Celebration of Architecture’ as the FJ archive is due to be launched!

Well after a year and a half of toiling away in the cataloguing room the FJ archive is finally listed, neatly packaged and ready to be used! Blood (paper cuts), sweat (broken air-con) and tears (when I first saw how much there was) were spent but I’ve come out alive and (almost) sane!

From the 11th August you will be able to search the catalogue online where you will also find a PDF version of the paper catalogue which is available for consultation here at the History Centre. Don’t forget to have a look at our source guide which will help you get to know the archive and how it is organised – it also gives you handy tips for finding related archives in our collections.

To celebrate this momentous occasion we have organised a number of events under the banner of the History Centre’s ‘Celebration of Architecture’. On the 1st August fun can be had at our ‘History Makers’ family event ‘A very big house in the country’. We will be learning about grand country houses and estates with the help of items from the archives. We will be recreating some of the region’s best examples using FJ’s drawings and lots of Lego!

For the adults amongst us, the big date for your diary is the 11th August. Events begin at 12.30 with a talk by noted local architectural historian David Neave who will be telling us about FJ’s life and work during his ‘Lunch Time Club’ talk

A representative from Francis Johnson & Partners will then say a few words to launch an architecture exhibition which will run from the 11th August to the 12th September. The exhibition has been jointly prepared by Hull History Centre and Humberside Society of Architects. It will feature highlights from the Francis Johnson & Partners, Architects collection, the best of Hull’s architecture as chosen by local architects, and a guide to undertaking buildings research at the History Centre.  

If you fancy getting to know the ‘Old Town’ better why not be guided through the architecture by FJ himself (sort of…)? You might remember that I was taking pictures and doing research for a walking trail earlier in the year. Well from the 11th August you can pick up a free trail leaflet from the History Centre Welcome Desk or download it as a PDF for free from our website.  

Hopefully there will be something to interest everyone so please do come along and take part – we would love to see you.

Claire Weatherall
Project Archivist

Monday, 27 July 2015

Press Start to Play: Archives and Videogames

Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2012 
Image licensed under CC by 2.0
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine a videogame exhibition?

My first thought was an interactive, arcade-type display such as at the National Videogame Arcade or the Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibition "The Art of Video Games" (right). 

What I had not considered was an exploration beyond the "game as artefact" viewpoint. This involves de-constructing the end product into a combination of design elements, from art to coding - and I was happy to discover it involved the use of archives!

With both my archives and gamer hat on, I ventured to the grand Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum for the “Videogames in the Museum” workshop (21st July). The aim of the workshop was to learn about the V&A's planning for an exhibition in 2017 where videogames will be portrayed as a significant medium in the history of design. 

Video Games in the Museum. Image by Author
During the workshop I was very fortunate to listen to curators from the V&A’s Design Architecture and Digital Department talk about the potential of archives, such as the work of the National Videogame Archive, for asking questions related to fan culture, authorship and players' experiences.
They claimed that it is not within the interests of most game designers and developers to archive their “ephemeral” design work and that there is an increasing need to begin recording material for preservation, curation and research. It was also suggested that archivists, curators and game developers should collaborate more to preserve these fragments of videogame history before they are lost, particularly with the ever-evolving challenges of hardware and software obsolescence.

The material that the V&A are interested in collecting for their exhibition include:
  • transcripts of communications (meetings, emails) 
  • model designs
  • audio
  • player experiences
  • marketing ephemera
  • coding
All these accompanying elements will serve an archival purpose beyond their 2017 exhibition, for example the V&A are also interested in collecting coding to assist with emulation research.

The Chinese Room Director and Composer, Jessica Curry,
talking about audio and storytelling. Image by Author.

Also presenting at the event were the award-winning game developers The Chinese Room whose games I have enjoyed playing in the past. It was interesting to hear direct from the developers themselves on the challenges of creating intangible and subjective experiences, such as nostalgia, within their upcoming game Everybody's Gone to the Rapture based in a Shropshire village from 1984.

From The Chinese Room’s presentation, the V&A curators then explored how such experiences and narratives could be presented in their exhibition- with the challenge in mind of exhibiting a playable 48 hour long game within the museum space! Their answer referred back to their interest in curating the development material of a game’s wider fan culture, such as reviews, art and videos, to emphasise cultural significance.

Overall, the key point I took away from “Videogames in the Museum” was the concept of the “total artwork”, or synthesis of art forms, with games being a combination of audio, visual and narrative design. If you remove one art form from the presentation of a game (such as not allowing an audience to hear the audio) it will disengage the player from the full experience. For an archivist, this means preserving each art form. All parts of the design layer should be documented and archived, alongside an effort to preserve the hardware (which is another large debate in itself!). 

All of the discussions were part of a larger project by the V&A where their exhibition is just the very beginning of a journey to build upon existing knowledge on how to archive and curate challenging design media. I will be looking forward to seeing how this exhibition develops!

Hannah Rice
Transforming Archives Trainee

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Apple Cake 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This month’s History Bakers recipe has been taken from ‘What’s Cooking in Cherry Burton’ which was published in 1977 to raise money for Cherry Burton village church. Residents of the village and surrounding area were invited to submit favourite recipes for inclusion. The last section of the book is entitled  ‘Guides competition recipes’ and there is a note to say that the local guide company made and sampled the recipes given.

I chose to make the apple cake recipe which was submitted by Madam Annie Delafoulhouse of Cherry Burton. It is an unusual recipe but easy to follow.  It did not specify what sort of flour but I decided on self raising flour which seemed to work quite well. I also replaced the vanilla powder with vanilla extract.  I used a Granny Smith apple and covered the cake with just one apple.  Next time I’ll try putting 2 in to see if it enhances the apple flavour!

The book is in the Local Studies Collection at L.641.5(62)C and can be accessed through the search room.  

Apple Cake 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

5 Tablespoons Flour
4 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Milk
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 Egg + Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2 large Apples

Cream Topping:
3oz Butter or Margarine
4oz Sugar
1 Egg
 Vanilla Powder

Mix together flour, sugar. baking powder and salt.  Then add milk, oil and 1 egg (use mixer). Pour mixture into greased  and lightly floured 8 inch cake tin then cover the top of the mixture with thin slices of apple and bake at reg 4 [gas mark 4 180 C] for 25 minutes.

Prepare the cream topping by melting the  butter or margarine, add sugar, egg and vanilla and pour the cream over the cake.  Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
It is very good and not too expensive and can be kept a few days.

Colleague's Comments:
Elspeth – I liked it, especially the moist apple topping. Would be nice with some fresh custard or pouring cream.
Verity – Lovely, light and sweet!
Laura – Delicious, lovely and moist. Yum!
Martin – Very moist and sweet.
Carol, Lovely, very moist and sweet.
Caoimhe – Very light and moist – delicate taste of apple.

Elaine Moll

Monday, 13 July 2015

What is a mikvah?

According to Jewish law every community, whatever its size, should have a mikvah. The existence of a mikvah is considered so important in Orthodox Judaism that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikvah before building a synagogue. In the Hebrew Bible, the word is employed in its broader sense but generally means a collection of water. 

Mikvah at the Pryme Street Synagogue (ref C DJC/2/4/11/4)
Several biblical regulations specify that full immersion in water is required to regain ritual purity after ritually impure incidents have occurred. The Trippett plunge bath was for the use of ladies only but mikvah’s are generally used:
  • by Jewish women to achieve ritual purity after menstruation or childbirth.
  • by Jewish men to achieve ritual purity.
  • as part of a traditional procedure for conversion to Judaism.
  • to immerse newly acquired utensils used in serving and eating food.
There are strict rules about the requirements of a mikvah and how it is filled. Come and find out more by looking in our collection of Jewish Archives at the History Centre (Ref C DJC)

Mikvah stonelaying at Pryme Street Synagogue (ref C DJC/2/4/11/4)
My story about this facet of Jewish culture ends with something about the mikvah that exists for members of the Jewish faith in Hull today. It is true that, working at the Hull History Centre, you really do learn something new every day. I had no idea that such a thing existed in our area. Completed in 2010 at a cost of over £60,000 a mikveh/mikvah was built adjacent to the north wall of the Pryme Street Synagogue. The cost was met mainly by members of the Jewish community and it continues to be used today. is a website where you can find mikvah’s throughout the world and learn more about how they are used and the regulations governing how they are filled. It lists 31 mikvah’s in England. Interestingly, when Hull was without a mikvah, members of Hull’s Jewish community would have had to travel to Leeds or Sheffield to use one.

I would like to thank Dr David Lewis for his painstaking research on the Hull’s Jewish Ritual Immersion Baths which can be found in our collection at C DJC/4/2/18.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Flying Fun at the History Centre

After such an eventful morning on the 4th July, we hope everyone enjoyed this month’s ‘History Makers’; ‘Flying high with Amy Johnson’; we certainly did! Being proud of our city’s history and people, we felt it was only right to celebrate one of the most influential female pilots of all time with everything from paper aeroplanes to Lego models.

The morning was filled with all manners of fun activities, one of the most popular being the paper aeroplane competition - many types of planes were created and thrown with all forms of creative designs. All credit to Josh for the winning plane, which itself nearly flew out the building; Amy Johnson herself would have been proud!

Another great part of the morning was the creative minds of all those making their own Lego models, with anything from planes to helicopters being designed. Without even needing instructions many children were able to create Lego masterpieces from the tops of their heads - a feat which impressed us all!

I particularly enjoyed the friendliness of all those involved, from children to staff, everyone was willing to help each other, and work together to make the event even more enjoyable. Also a huge thank you to all those involved with the event, and those who contributed.

The next History Makers event is on Saturday the 1st of August (9:30-12:30) ‘A very big house in the country’ in which we look forward to designing, planning and creating our very own dream houses out of Lego! We hope to see you there!

Eamonn West
History Centre Assistant (Work Experience)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Jewess’s bath on Trippett Street

Detail from 1853 OS map showing the Public Baths
During my research into Jewish culture I found out that, outside of London, Hull was the first Municipal Authority in England to construct a mikvah for the Jewish community. 

The Trippett baths, designed by David Thorp for Hull Corporation at a cost of £12,00 opened in April 1850 and included an excellent plunge bath, called the ‘Jewess’s bath, intended solely for the use of the ladies of the Hebrew nation.’ 

This plunge bath was situated on the first floor in the first class ladies section but unfortunately no plans exist to illustrate this. Trippett baths closed in 1903 and the building was destroyed during the Second World War.

View showing Trippett Baths (ref C DJC/4/1/20)
There is even earlier evidence of the existence of a mikvah in Hull. One may have existed as early as 1845 when a questionnaire was sent by the Chief Rabbi to all of the communities under his authority to ask if there was a bath in their locality. Hull replied ‘yes’ but unfortunately I am unable to corroborate this with any of our documents. In 1866 some baths opened in George Street, not far from the History Centre, and, from an unspecified date, the communal bath was situated there but these baths closed in 1918.

When Hull Corporation opened East Hull Baths in Oct 1898 it was not long before the Jewish community had a new mikvah. In 1919 Hull Corporation Baths Committee agreed to make alterations to meet the tenets of the Jewish faith. With financial contribution from the Jewish community, a pool that was once used by the nuns at a local nunnery was altered so that the water came directly from the mains rather than through a meter. This made it ritually fit and it remained so until the building was modernised in the 1980’s.

There is more information about Hull's baths and wash houses if you are interested, whilst our next blog will look at what a mikvah is, how they are used and some of the rituals that surround their use.