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Hidden treasures rediscovered in Knowsley’s archive

by Laura Johnston

The Archive Service has rediscovered some hidden treasures during its two week annual stock take of the borough’s collection in The Archive Resource for Knowsley (The ARK).

Hidden in the bottom of a box of documents about Halewood the team came across a well worn envelope containing some wonderful photographs of the town, including several of a men versus women football match.

 

Details on the back of one of the photos of the football match reveal it was a charity game – which no doubt explains the participants’ unusual choice of dress – played on Boxing Day. It tell us the name of the referee was Frank Baldwin but sadly it doesn’t include the year in which the match was played. If anyone reading this knows anything more about the game; maybe you recognise one of the players or went along to watch the match, please do get in touch with The ARK and tell us more about it!

In another envelope in the same box was a pile of typed bulletins. Closer inspection showed they were newsletters compiled by a Halewood Scout Master, J.G. Teare, sent out to former scouts and their relatives serving during the Second World War.

As the war continues and the bulletins become more popular and well-read, Mr. Teare gives greater space for extracts from letters sent by servicemen about their activities overseas. Many of these are very funny, with tales of unwittingly sharing a bed with giant cobras, encountering strange animals, insects and, written in capitals for comical emphasis, HUGE FROGS!

The map collection didn’t fail to impress either. A beautifully coloured map of the Prescot and Whiston area, from the Whiston Parish Council Collection, was rediscovered. This particular map, based on the 1892 Ordnance Survey map, is of interest as it not only shows the 1895 ward boundaries, but also the route taken by the Whiston drainage system, complementing the Wrennall Map Collection that is held in The ARK and which details drainage in Huyton from 1878.

The Whiston map is in good condition, but several of the more delicate Wrennall maps have been identified for conservation in order to preserve this unique record of Victorian urban development in the Huyton area.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Wellbeing and Customer Services, said:

“The archive collections are constantly developing, as more historic documents and photographs are added to the holdings. Taking stock is a vital part of the ongoing management and care of the collections.

“It allows us to ensure that the collections are complete and housed correctly, to check condition and identify items for conservation. This process helps preserve the integrity of the collections and ensure that all items can be retrieved efficiently when requested by researchers.

“Of course the two week closure also allows the team to delve deeply into collections which they might not otherwise get chance to explore and rediscover some of the borough’s hidden gems.”

The ARK

The ARK opened in the Kirkby Centre in March 2014, providing new accommodation for the borough’s archive collections in temperature and humidity controlled conditions. For the first time, collections could be housed in a secure store, fitted out to ARK’s specifications and meeting the national standards for archival storage.

Through the support provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the ARK project, the team engaged an accredited conservator to carry out an initial condition survey, highlighting pieces in the collections which required conservation and also showing areas where materials needed to be repackaged to ensure that they are safely stored. This work led to the team introducing an annual stock take to help maintain and manage the collections.

The collections are constantly developing, as more historic documents and photographs are added to the holdings. Why not take a fresh look at your own family and local history and visit us to explore the treasures held in The ARK?

You can visit the ARK at the Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby, L32 8XY.

For more information about the ARK or to find out about the services on offer, call 0151 443 4365 or email infoheritage@knowsley.gov.uk.

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