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According to the GRO indices, since 1837 there have been ten boys registered with the forenames, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Emma Jolly, in the article NAMING NAPOLEON: how exploring first names can give an insight into Victorian world history.

Emma Jolly writer, historian, genealogist
  1. Dangerous Characters In London’s Little Italy Fascists, Anti-Fascists, Suffragettes and Spies

    IMG_1683Last week I went to see the latest exhibition at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre in Holborn and was amazed to learn about a little-known tragedy of the Second World War. The exhibition, “Dangerous Characters in Little Italy” is curated by Alfio Bernabei. Among its exhibits is a section on the sinking of the Arandora Star on 2 July 1940. 805 souls were lost, of which 470 were Italian. It struck me that this is an event that we should commemorate in the way of the Lusitania or other wartime maritime losses. Astonishingly, the exhibition reveals that at the time the event was hidden and little attention was paid to it in the decades that followed.

    Built in 1927, the Arandora Star was originally a leisure cruiser belonging to the Blue Star Line. Recommissioned for war service in 1939, the ship served as a carrier for troops and civilian evacuees. In June 1940, she sailed from Liverpool, transport 734 Italians and 479 Germans who had been interned in Britain to Newfoundland in Canada. Also on board were 86 German prisoners of war and 174 officers and crew. Accompanying them were their guards: 200 Allied naval and military personnel. There was no supporting vessel, indicating that the ship was carrying civilians, and no Red Cross had been painted on the ship.

    Around 100 miles west of Bloody Foreland, Donegal, the Arandora Star was torpedoed by a German U-boat. As the internees clambered into lifeboats, some were shot by their guards to prevent them from escaping. A Canadian destroyer rushed to the scene, managing to rescue 868 lives. In all, 713 internees and 92 guards and crew lost their lives. They included the Captain, E. W. Moulton, 12 officers, 42 crew, 37 military guards, 470 Italians and 243 Germans.

    IMG_1682

    This incident and the silence that followed it, reflected the fear of Italian fascism in Britain during the war. “Dangerous Characters in Little Italy”, first exhibited by Centro Studi P. Calamandrei,Palazzo della Signoria, Jesi, Italy, highlights how fascism grew in Britain’s underground, and how many Italians sought to challenge it. The audio-visual display is based on Bernabei’s research about Italians in Clerkenwell and Soho in the period 1920-1940 and features the rise of Fascism and within the Italian community in London, as well as the activity of the Italian and non-Italian anti-Fascists to oppose it. The exhibition covers the period between the rise of Fascism in Italy in the early 1920s and Italy’s declaration of war on the side of Nazi Germany.

    “Dangerous Characters in Little Italy: Fascists, Anti-Fascists, Suffragettes
    and Spies” is a free exhibition at Camden Local Studies and Archive Centre, 32-38 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8PA and runs until Friday 3rd July 2015 (Opening Hours: Mon 10-6 Tues 10-6 Thurs 10-7 Fri 10-5 Alternate Saturdays 11-5).

  2. My Great Great Grandfather and the Great Confectionery Swindle of 1911

    Criminal ancestors may have been a source of shame to our families in the past, but for today’s family historians their antics have created many useful and well-archived documents. Court records and newspaper crime reports are particularly rich seams of material for researchers. Searching online, I was delighted to discover my great great grandfather’s appearance in an Old Bailey court proceeding from 1911.

    Thankfully, my ancestor Henry Joseph Barnes (known to his family as “Nen”) wasn’t in the dock. Instead, he had a small part in the misappropriation of a large collection of sweets by 37 year old clerk, John Stone. At the time, Nen was working as a carman for Thomas Handyside Ltd of Holloway Road, manufacturing confectioners.

    From the census, taken two months before this trial took place, I know that in 1911 Nen was living in Boleyn Road, Islington and that his sister lived just north of there in Allen Road, Stoke Newington, where some of the following events took place.

    Old Bailey Proceedings, 27th June 1911. Reference Number: t19110627-43 The full account can be found online at the website, “Proceedings of the Old Bailey: London’s Central Criminal Court 1674-1913”

    STONE, John (37, clerk) , obtaining by false pretences from Thomas Andrews two hundredweight in weight of mixed caramels and other articles, the goods of Nathan Baras Walters, from William Mason, a quantity of confectionery, the goods of Simon Flatto, and from Henry Joseph Barnes five hundredweight in weight of confectionery, the goods of Thomas Handyside Limited, in each case with intent to defraud: attempting to obtain by false pretences from Frederick Charles Wimble a quantity of chocolate, the goods of F. L. Cailler; from Walter George Scott a quantity of chocolate, the goods of Jean Bear, and from Frederick Nettleton one ton of cocoa shell powder, the goods of Frederick Nettleton and others; (forging and uttering and publishing as true a certain writing purporting to be a business reference from Jacob Mehlburg, with intent to defraud).

    Mr. Walter Frampton and Mr. Roome prosecuted; Mr. E. H. Coumbe defended.

    Mr. Coumbe objected to the indictment as charging a number of separate misdemeanours followed by two counts charging forgery and uttering; the prosecution should be put to election as to which count they go upon.

    Judge Rentoul said that he had some doubt as to including the last two counts; evidence of similar acts of obtaining by false pretences could always be given even where not a part of the indictment; the first eight counts were unobjectionable.

    The last two counts were struck out.

    FREDERICK CHARLES WIMBLE , assistant manager to F. L. Cailler, 4, Upper Thames Street. On March 6, 1911, I received letter (produced) from “J. Stone, tobacconist and confectioner, 69, Allen Road, Stoke Newington”: “Dear Sir,—I have for some time dealt with Nestlé and Co.,” ordering a quantity of sweets and giving reference to Bond and Co., 110, Matthias Road, and Bloom Stores, Brick Lane. I wrote the letter (produced) of March 11, stating that on receipt of cheque the goods would be forwarded. On March 13 prisoner telephoned, saying that he was surprised at receiving a pro forma invoice, and asking if the references were satisfactory. I told him the references were satisfactory, but they were not in our trade, and as it was his first transaction we should prefer to have a cheque. He replied: “There is no difficulty about that. I will send you a cheque, but I must have the goods on Wednesday morning without fail.” That was on Monday at 11 a.m. After 4 p.m. I received letter (produced), post-marked “2.15 p.m.,” containing cheque for £10 1s. 6d. The following morning I had the cheque specially presented; it came back dishonoured. I wrote expressing surprise and stating that on receipt of the cash the goods would be forwarded. I heard nothing further from the prisoner.

    Cross-examined. My firm is a member of the Confectioners’ Alliance, whose solicitors appeared at the police-court. We did not prosecute, but I appeared as a witness.

    WALTER GEORGE SCOTT , chief clerk, chocolate department, Nestlé’s Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, owned by Jean Bear. On March 6, 1911, I received letter produced from prisoner ordering goods and referring to Bond and Co. and the Bloom Stores; I forwarded pro forma invoices of £7 1s. 9d.; prisoner sent cheque, which was returned marked “R/D.” I wrote expressing surprise and heard nothing further. I did not part with the goods.

    NATHAN BARAS WALTERS , 122, High Street, Poplar, manufacturing confectioner. On March 15 I received letter produced from prisoner ordering sweets to the value of £5 11s., which I sent with invoice, when the carman brought me cheque produced, which has been returned marked “R/D.” I informed prisoner, who wrote that it was owing to a cheque of £8 9s. 10d. paid into his account being dishonoured and stating he would write when we could present it again. I have not been paid.

    THOMAS ANDREWS , carman to N. B. Walters and Co. corroborated.

    HENRY HANDYSIDE , managing director of Thomas Handyside, Limited, 166 and 167, Holloway Road, manufacturing confectioners. On April 3 I received letter produced from prisoner ordering goods. I wrote with invoice stating the goods would be delivered for cash, on April 6 sent them by my carman and received cheque for £4 14s. 6d. produced, which has been returned marked “R/D.” I informed prisoner, applying for the money and received no answer.

    HENRY JOSH. BARNES , carman to Handyside, corroborated.

    SIMON FLATTO , trading as the Anglo-Russian Confectionery Company, received similar order, sent goods and received cheque for £5 2s. 4d., which was returned marked “R/D.”

    WILLIAM MASON , carman, corroborated.

    FREDERICK NETTLETON , of Nettleton and Morris, 8, Colonial Avenue, E.C., confectionery merchant. On April 19 my firm issued a circular recommending cocoa shell powder to confectionery manufacturers; it is an article only of use to manufacturers. On April 24 I received letter from prisoner asking for quotation, which we sent, and on May 2 received letter produced ordering one ton and giving references to Bond and Co. and to J. Mehlburg, of 193, Whitechapel Road (to whom we had sent a circular). I wrote to both references and received letter produced purporting to come from J. Mehlburg stating that prisoner was good for £20 credit.

    Mr. Coumbe objected to the evidence as embarrassing to the prisoner and as tending to bring in the charge of forgery.

    Judge Rentoul held that this evidence was admissible as evidence of false pretences.

    (Examination continued.) I believe the letter from Mehlburg to be genuine, but after making other inquiries wrote prisoner offering to send the goods on receipt of cash. On March 17 I received letter with cheque for £10 (produced), which was paid into my bank and returned marked “R/D.” I paid the cheque in again with the same result. I wrote prisoner asking for an explanation, but received no reply.

    Cross-examined. I do not know J. Mehlburg and have had no dealings with him; my circular was sent to him as his name appeared in a list of confectioners.

    JACOB MEHLBURG , 193, Whitechapel Road, confectioner. I have known prisoner seven or eight years; he was a clerk to a solicitor and used to collect money and write letters for me. About seven or eight months ago he opened at Allen Road and had £3 worth of goods from me for which he paid. On Saturday, March 11, he asked me to change a cheque for £10 for him. I said if he would call on Monday morning if I had the change I would do so. On the Monday he called, but I had not the money. He said could I get the bank to change it. I said no, he had better open a small banking account. I then introduced prisoner to the London Provincial Bank, Whitechapel Road, where he opened an account and received a cheque book. Prisoner used to call on me once or twice a fortnight. I do not know Nettleton and Morris, have never written to them or authorised anyone to do so. I did not write letter produced or ask anyone to write it for me. It is written on my notepaper.

    Cross-examined. I have been 11 months at 193, Whitechapel Road, and formerly carried on a confectioner’s business at 14, Vallance Road. My wife and family assist in the business when I am out. I am an Austrian and have been 12 years in England. I occasionally deal in job lines in confectionery; I have bought three lots from prisoner for which I produce receipts: April 8, £9; March 31, £6 12s.; March 21, £8 0s. 3d. I did not buy goods to value of £4 9s. 8d. from prisoner in May. I have had no dispute with the Confectioners’ Alliance. I had no occasion to buy through the prisoner from Nestlé or Cailler—I have bought direct from those firms. Cocoa shell powder is of no use to me, as I do not manufacture. I do not know what it is good for. I never told prisoner I would buy some from him. I take about £140 a week in my business. I deal wholesale, buying from manufacturers and supplying small shops. I do not owe prisoner any money for goods supplied. I do not know who wrote the letter to Nettleton produced. Prisoner may have written letters for me years ago. I always sign my letters myself.

    Re-examined. Prisoner has visited me at Vallance Road. Letter produced is written on Vallance Road notepaper and is signed, “J.

    Mehlburg.” I always sign “Jacob Mehlburg.” It is not my brother’s or my traveller’s writing.

    DAVID WETTMAN , Wettman and Co., 19, Osborn Street, E., wholesale confectioners. In May last I received an order from a Mr. J. Stone for 4 cwt. of sweets, coming to £4 19s. 6d. I have mislaid the order. They were to be delivered to his place, Allen Road, Stoke Newington. My carman took them and brought back a cheque for the amount of the bill. This is it, signed J. Stone, and dated May 12. I paid it into my account, and it was returned. I went to see the prisoner, and his wife told me to pay the cheque in again, the money was there. I paid it in again, and it was returned. Prisoner kept a little shop; I did not see any of my stock there. I have received nothing for the goods. Mr. Coumbe said he did not challenge any of the deliveries.

    JULIUS EARET , J. Karet and Co., 38, Bridge Street, Mile End, wholesale confectioners and manufacturers. We received this latter, dated March 21, from J. Stone, Allen Road, Stoke Newington: “I have been dealing with the British Confectionery Company, and on recommendation wish to give you a trial. Please forward 2 cwt. of French nougat, 1 cwt. of chocolate nougat, 1 cwt. of nougat cubes, 1 cwt. of Jap desserts. Please advise when you are delivering.” I told my clerk to book the order, and mark it “C.O.D.” I delivered the goods on March 23. They came to £4 6s. The carman brought the goods back as there was no cash to meet them. On March 24 I received this letter from Stone: “Dear Sirs,—I regret I was not in when goods arrived. Kindly deliver to-morrow, Saturday, and oblige.” I sent them, and the carman brought back a cheque on the London and Provincial Bank, Whitechapel, for £4 6s., signed “J. Stone.” I paid it into my account, and it was dishonoured. I went to the prisoner’s place and saw a woman I believe to be Mrs. Stone; she insulted me. I have never had my money nor the goods back. It was a very little shop there.

    RICHARD WILLIAM HUMPHREY , clerk to London and Provincial Bank, Whitechapel Road. We have a customer named Jacob Mehlberg. On March 13 last he brought Stone to the bank. Prisoner opened an account with a cheque for £10 13s. 9d., and signed the signature book. These cheques (Exhibits 1, 5 to 13) are all signed by Stone. The cheque prisoner opened the account with was returned dishonoured; it has not been paid. The cheque was never paid in again. Our cheque-book was not returned; we applied for it.

    WALTER FREDERICK SISMAN , clerk to London and Provincial Bank, Limited, 167, Whitechapel Road. I produce a certificated copy of the account of J. Stone, Allen Road, Stoke Newington. It was opened on March 13 by a payment in of a cheque for £10 13s. 9d., and a cheque-book containing 24 cheques was handed out on that day to Stone. The account is debited with 2s. for it. The cheque for £10 13s. 9d. was returned dishonoured on March 17. On that date a cash payment was made of £2. A cheque was drawn against that on the 20th for £1 10s. The next payment into that account was on March 20 by a cheque for £8 19s. 10d. It was returned dishonoured on the 24th. It was paid in again on the 24th, and returned again dishonoured on the 28th. That was the last payment in. The only effective payment in was £2. At the last there was 6d. to the credit. On March 14 there was a cheque in favour of Cailler’s British Agency, resented for payment for £16 1s. 8d., which was dishonoured. On the 15th one in favour of Nestlé’s for £7 1s. 9d. There were sixteen other cheques presented for payment in favour of different people, all of which were dishonoured because of no funds to meet them. There was an effective payment into the bank to the credit of the account of £2, against “which cheques for £96 13s. 7d. were drawn. On April 3 a letter was written to Stone, asking him to close his account and return the unused cheques. They were not returned, so far as I know. The cheque-book contained 24 cheques; 19 were drawn.

    Cross-examined. We should not hear whether any of these cheques had been taken up by him.

    Detective-sergeant ERNEST BROCK , M Division. I arrested prisoner on a warrant at 69, Allen Road, Stoke Newington, on May 23. I read it to him. He made no reply. He was charged and made no reply. I searched the premises. There was no telephone there. The telephone number on the billheads, “1212 Dalston,” is at a public-house next door.

    (Defence.)

    JOHN STONE (prisoner, on oath). I am 37 years old, and have been a solicitor’s clerk practically all my life. Of late I have been managing clerk to Mr. G. Edgar Mew, practising in the East End. I first went to him in 1907, and left in September, 1910; his practice was not particularly successful, and he gave up. I then went to Mr. Richards, 1, Great James Street, Bedford Row, and was there for about six months. While with Mr. Mew I became acquainted with a Mr. Winfield. He wanted to sell a shop, and I bought it for £10. My wife looked after it. I was occupied in legal business right up to the time of my arrest. The confectionery business took from £7 to £10 a week gross at first, and then it fell off to about 30s. a week. At first I always paid spot cash for goods supplied for the business up to March this year. About the beginning of last March I was not in regular employment. I had known Mehlberg for years through doing legal business for him. He knew I had taken this shop. I told him I wanted to get further stock cheap, as the takings had gone down, and he said he could give me the names and addresses of firms where I could get cheap goods and credit, and give his name as a reference. I went with him to the bank and opened an account. Early in March I had a good deal of money owing to me from Mr. Nunn and Wilson’s Electric Empires, Limited. Mr. Nunn is managing director of Wilson’s Electric Empires. I have done a lot of work for him and for the company as secretary and confidential clerk. My belief in March was that I was going to be paid, and I should then have money. Cailler’s and Nestlé’s names were given to me by Mehlberg. He said to me, “If you pay cash terms you get a good percentage, 10 or 12 1/2 per cent., and I can afford to give you a very small profit, and then can resell again and get my profit over you. If you give these first orders you can get a month’s credit, and then you will get a certain amount of discount.” This was in the middle of March. In consequence I wrote the letters to Cailler’s and Nestlé’s. The cheques to them were sent on the day I opened the account. I fully anticipated the cheque for £10 13s. 9d. being met. As to the £23, if I had received these goods I would then have arranged with Mehlberg to buy them at a profit, and I should have immediately paid that money into the bank. Even if my cheques had gone back I could have gone to the payees’ banks on the following morning and have picked them up. I say that Mehlberg’s denial of any such contract is a deliberate untruth. What I wrote to Cailler’s is perfectly true, that I had for some time dealt with Nestlé’s. I had not dealt direct with the firm, but with their goods. As regards Walters, Handysides and Flatto, when I knew the £10 13s. 9d. cheque had been dishonoured I saw Mr. Nunn, and he said, “You must hold that cheque over.” I fully believed the cheque for £8 19s. 10d. would have been met. At that time I was expecting daily to receive £45, and acting on that belief I ordered these goods. As regards the other goods during March and April, Mehlberg had arranged to pay me, bat he did not do so promptly. I received some money from him, and paid current accounts. The cheques drawn to the Stoke Newington Borough Council and Metropolitan Water Board I tore up and paid cash instead, out of the moneys I received. If I had received sufficient cash from my debtors I should have picked up all these cheques and should have had a balance in hand as well. That was absolutely my intention from the beginning. The three firms dealt with in May were all well known to Mehlberg. He said to me, “You will get the goods from those people, I will buy them from you and you can pay them in to meet your cheques,” which I was going to do. I let him have the goods I received from the Maple Confectionery Company. He owes me the money for them to this day.

    (Saturday, July 1.)

    JOHN STONE (prisoner) recalled. On May 15 by a friendly arrangement a receiver on behalf of a debenture holder was appointed of Wilson Electric Empires, Limited. My claim was sent in then for £47 19s. 10d., of which £38 was a preferential claim for arrears of salary and admitted. Mr. Wilson is at Bath at present. The reference sent to Messrs. Nettleton and Morris came from Mr. Mehlberg. He requested me to write to them and order a ton of cocoa shell at the price quoted in a circular he gave me and he would give me a sovereign profit, the arrangement being that if I got that they would then give me credit and I could get five tons and he would be able to sell it. The letter from Mehlberg’s looks like his brother’s writing. I do not think he can write Englsh. I have written many letters for him and signed his name to them. Other people have done so as well. I wish to make an offer to assign to a trustee, on behalf of the prosecutors’ debts owing to me amounting roughly to about £72. I say the total of the goods I have had delivered to me is about £33 or £34. The thought never entered my mind of defrauding any one of these persons of their goods or their money.

    Cross-examined. I have been a solicitor’s clerk for 23 years and according to my circular the proprietor of a legal agency, but there was very little in it. I know from my legal experience that Criminal Courts will not listen to such a suggestion as I made as to paying these people, but it was a suggestion of mine. The evidence they have given (excepting Mehlberg) I agree is true as to my ordering the goods, but I do not say it is true they wanted cash for them. I left my cheque book at home signed, and if they asked for payment when delivering the goods they were to be asked if they would accept a cheque. I anticipated the delivery of the goods on the usual terms, one month. I say I had a perfect right to draw on the bank. Whether I had or not, unless there was money there to meet the cheques, is a matter of opinion. Many people draw cheques in anticipation of getting money in time to meet them: that is finance. This is a question of finance: I anticipated money. I did not wish the people to believe that money was at the bank at the time nor that I did not have a farthing there; I always had something. I never had more than £2 in the account. With the exception of that £2, against which 30s. was drawn a few days afterwards, and 2s. charged for a cheque book and two dishonoured cheques I received from Wilson and Nunn, I have unfortunately not paid a farthing into my account. When you asked whether when I applied to Messrs. Cailler and Nestlé for goods I mentioned that I was dealing with a rival house you are putting it very broadly. I said to Cailler’s that I was dealing with Nestlé’s and to Nestlés that I was dealing with Cailler’s. Mr. Nunn used to call himself Wilson. I have known him for seven or eight years. He is an undischarged bankrupt. He obtained credit far over £20 without disclosing the fact, was prosecuted and acquitted. He brought an action for malicious prosecution, which he lost. He has not paid any of the costs. I was a witness and managing clerk to his solicitor. I knew his position early this year. I acted for him in a matter of rates. That is the gentleman whose cheque I was accepting to open an account at my bank on March 17. I certainly thought it was going to be met. It was not a shock to me when I found it dishonoured; I have had a good many dishonoured. Although it was that day I drew cheques for £16 to Cailler’s and £7 to Nestlé’s I had every wish to meet them.

    Re-examined. Mr. Nunn has an action against the Bioscope Company still proceeding for breaches of agreement in which he claims £1,200. I know they made him an offer of £100 and costs, which he refused and then he brought the action for malicious prosecution.

    Mr. Frampton. That action has been discontinued.

    Mr. Coumbe. We do not know that. (Evidence continued.) Wilson has paid hundreds of pounds to big firms in the picture business, but his expenses were very heavy.

    Verdict, Guilty.

    Sentence, 12 months’ hard labour.

    BEFORE MR. JUSTICE DARLING.

    (Saturday, July 1.)

  3. Thames Discovery Programme: The Man who saved London from Drowning

    Thanks to the Thames Discovery Programme, the community archaeology project run by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), for sending news of an interesting new plaque in Victoria Tower Gardens.

    S Copyright Institution of Civil Engineers

    On 29 October 2014, Sir Thomas Peirson Frank (1881-1951), an engineer who saved London from drowning no fewer than 121 times, was commemorated in a ceremony held at Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament, along the riverwall. The plaque is supported by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Audrey Lewis.

    The location is significant as on the other side of the wall are the scars of the Blitz and evidence of the laudable efforts of Peirson Frank’s team during the Second World War.

    Sir (Thomas) Peirson Frank, co-ordinated repairs to roads and public services for London County Council between 1939 and 1945. He established a secret rapid-response unit to deal with the destruction of London’s flood defences from the Luftwaffe’s intensive bombing raids. Recent fieldwork and research of unpublished reports, by archaeologists from the Thames Discovery Programme (TDP), have revealed the extent of the unit’s heroic efforts.

    unnamedPeirson Frank, a respected civil engineer who later became President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), knew well the catastrophic consequences that a flood defence breach could have, potentially submerging low-lying areas of the capital, including the London Underground, where so many Londoners sought refuge during the Blitz.

    ICE President Geoff French said: “While historic engineering greats like Brunel are frequently revered and well established in the engineering ‘hall of fame’, others like Sir Thomas Peirson Frank have remained unsung heroes. It was down to the ingenuity of this engineer that parts of our capital, including the main infrastructure network that supported it, survived the Blitz without being submerged. Needless to say the consequences could have been devastating. It is a truly fascinating story, and I am delighted that Sir Thomas’ feat has finally been discovered and acknowledged.”

    As the prospect of war loomed, Peirson Frank set about making preparations: identifying the most vulnerable sites, introducing secondary flood defences, and setting up depots staffed by rapid-response teams, called the Thames Flood Prevention Emergency Repairs unit. Their endeavours were conducted in secret, so as not to alarm the public or alert the Luftwaffe to this soft target.

    Research, supported by University College London, has explored unpublished records in the London Metropolitan Archives and revealed Peirson Frank’s detailed plans. Recent TDP fieldwork, to record the Thames riverwall, has exposed the devastation and extensive repair work covertly undertaken to protect the capital.

    Gustav Milne, Thames Discovery Programme Director, said: “Last winter illustrated the danger posed by floods. It emphasises the Herculean efforts of Sir Thomas Peirson Frank’s highly successful rapid-response team, at the height of the bombing. It’s a real credit to the Thames Discovery Programme’s community team that they were able to unravel this forgotten story, since all news of their efforts was deliberately supressed at the time.”

    Martin Frank, Grandson of Sir Thomas Peirson Frank, said: “The demands at the time for secrecy meant that this work was never widely recognised and so it is fitting, even after all these years, that we will have this plaque to remind future generations how close we came to catastrophe and how much we owe to Sir Peirson and his team.”

    You can find out more about the Thames Discovery Programme on the website www.thamesdiscovery.org, on Twitter @ThamesDiscovery, on Facebook Thames Discovery Programme.

    Image © by kind permission of London Metropolitan Archives, London

     

  4. Lessons in Nursing Care from the Early Years of the NHS

    The first series of Call The Midwife ended last night on BBC 1. The show was a huge ratings success, with its final episode being watched by 9 million viewers. Much of its appeal lies in the fairly accurate recreation of 1950s Poplar and of its realistic scenes of childbirth.

    Today, with UK healthcare under threat from the NHS bill, this portrayal of the Service’s successful early years may hold some clues as to how it could more simply be reformed. There have already been calls for the NHS to go ‘back to basics’, with the return of matrons and a focus on patients’ essential needs. Could a return to 1950s methods of nursing care, whilst retaining 21st century scientific and technological advancements, be the answer?

    Decades before the NHS was created the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, regarded open windows as the hallmark of a healthy hospital ward. Open windows were much in evidence on Call The Midwife, both in the hospital wards and in houses of the East End.

    This basic policy is supported by an article in today’s Independent, which reports on a microbiologist who believes air conditioning and an ultra-sterile environment are harming patients by contributing to infections. Jack Gilbert of Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago and head of the Earth Microbiome Project, explained the science behind his theory:

    Open windows let bacteria in from outside and you will either dilute out the pathogens, or you are not allowing the pathogens to establish themselves because there is too much competition for the nutrients and energy that the bacteria need to survive. . . There’s a good bacterial community living in hospitals and if you try to wipe out that good bacterial community with sterilisation agents and excessive antibiotic use, you actually lay waste to this green field of protective layer and these bad bacteria can just jump in and start causing hospital-borne infections.”

    Contemporary scientists are not alone in their praise of basic practice, as seen on Call The Midwife. My godmother, a retired chief midwife, was impressed by the authenticity of the breech birth scene in episode two. Mothers on the babycentre.co.uk webchat, agree. They believe that the 1950s method of covering the baby’s head with a towel, in order to keep it warm and prevent it taking a breath in the birth canal, was preferable to their experiences, which had resulted in lung pumps and incubators.

    Having been through childbirth twice, I agree that the birth scenes in this programme are the most realistic I’ve seen on any television drama. Happily, like mine, most of the births shown in the series ended successfully. However, one of the most tragic scenes was that in episode 4 where middle-aged headmaster David loses his beloved wife Margaret after she suffers eclampsia. Eclampsia and pre-eclampsia remain dangerous conditions. As now, good ante-natal care is key to identifying present and prospective complications. Sadly, Margaret was shown to have left her ante-natal appointment before being seen by the midwives.

    In the early 1970s, my mother saved the life of a farmer’s wife from a remote area who was admitted with pre-eclampsia:

    “We had to take her into a single room with the blinds down and keep her sedated. Suddenly she began fitting and her heart stopped. With no second to spare, I had to give heart massage until we felt a pulse. After this, she was given an emergency caesarean section, and both she and her premature baby survived.”

    mumnurse

    My mother, who began her training in 1963, warmly remembers the camaraderie of the early years:

    “There was much more of a family feel than there is in today’s nursing. There were many people aged 18, mostly young women, with very very few men in general nursing. We were all enthusiastic, really loved the patients and all the young ones felt we were in it together.”

    Like the midwives who lived together at Nonnatus House, my mother and her colleagues lived in a nurses’ home where hierarchy was much in evidence:

    “We were awe of the sisters, and the matron could sometimes be quite terrifying! We were issued with so many dresses, so many hats and so many aprons. There were the hospital laundries which did all the laundry and starched your hats. This helped keep infections down. The matron and sisters were very strict about hair being kept back, and absolutely no wearing of jewellery.”

    Community and personal relationships are seen as central to nursing care in the television series, and were very much key values for nurses of my mother’s generation:

    Everything was about caring for people, the care of the person. Especially as young nurses, we got to know the patients and their families. Great emphasis was put on nutrition – also the going out. The fluids in and the fluids out, as it were. Anyone who wasn’t up and about, we had their charts and went around making egg and milk drinks, making sure they were all well-nourished.

    I trained in a big hospital where we rarely saw the matron, but the assistant matrons did daily rounds. We had to make sure that we knew everything about our patients. The senior staff would walk round and ask any question at all. We had to be particularly alert with one, who asked the blood results of each patient, which we had to know without looking. Also, we looked after the whole ward so we knew every patient there.”

    This later changed, with nurses only being assigned a small number of patients on each ward.

    Some viewers have expressed relief that they do not have to give birth, drug-free, in a bug-infested slum in the bomb-shattered East End of post-war London. But many more are attracted to the positive experiences shown on Call The Midwife: the strong community, inexhaustible humour, and, above all, the patient-centred nursing care. On a day when so many are criticizing and heckling the Prime Minister and the Health Minister for their planned reforms, it seems appropriate to remember the value of high quality nursing in those early years of our National Health Service.

    The Guardian’s obituary of Jennifer Worth (Jenny Lee), who died shortly before the series was filmed, can be read at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/06/jennifer-worth-obituary

    For more on the local history aspect of Call The Midwife, see the The Sugar Girls’ blog: http://www.thesugargirls.com/call-the-midwife/ 

  5. Dickens and London

    … the great heart of London throbs in its Giant breast. Wealth and beggary,

     

    vice and virtue, guilt and innocence, repletion and the direst hunger, all treading

     

    on each other and crowding together, are gathered round it. Draw but a little

     

    circle above the clustering house-tops, and you shall have within its space,

    everything with its opposite extreme and contradiction, close beside.

    Master Humphrey’s Clock, 1841

    Portrait of Charles Dickens 19th century © Museum of London

    Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, but lived much of his life in London. Although he died in Kent, his remains lie in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey where he was buried on 14 June 1870. The city fed his imagination and Dickens spent decades reproducing London’s streets, sights, smells, sounds and people in his many written works.

    As part of the 2012 bicentennial celebrations mentioned in the previous blog, the Museum of London has created a stunning exhibition celebrating Dickens’ links with the capital. Exhibits are drawn not just from the Museum’s own extensive collections, but from museums and archives across Britain. There are also particularly notable items, such as Dickens’ writing desk, from private collections.

                  Copyright Museum of London

    From 1822, when the Dickens family settled in Camden, to 1860 when the author took permanent residence at his Kent home of Gad’s Hill Place, London was his home. He explored it by day and, often, by night. As he walked mile after mile he planned stories in his head. Visitors to the Museum can hear a reading of Night Works, Dickens’ description of London after dark, whilst watching William Raban’s 19 minute specially-commissioned film, The Houseless Shadow, made in October 2011.

    Throughout those four decades, Dickens’ life changed dramatically. He went from schoolboy and then impoverished son of a prison inmate to the greatest celebrity of his time. His peers changed from workhouse orphans working alongside him at the blacking factory by Hungerford Stairs to famous authors, millionaires and aristocrats from across Europe and the United States.

    Hungerford Stairs 1830 by John Harley. Copyright Museum of London

    Hungerford Market, 1830 by John Thomas Smith © Museum of London

    It is thus remarkable that the Dickens and London exhibition captures so much of his own varied life along with the lives of his characters. We see blacking pots, for example, like those Dickens’ worked with in his childhood employment, sitting not far from the author’s bank ledger – a reminder of his later riches. There are displays on the theatre, which Dickens adored, including a footlight from Wilton’s Music Hall. Also featured are themes of childhood, death, transport, wealth and poverty.

    Dickens London Map © Museum of London

    Copyright Museum of London

    The full geographical area of the capital is covered: there is ‘A copy of Verses from the Year 1835, humbly presented to all the worthy inhabitants of the Parish of St Pancras’ in the north to household items excavated in 1996 from Jacob’s Island in Rotherhithe in the south east. St Pancras parish included Camden where Dickens lived and which inspired scenes from David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities. Jacob’s Island is probably most associated with scenes from Oliver Twist, particularly that of the dramatic death of villainous Bill Sykes.

    Unlike in the British Library exhibition, the displays here are concerned with Dickens’ world – what many refer to as ‘Dickensian London’ – rather than a detailed focus on what he wrote. However, this does not detract from its success. And those who are interested in how Dickens wrote will delight in the presence of three original manuscripts: Dombey & Son (1847) and Bleak House (Nov 1851) from the Victoria & Albert Museum,

    Dickens's Manuscript for Bleak House © V&A images/Victroia and A

    Bleak House manuscript. Copyright V&A Images

    and Great Expectations (1861) lent by the Wisbech and Fenland Museum. Visitors can also experience Dickens’ work like its first readers by flicking through a replica copy of an instalment of Little Dorrit (Copyright V&A Images).

    Little Dorrit partwork © Museum of London

    I once researched a family who lived around the corner from Charles Dickens in Holborn. One of my first thoughts was did he ever know them or see them? Did they inspire any of the characters in his novels or short stories? Although it is almost impossible to find out, this reminded me that many of those who inspired Dickens are the ancestors of people living today. That specific family would have recognized a watchman’s box in the centre of the exhibition, that stood outside Dickens’ old home at Furnival’s Inn – the home that neighboured theirs.

    For family historians who have at least one ancestor who lived in London between 1820 and 1870, therefore, Dickens’ writing is a unparalleled source of relevant social and domestic detail. This exhibition provides an extension of that. The exhibits bring Dickensian London alive.

    Overall, for anyone with even a passing interest in either Dickens or the social history of Victorian London, this exhibition is not to be missed.

    Useful Links 

    www.Dickens2012.org

    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/dickens

    http://www.dickensmuseum.com/

    http://charlesdickenspage.com/dickens_london.html

    http://charlesdickenspage.com/ruth_richardson-cleveland_street_workhouse.html

    http://www.bfi.org.uk/whatson/bfi_southbank/film_programme/january_seasons/dickens_on_screen

    http://twitter.com/Dickensbookclub

    Dickens and London tickets

    Adult £8 (£7 advance booking);Child/concession £6 (£5 advance booking);Under 5s FREE; Friends of the Museum FREE; Flexible family tickets are also available

  6. A Hankering After Ghosts: Charles Dickens and the Supernatural

    I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book,

    to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my 

    readers out of humour with themselves, with each other,

    with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses

    pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

    Preface to A Christmas Carol (December 1843)

    Dex.316

    If, like me, you are a fan of Charles Dickens, you have much to look forward to over the next year. In the run up to 7 February 2012, the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth, galleries all over the world are dusting off letters, books, and illustrations of the great author and his many works.

    To start us off in London, the British Library have a smallish exhibition in its Folio Society Gallery – the perfect size for a lunch break visit. The rich Christmassy feel also provides welcome escape from currently chilly London streets.

    Christmas permeates the display. There are several editions of A Christmas Carol, a theatre poster for an early performance, an oral recording by Ralph Richardson and Paul Scofield, plus a copy of the semi-autobiographical short story ‘A Christmas Tree’ (1850). Indeed, we learn that it was the ghost stories told around the fire in his childhood Christmases that first inspired Dickens’ imagination to ‘hanker’ after the supernatural.

    Childhood influences are highlighted throughout: from the supernatural imagery of The Arabian Nights to the ‘fiendish enjoyment’ of young Charles’ nurse in relaying ghostly tales. But later, more tragic events were also to inspire his writing. The deaths of loved ones, like Mary Hogarth, were said to have ‘haunted his dreams’. Similarly, Ebenezer Scrooge was to be haunted at night by the ‘ghosts’ of those he had once cherished.

    The Victorian obsession with the supernatural is highlighted through examples of spirit (or psychic) photographs and a display on spiritualism. Dickens satirized the spiritualists but was fascinated with the macabre. A close friendship with one of the finest exponents of the ghost story, Wilkie Collins, only served to further his interest. Although he sought to rationalise supernatural phenomena such as mesmerism, Dickens was not above sensationalizing them to terrify his readers. An original copy of Bleak House, for example, lies open on an illustration showing the spontaneous combustion of the alcoholic Krook.

    Amongst featured items in the exhibition are illustrations, theatre posters and a letter written by the author to his wife, Catherine. One of my favourite items was a copy of The Terrific Register – a penny weekly magazine whose tales of horror haunted Dickens throughout his life. He later remembered ‘there was an illustration to every number in which there was always a pool of blood, and at least one body . . .’

    The exhibition is free and runs from 29 November 2011 – 4 March 2012: Monday, Wednesday-Friday 9.30 – 18.00, Tuesday 9.30 – 20.00, Saturday 9.30 – 17.00, Sunday and Bank Holidays 11.00 – 17.00.

    For more on Dickens, see my article ‘Charles Dickens in Camden’ at the London Historians website http://www.londonhistorians.org/?s=articles

  7. Here and There: The Story of the Bangladeshi Community in Camden

    I was lucky enough to be invited to a private view last night (Thursday 27 October 2011) of the latest exhibition at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre .Here and there

    The exhibition, Here and There, details the lives of members of Camden’s Bangladeshi Community through their experiences in both Bangladesh and London. Curated by the Bengali Workers’ Association, the exhibition focuses on the Community’s life in Camden from the 1950s to the present day.

    Today the Bangladeshi Community is well-integrated into Camden life and many members now work as professionals in the area. Bengalis are well-represented politicially too: Councillor Nasim Ali OBE, the Leader of Camden Council, is featured in the exhibition; and Councillor Tulip Siddiq gave an introductory talk at the launch.

    The exhibits themselves are comprised of oral testimonies, recorded as part of a history project by members of the Oral History Society. Robert Wilkinson of the Society told us how few recordings have been made of Bangladeshi memories. He welcomed the Lottery funding that enabled this exhibition and the opportunity to keep these stories alive.

    One of the highlights of the evening was a fascinating talk by the founder of the Bengali Workers’ Association, Abdul Momen. Mr Momen is featured in the exhibition, and related to the audience some of his memories of growing up in Bengal and his esteemed work in Camden, which led to him saving lives through community action and welfare support.

    Born near Calcutta in 1938, Mr Momen’s childhood was disrupted by his father’s career in the postal service. The regular moves across Bengal meant Mr Momen attended eight schools: the saddest part of this, he told us, was that he couldn’t play football as he was never at a school long enough to join the team. He also remembered dark times, such as the horrendous Bengal Famine of 1943. Mr Momen was horrified by the sight of extrememly thin women begging for the starchy water from cooked rice. Happier memories included those of summer holidays at his grandmother’s rural house, where every morning he ran out to collect the ripe mangoes that had fallen from the trees. His life changed completely in 1969 after he received a scholarship to do a doctorate in English at Leeds University. In 1971 he was appointed Asian Community Officer in Camden.

    In February 1976 Mr Momen founded the Bengali Workers Action Group, now the Bengali Workers Association. This acted as an advice centre for issues such as immigration, accommodation and welfare. Today the Association continues to act as a support for members of the Bengali community as well as working closely with NHS Camden, the police, and local and national government. I met Tahmina Khanom who works with senior members of the community, helping to alleviate problems of isolation and language difficulties.

    A wide range of topics are covered in the exhibition, including the themes of village life and education in Bangladesh, migration and the lives of Bangladeshi women; and aspects of life in the UK, such as community, marriage and employment.

    Beside talks, we were also treated to poetry readings, Bengali dancing and wonderfully tasty samosas from the excellent caterers Ambala in nearby Drummond Street.  I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and learning more about my Bangladeshi neighbours.

    The exhibition runs from 8 October to 19 December 2011, and is warmly recommended to anyone visiting central London over the next couple of months.

  8. Not on ancestry: London parish registers #3 St Benet and All Saints Church

    st-benet-front

    This continues the description of Camden parishes not found on www.ancestry.co.ukTo help visualise where in London these are, take a look at the outline map of St Pancras parishes in 1903 at http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/genuki/MDX/StPancras/outline.htm

    Walk from St Mary Brookfield downhill into Kentish Town and you will find St Benet & All Saints in Lupton Street, towering over the backstreets. Like St Mary’s and St Anne’s Brookfield it is a High Victorian church with a High Anglican heritage. Situated at the north end of Kentish Town, bordering the modern borough of Islington, the church was originally part of the civil parish of St Pancras and the Pancras registration district. At the front of the church is a small raised garden, which is open for public use. The church is also referred to as St. Benet and All Saints Lady Margaret Road, Kentish Town. [1881/85] but it is not included in London Metropolitan Archives’ (LMA) records.

    The reason for the confused date of 1881/85 is that the parish has its origins in a mission church built on a small field given by St. John’s College, Cambridge “near a pond just off the Brecknock Road”. Father Frank Rowland opened the original church on 17th July 1881, but it was soon outgrown by its congregation. Eventually, this chapel became the church hall.

    The main church was designed by Joseph Peacock of Bloomsbury in 1884 and built quickly, with the foundation stone being laid on 13th June 1885. The saint’s name was chosen with reference to the Church of St. Benet’s, Paul’s Wharf, Queen Victoria Street – itself a corruption of St Benedict. The then vicar, Frank Oakley Rowland, consecrated the church only months later on All Saints’ Eve. Within a few years, the church’s hastily constructed foundations and a spring under the church, were creating several structural problems.

    In October 1908, the architects, Bodley and Hare, built a permanent chancel. But by 1925, the foundations of the whole were so unstable that the decision was made to take down the nave and rebuild it. London County Council condemned the old nave in November 1927. However, thanks to a legacy from a rich investor, Jeannette Elizabeth Crossthwaite (1845-1923), and “gifts of the faithful”, a new nave, with no aisles, was built in 1928 – again by Cecil G Hare. This was consecrated in November of that year by the Bishop of Willesden.  By the time of her death, Miss Crossthwaite was living at 51 St Charles Square, Notting Hill, but in 1871 she had been living at 106 Brecknock Road – not far from the site of St Benet.

    Today St Benet’s is the parish church of Kentish Town. Kentish Town CofE Primary School in Islip Street (originally Kentish Town National School) is connected, and there are some records relating to this school at LMA http://search.lma.gov.uk The parish registers for St Benet and All Saints continue to be retained by the church. The church’s own website http://www.saintbenets.org.uk/ contains further details.

    For more on the social classes of the parish in 1898-9, see the following page from Charles Booth’s Archive is at http://booth.lse.ac.uk/cgi-bin/do.pl?sub=view_booth_only&args=528970,185490,2,large,1

    Vicars:

    1881 Frank Oakley Rowland (perpetual curate)

    1887 Herbert Edward Hall

    1901 George Villiers Briscoe

    1906 Henry Tristram Valentine

    1913 Robert Caledon Ross

    1925 Harry Herbert Coleman Richardson

    1947 Cecil Eskholme Charlton

    Sources: the history section on http://www.saintbenets.org.uk/; Survey of London: volume 24: The parish of St Pancras part 4: King’s Cross Neighbourhood , Walter H. Godfrey and W. McB. Marcham (editors), 1952; John Richardson, A History of Camden: Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras (Historical Publications Ltd, 1999); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin) 1998; Camden Listed Buildings website; http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk

     st-benet-plaque

    st-benet-side-2

  9. Postal Museum & Archive

    post-map

    Earlier this year, I was researching for a client at the Postal Museum & Archive in Farringdon. At the time, the Archive, around the corner from the vast postal headquarter’s of London’s Mount Pleasant, was in the process of updating its website and adding new material.

    The new website is now ready for use at http://postalheritage.org.uk

    There are some great features to the website such as a blog (http://postalheritage.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/women-in-the-post-office/), history of the post office (http://postalheritage.org.uk/page/history), galleries (http://postalheritage.org.uk/page/144/Online-Exhibitions) and the updated online catalogue (http://catalogue.postalheritage.org.uk/).

    Family historians will probably be most interested in the Family History Research section (http://postalheritage.org.uk/page/genealogy) which includes examples of appointment books (http://postalheritage.org.uk/page/appointments).

    If you are planning a visit to the Archive, I recommend ringing in advance and remember to take some ID! Overall, the Archive and its new website are excellent resources for anyone researching Post Office ancestors.

  10. Save Camden Local Studies and Archives

    On 19 May 2011, Dan Carrier reported in the Camden New Journal (link to online article) that Camden Local Studies and Archives (Camden LS Homepage) is under threat of closure following the publication of the results of the Council’s library consultation.

    The article stated: “as the results of a library consultation are number-crunched and the Town Hall considers how to cut about 25 per cent of the service’s budget, the archives look likely to be merged with Islington’s or closed.”

    John Richardson, Chairman of the Camden History Society (http://www.camdenhistorysociety.org/) argues the consultation suggested that respondents “were in favour of spending less on local studies, not closing it.”

    It is not likely that Camden can merge its archives with that of Islington as Islington’s Local History Centre (Local History Centre) does not have the space to retain the vast resources that Camden LS currently holds (believed to be 180,000 items). Recent rumours suggest the archive could move to London Metropolitan Archives (http://search.lma.gov.uk/opac_lma/index.htm) However, critics of this move, such as the Camden History Society, point out that staff at LMA do not have the Camden-specific knowledge and experience that current researchers find so useful.

    As Dan Carrier wrote, the collection includes muskets from “the Napoleonic wars to maps of every drain in the borough”. With the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth in a few months time, it is important to note that three Dickens unpublished letters are also held in Camden LS. Many of these items are uncatalogued. In London, the only archive larger than Camden’s is that of Westminster City Archives (http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/libraries/archives/).

    It is ironic that councillors are looking to closing the Archives as part of a cost-cutting exercise. On numerous occasions, the Archives have, in fact, helped Camden Council to save money. Former chief archivist Malcolm Holmes told the New Journal of one example whereby using some of the old maps in the collection enabled the Council to save “around £150,000 in 1970s money”.

    It is also odd that Camden’s Council should choose to close the archive whilst in nearby Hackney a new state-of-the-art Archives is currently being built (http://www.hackney.gov.uk/ca-archives.htm) The borough of Hackney is just as badly affected by the cuts, and it is unclear why  investments in local history can be made by its Council but not by Camden’s.

    Camden Local Studies and Archives helps a wide variety of people – many of whom live outside the borough and were not party to the consultation. Those who currently use the Archives include: social, economic & house historians, genealogists, economists, journalists, teachers, schoolchildren, students, council employees, lawyers, builders, and authors. For family historians, its collections of parish rate books (dating from 1726),  local newspapers, electoral registers, theatre programmes, the registers of Highgate Cemetery and the photographs of local interest are invaluable. It also holds the unique Heal Collection on St Pancras and the Kate Greenaway Collection.

    Those who have voiced concern about the impending closure, include best-selling author of The Fields Beneath, Gillian Tindall, as well as Camden New Journal readers from London and beyond. In a letter to the newspaper, Camden resident, Lester May, wrote that, “Camden Council seems set on closing the local studies library and archives service in order to save around £135,000 . . . Thus one of the best resources of its kind in London, perhaps in the country, will be lost and this at a time when more people are interested in their family and local history than ever before. . . The loss of the local studies collection and archive would be permanent. There is sufficient in the council’s reserve of £95.8million for consideration to be given to funding the local studies library and archive service such that it is retained as a local service within the borough, ideally where it is currently located in Holborn.”

    John Richardson states that the Camden History Society “is particularly concerned . . . [about] its closure and its contents [being] shipped elsewhere . . . Camden are taking £135,000 out of the Local Studies budget, in effect making it impossible to function.” He argues further that this not what the consultation response indicated.

    The collections cover the area of the present London Borough of Camden. This includes the history of Hampstead, Holborn, St Pancras, Camden Town, Somers Town, Kentish Town, parts of Highgate, and the parishes of Hampstead, St Andrew Holborn above Bars, including the Liberty of Saffron Hill, St George the Martyr Queen Square, St Giles in the Fields, St George Bloomsbury, and St Pancras. The earliest parish records date from 1618.

    Update 7 June 2011

    Yesterday, on Monday 6 June, I attended a Camden Council scrutiny meeting of the library report. The Town Hall was packed with library and archives supporters. Gillian Tindall, author of The Fields Beneath, spoke as part of the deputation on behalf of the Camden History Society. She said that if Camden Local Studies is closed, it will be “a great loss for future generations” and “would be a black stain” on Camden Council’s record. Holborn Library Users Group was also represented (the Archives are housed in Holborn Library’s building). The group’s deputation argued that the loss of the Archives to Camden would be irreplaceable, and condemned the report’s suggestion that Local Studies provision be outsourced. The speaker further said that no library buildings in whole or in part should be sold without full public consultation. This was greeted with cheers and clapping from the gallery.

    Tudor Allen, Senior Archivist at Camden Local Studies & Archives, told the Councillors present that he would like to publicize the value of the material they hold. He reminded those present that the collection is invaluable.

    One councillor announced that she had to contact the Archives that very day about the oldest Market in Camden for a press release. This only goes to show how essential Camden Local Studies is to the smooth running of the entire council.

    Fiona Dean, the Council’s Assistant Director of Culture, said that they had spoken with the British Library, local university libraries, LMA & Islington about housing the records. However, they were agreed that keeping the archives within Camden is preferred option. Near the end of the meeting, Councillor Tulip Siddiq, the cabinet member for Culture, stated that the Archives will stay in Theobalds Road until suitable accommodation is found for them within the borough of Camden.

    The decision on Camden’s libraries & archives will be announced at Town Hall on this Wednesday, 8 June. Supporters of the Archives are urged to telephone their councillors before next Wednesday to ask them to vote for Option D.

    A full list of Camden’s councillors can be found on the Camden Council website.

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