Call to collect lockdown memories of Tameside

Tameside Local Studies and Archives and Tameside Culture are asking people to save and share their memories as Tameside follows Government advice to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Items will be chosen to remain in the archives in order to record experiences for the future and will show how Tameside experienced and reacted during lockdown.

Working with interference-art, Tameside Local Studies and Archives have created a series of top tips and templates to help collect your memories, whatever your age. We have seen many stories of people volunteering and helping each other, lots of rainbows, and dancing, and wonder how lives have changed for people as we cope with shopping, looking after family, home schooling and events such as celebrating birthdays and observing Ramadan during lockdown. All stories and experiences from everyone, good or bad, are valid, and we want to collect as much as we can, to have a record from Tameside communities about this time.

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We can at this time collect digital items from the Tameside area such as photographs, blog posts, online diaries, interviews, art and poems-anything that represent Tameside at this time. Our tips and templates have more information and give advice on the best format to send in your contributions to the archive. You can download our templates and find more information below. Please send your digital contributions and/or questions to: archives@tameside.gov.uk.

You can also collect paper based material relating to COVID-19 in Tameside, create scrapbooks and develop diaries which can be saved until you are able to bring them in to the archive in person.

Whether you’re sending something digital now, or waiting to hand in paper-based material, please remember to comply with Government guidelines and not to put yourself or anyone else at risk at any time.

The Archives team will get back to you if you, or we, need any further information. Please make sure that this is your own work and that you have permission to use people’s thoughts and comments.  We can keep items anonymous if requested and we will be sensitive to issues of data protection in assessment, description, and access to any materials offered to us.

Please click through the following images to see our resources on how best to record your experiences through journals, photographs, and interviews:
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Whichever of the above you choose to use, please also fill in the below form so that we can process any material appropriately at Local Studies.

Donation permission form

‘I’m a Rambler, I’m a Rambler from Manchester way…’

Where can we go?

Laura Smyth, Local Studies Library Assistant writes

As we continue to ‘stay alert’ to limit the spread of the Coronavirus in our community, we are encouraged to think about daily exercise either on our own or with immediate family members, but at all times respecting the rules of social-distancing.

Where we choose to walk has been contentious as some have chosen to drive to beauty spots which had to close as there have been too many people. A booking system is in place at the most popular places. We can now meet up to 6 people, outside our household, according to current Government legislation, though this can change rapidly, we can check the current Government guidelines when planning our walk  current legislation  

Many rights of way much closer to home are available to walk without the need for a car. This has not always been the case.

How odd then that I came across a 1927 newspaper report in the Ashton Reporter of a large group of people demanding their right to cross a piece of land at Gigg Brook and coming into dispute with a local farmer. This was of course illustrating the work of the Rambler’s Association in pressing for the opportunity to walk in our countryside, something that eventually came to a head in 1932 when over 3000 ramblers trespassed the land at Kinderscout in the Peak District from which actions, the legislation changed.

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©Tameside Image Archive T10112 Trinity Methodist Church members on a ramble in Castleton, Derbyshire

Anyway, back to the article from 1927

In March 1927 a group of ramblers, both men and women had gone to earn the right to walk along the Benfield footpath on the Compstall slopes of Werneth Low and were said to have  had a ‘thrilling’ experience on that Saturday afternoon.

The newspaper report states that ‘when arrived at the Gigg Brook, they met with the active opposition of the farmer, his son and a dairyman. A barbed wire fence stretched across, and the three opposed a crowd of 150.

Surprisingly, The Reporter newspaper wrote that ‘the struggle was an uneven one. After a series of exciting scuffles in the brook, about a foot deep in water, the ramblers scrambled through and up the opposite bank. There were however, a series of minor casualties, and clothes were torn, and splashed with mud, boots soaked through and one man badly cut his finger on the wire’.

The walk had been organised by the Manchester Federation of Ramblers Association who wished to draw attention to the highly disputed path which they saw as a public right of way. This was supported by local walking groups such as the Hyde Footpaths Preservation Society who met a ‘good section of the ramblers’ at Woodley Station.

From here they walked through Gee Cross to Benfields Farm and were ‘reinforced by a good number of ladies’ along the way whom, like their male counterparts, were well shod, some wearing Russian or Wellington boots’.

The area has been in dispute for over 20 years as the Hyde Footpath Preservation Society had ‘taken steps’ to end the controversy and allow the public the right of way.

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©Tameside Local Studies and Archives T10223 Benfield Footpath – mass trespass

Why complain about our rights of way?

Walking became a popular pastime in the 19th century when legislation changed for workers which allowed them a degree of ‘free’ time. As this was something families and friends could partake in without any cost apart from maybe a railway ticket, the public left the confines of their terraced street and ventured into the fresh air of the countryside.

However although the newly used Ordnance Survey maps were clearly marked with public rights of way that were taken from the tithe maps of earlier that century and had been deemed available to travel along for centuries, land owners and farmers alike had not experienced any problems with fencing these off to allow their cattle to roam or crops to be sown.

As the new pastime gathered pace, people viewed to be trespassing grew, and the two parties on ‘either side of the fence’ locked horns.

From this the Ramblers Association evolved and by the 1920s, had sought out areas of contention to ‘fight for’ as a public right of way.

Benfield’s Farm was one such area and on numerous occasions societies interested in the freedom of walking approached the local council to request that any obstructions to that opportunity be removed.

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Taken from the Ashton Reporter, 12th March 1927

Opposition to such proposals

However there was stern opposition not just from the farmer in question but also by a Professor Findley of nearby Clough Side Farm and of Manchester University, who shouted at the crowd that they were not rate payers of the Parish as they had travelled in and therefore would make no contribution to the upkeep of the path.

The agitated parties involved became more heated as the Reporter article continues. ‘The most exciting scene occurred shortly afterwards…. the crowd passed through the wicket which led to the rushing Gigg Brook at the bottom which marked the dividing point between the land attached to the Benfield Farm and that of Clough Side Farm…. The ramblers often slipped into holes and then sank several inches into the wet soil.’

Gradually the crowd made their way along the pathway jostling with those in opposition and although fights did not break out, the report suggests that clothing was torn and certainly muddied in the demonstration. However, any barbed wire in their way was cut through and the company proceeded to the end of the disputed path.

In a later statement made by Mr Bury , Chairman of the Hyde Footpath Preservation Society stated ‘The problem was not what it is when we first commenced the agitation. The obstructions originally commenced at the gate leading from Benfield Farm . This gate originally bore the caption ‘No Road’ but this has now been removed and for the first portion of the disputed path, the Benfield side of the brook, the farmer has admitted our claim, and now offers no opposition….. We hope before long the other farmer will be brought to reason, and that arrangements satisfactory to all concerned will be made.’

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©Tameside Local Studies and Archives. t10113 Trinity Methodist Church members on a ramble

Today, the farm in the dispute is now known as Far Benfield and the public right of way from the road through to Gigg Brook and beyond is shown on the local Ordnance Survey Maps.

For more information about the Rambling Association history in the area, please check our on-line catalogue and our image archive.  You can get in touch with us by email localstudies.library@tameside.gov.uk 

What is it like to be a volunteer at Local Studies?

Well, at the moment, probably a bit quiet… but only temporarily. It’s Volunteer week, and we’ve already had a look at some of the ways people make it possible for us to provide our service. Today, to wrap up the week, we take a look at the work of two volunteers in slightly closer detail.

We spoke to Irene, who has been volunteering with us for over 7 years, and Alison who is far newer to working with us, having started just under a year and a half ago.

So what inspired Irene to get involved? “I had worked in libraries so it was a natural choice to ask if I could help them, and I started the week after I took early retirement in September 2012.  I already knew a few of the staff and everyone was cheerful and friendly.

For Alison, volunteering at the archive was a chance to explore her favourite subject, “I have volunteered for many years in different things. I was looking to get involved in the work of an archivist and there were a couple of local centres who were willing to take volunteers.  As a history graduate I am extremely interested in the work that is undertaken at the centre, so this was the first choice.

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Just some of the Manchester Regiment material Irene has been working on…

Irene has taken on various tasks during her time volunteering with us, most recently working on our Manchester Regiment Archive, checking the material is all present, and that the catalogue was correct. This is the kind of project that our staff simply would not have time to do so thoroughly themselves, and as such working with our wonderful volunteers allows us to take better care of our collections. As Irene explains, her work has been extremely varied: “These could be anything: orders, letters, diaries, photograph albums, reports, personal papers, each box was so interesting. My job was to check that all the items listed on the box were present and that no items were missing. This has taken about 2 years so far but is nearly finished. My favourite item is a letter from a mother from Ashton to her son aged 15, who had joined up in 1915 and gone to Egypt. That was definitely one to remember.

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Some of the varied items in the Harry Lever collection…

Alison has been working on the Harry Lever collection. A well-known local historian, the documents are extremely varied, and although the collection is not enormous, it relates to many different aspects of Harry’s life. She has been box-listing the material, making it quicker and easier for us to make the material available for researchers. This particular volunteer and role came together extremely well, as Alison explains: “Mr Lever’s work is predominantly focused on Hyde, Flowery Field, Newton in particular. As a local myself, as my parents are also, every week I learn something new or am reminded of something from long ago that I or my family is connected to.

Bringing her local knowledge to the role has been beneficial for us, but also made the role more enjoyable for her. “I am a great believer in volunteering in general, but this role has also allowed me to share stories with my family who remember places and stories that are held in the archives. Every week the first question when I see my parents is ‘what have you found today?’. It’s great for carrying on the dialogue with people who remember the shops, roads etc. that are long since gone.

As well as subject knowledge, volunteers also bring their specific skills to their roles. Being so experienced in libraries, Irene was a perfect fit to jump straight into some of the more technical projects: “When I started I was helping to add information from the card catalogued items onto a searchable database, which was their online catalogue. There were a few other volunteers doing this and we would each complete a drawer of cards before moving onto the next one. It took a number of years before this was completed and it was absorbing work.

Of course, one of the most enjoyable aspects of volunteering at an Archive is the things you learn and the items you come across, some of which make a lasting impression. Irene came across such an item whilst working on the card catalogues: “The item I remember most was a book called “The Elephant who walked to Manchester”. I was working just from a card so this item was one that I wanted to know more about and I waited until the project was finished before viewing the book. The elephant called Maharajah had been bought at an auction in Edinburgh in 1872 by Belle Vue Zoo. The plan had been to transport him by train but he had damaged a railway carriage. It was decided he should walk, accompanied of course! The journey took 20 days and Belle Vue Zoo had crowds ready to greet him. The event passed into zoological folklore and this book investigates the story.”

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Some of the photos in the Harry Lever collection, revealing his wide range of interests.

Volunteering also teaches one thing that cannot be learnt except through working closely with archives – as a volunteer, staff-member, researcher, or just interested member of the public – and that is the importance of preserving local history:

I would imagine that many people are unaware of the many resources that are held at the archives. It is so important that history is recorded as it is easily lost. It also holds a wealth of information and as such is a great starting point for many investigations. It is very reassuring to know that so much is being held for posterity.

So, would our volunteers recommend that others go for volunteering opportunities that may arise in the future? Yes, they would!

I find the main benefit of volunteering is the sense of belonging to something, something that can be lost on retirement. So if you are at a loose end and you think you would like something to do, then volunteer! You will get as much out of it as they will benefit from you.

Do it.  What have you got to lose? You never know where it will lead to, the people you will meet or the new and surprising things you will learn.  The staff at the centre are incredibly friendly and I was made to feel very welcome from the first time I walked through the door.

Thank you so much to Irene and Alison for taking the time to answer our questions, and to all of our volunteers for making such a difference to our service! Well, with that in mind, it’s time for a shameless plug…

Keep Smiling!

Going forward, we are looking also at ways that we can offer volunteering in the future and this may involve more remote volunteering while there are restrictions in place.  This will allow us to offer opportunities to more people to get involved in various ways who may not have had the opportunity before and to further open up the archives.

We have a new project on the horizon, Smile! Tameside.  The project was recently awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant and involves digitising some of the negatives from the Reporter Newspaper Photograph collection and making them available for the public to access online.

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Some of the negatives from the Reporter Photograph Collection

This project is currently on hold, but when we are able, we will be asking for volunteers who are interested in digitising and cataloguing the negatives and researching the stories held in the archives.  This will help us to get the photographs online to make them accessible to a wider audience.  If you are interested and want to get involved in digitising, cataloguing, researching places and events, writing for social media and the newspaper, would like to improve skills, meet new people and be part of preserving the images for future generations, please contact jane.donaldson@tameside.gov.uk

We couldn’t do it without you!

This week is volunteers week which gives us a chance to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the volunteers that help at Tameside Local Studies and Archives.  Volunteers help on various projects gaining skills and often sharing their own skills to help in many aspects of archive and heritage work.  This helps us to make more archives avaliable for use by as many people as possible.  Although, due to the current circumstances volunteering on site is on hold, we have described some of the volunteers and the projects they are undertaking. We couldn’t do it withought all the hard work and dedication from all our volunteers!

Local Studies & Archives Volunteers

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Peterloo Exhibition created by the Local History Forum

We have a total of sixteen volunteers that come in every week undertaking a variety of projects from helping the public to restoring archives. Their work is vital to our progress as they get to do work that we would be unable to do whilst dealing with the day to day running of the Archive Centre.

Over the years they have helped in a number of projects such as checking the Reporter Newspaper Collection photographs against lists to ensure the right item is in the right place, and more recently, some research on VE celebrations in the past across Tameside.

Family History

We have at least six volunteers that help the public search for their family history. They provide a free service each Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday morning from booked appointments and also every 1st and 3rd Tuesday afternoon which are drop-in sessions.

This is a very useful service especially for those that cannot use the internet, as the volunteers will do the researching on the websites. Some have been providing this service for more than 15 years, and have been successful in achieving the ‘Volunteer of the Year Award’. We are looking forward to resuming this service and are looking at the best way that we may be able to do this when we are open again.

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Family History Volunteer

Clean it up!

You will have read last week about the fantastic work that the guys from The Sense of Place project have been doing.  As part of their work on the Sense of Place project, they received training on basic cleaning of materials.  An earlier blog post describes the training they received.

They have cleaned over 600 Stamford Estate plans that were really dirty and very difficult for the public to access. These are important documents, as they show the area in Ashton, Stalybridge and nearby from 1796-1966, the land that was owned by Lord Stamford, and how it has changed over the years.  In 2019, the team were nominated for volunteers of the year and came runners up.  When asked about something that had surprised him about volunteering, John answered:
Getting an award! That was a real surprise! I knew we’d been nominated for one but I never thought we would win it. It was such a shock as we never thought we’d stand a chance. We had just gone along to Central Library for the event and for an evening out. It hit home how appreciated the work we had done was.
I also surprised myself throughout the project. My confidence has grown so much and I feel a lot more independent.

Norman said:
Winning a Greater Manchester archiving award was a really moving moment for me. We weren’t expecting it and it came as a complete shock. I felt that I was getting so much out of volunteering but didn’t think I was contributing that much! It was a great evening that I’ll never forget!

NormanandJohn_cleaning_Stamford_Papers
John and Norman cleaning soot covered plans from the Stamford papers.

Needle in a haystack.

We all wish we could find everything online when we are doing research, but someone has to make the information available. We have a number of volunteers doing just that. They input information into a database which we are able to make available to the public. Over recent years volunteers searched through the newspapers from 1914-1919  for local people who had died during WW1. Now the database is available to search for names and the information in the newspaper can easily be found.

One of our recent volunteers worked on the Goad map collections and wrote a blog post about her work.

We have also had a couple of volunteers re-housing the archives to make sure that they are housed in the best conditions on order to preserve their condition.  Whilst doing this, they are also able to check against the catalogue that the correct items are in the correct boxes. This is vital work to ensure we can provide as much infomation as we can about the archives we hold and are able to retrieve the items that have been requested.  One of our volunteers wrote about her volunteer work and an exciting find in the Manchester Regiment Collection.

Keep Smiling!

Going forward, we are looking also at ways that we can offer volunteering in the future and this may involve more remote volunteering while there are restrictions in place.  This will allow us to offer opportunities to more people to get involved in various ways who may not have had the opportunity before and to further open up the archives.

We have a new project on the horizon, Smile! Tameside.  The project was recently awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant and involves digitising some of the negatives from the Reporter Newspaper Photograph collection and making them available for the public to access online.

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Some of the negatives from the Reporter Photograph Collection

This project is currently on hold, but when we are able, we will be asking for volunteers who are interested in digitising and cataloguing the negatives and researching the stories held in the archives.  This will help us to get the photographs online to make them accessible to a wider audience.  If you are interested and want to get involved in digitising, cataloguing, researching places and events, writing for social media and the newspaper, would like to improve skills, meet new people and be part of preserving the images for future generations, please contact jane.donaldson@tameside.gov.uk

 

Archives, volunteers and wellbeing

We’re missing working with our brilliant volunteers. While our doors are closed, we’ve asked them share their volunteer stories – here’s a snippet ahead of Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June).

John and Norman help with our local studies and archives Sense of Place project. Here’s a flavour of their volunteer stories – come back during Volunteers’ Week 1 – 7 June to read more!

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Sense of Place Volunteers taking part in oral history training from Ella Wild .

Volunteering Gives us a Sense of Place…

John and Norman have been volunteering for 2.5 years at the Tameside Local Studies and Archives centre.

How we give our time…

We volunteer at the Local Studies and Archives centre every Tuesday for 2 – 2.5 hours.

J  Across my time volunteering at the archives I have done a variety of tasks: rehoming, cataloguing, preservation, microfilm, blogging, planning and hosting exhibitions and much more. My main task now is to clean the Stamford papers – a collection of plans, maps and deeds for the local area – and make them accessible to the public.

N My favourite task has been cleaning the Stamford papers – I love seeing them go from grubby and unreadable to being clean and clear. I feel like I’m really helping by getting these available for people to use.

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John and Norman cleaning soot covered plans from the Stamford papers at Tameside Local Studies and Archives..

Why it matters to me…

J It gets me out and about and gives me lots of opportunities to socialise which I now love! I’ve formed some good friendships from volunteering and learnt some brilliant skills that I get to use all the time. I’ve made memories that I’ll never forget and have been able to contribute to, and be part of, local history.

N I am also surprised at how social I have become and now feel confident going out and meeting others. I’ve had a massive boost in confidence and I’ve become really social. I feel a lot busier and seem to be getting involved in lots of things. Some of us volunteers even stay in touch and meet up outside of volunteering. The archives have given me a much wider knowledge of the local community and history. I have also gained loads of new skills.

What archives can give us….

J I think it offers people an amazing opportunity to trace family linage and history. You can also gain a lot of local knowledge. I think the archives centre gives a good sense of community and is always ready to welcome new people.

N It can give the public knowledge of their local area. People can research their family history and reconnect with relatives. It provides a safe place for people to learn and gives them a chance to be part of the community.

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John and Heather checking microfilm newspaper records.

All images courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives.

A HUGE thank you to John, Norman and all our volunteers! Thanks too to Heather at Adullam Homes.

Why does giving through volunteering matter?
At Local Studies & Archives, we’ve been working together with Adullam Homes Housing Association to make a volunteering model that matters. Our Sense of Place volunteers give by building skills and confidence in important archive tasks like box listing, cataloguing, research and blogging digitisation, oral history; they’ve also worked with an artist for an exhibition. Their work helps us to care for and share local history.

Volunteering and wellbeing
Giving doesn’t just help improve the lives of others, it’s one of the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ that help us look after our own mental health. Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings, a sense of reward, giving you feelings of purpose and self-worth and helping you connect with other people.

While our doors are closed…
Why not read more local history blog posts here, written by our staff and volunteers? Our website has links to our on-line catalogue and our image archive. You can get in touch with us by email at localstudies.library@tameside.gov.uk 

Future volunteering – get involved in the SMILE! project…
Thanks to a successful application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, a grant has been secured to digitise and catalogue photographic negatives from the Tameside Reporter collection which is held by the council’s Local Studies and Archives service. Digitising and cataloguing the photographs will mean they will be accessible to the public and be able to be used for research, as well as allowing people to look back at events and stories in the Tameside area and preserve the images for future generations.

Once back in the archive building we will be asking for volunteers who are interested in digitising and cataloguing the negatives and researching the stories held in the archives.  This will help us to get the photographs online to make them accessible to a wide audience.  If you are interested and want to get involved in digitising, cataloguing, researching places and events, writing for social media and the newspaper, would like to improve skills, meet new people and be part of preserving the images for future generations, please contact jane.donaldson@tameside.gov.uk

Portland Basin Museum and Wellbeing

We’re missing our visitors. While our doors are closed, we’ve been sharing stories for wellbeing inspired by our art, museum and archive collections; here Curatorial team Michelle Hill and Alex Leese tell us what it means for Portland Basin Museum when people give their treasured objects.

Why donations matter to the museum…

Portland Basin Museum in Ashton-under-Lyne cares for and displays social, domestic and industrial objects. We love to accept donations from the people of Tameside, especially objects with stories attached to them. People don’t usually think we would be interested in more contemporary objects, but objects familiar to us today will tell stories of how we lived to people in the future, so it’s really important to collect items from the more recent past, and even today.

What donations mean to us as curators…

One of the best bits of the job is sitting down with donors and hearing all the stories behind the objects they’re giving to the museum. That’s where we find out not just the facts but the feelings and experiences of real people in the past. The objects donated allow us to build a picture of what moments in our history actually looked like – it’s almost like time travel!

A recent donation story…

A donation of items from Ashton Grammar School – now Ashton Sixth Form College – came to us earlier this year. Ashton Grammar School dates back to the 17th century. Later, Titus Tetlow left money in his will (26 June 1890) to promote education of both sexes and the school has seen many changes since; finally getting its own building on Darnton Road in 1928. In 1980 the school became Ashton Sixth Form College. The booklets, play programmes and uniforms given to us span about a century of local history; they provide a really interesting timeline of changes in education.

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School cap worn between 1958-65

 

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‘The Ashtonian’ was the School Magazine for Ashton Grammar School

 

‘Staff picks’…

Recognise any of these?! The museum doesn’t just collect ‘old stuff’ – we hope you see some familiar sights here. What everyday objects bring you joy or conjure up memories? What of today would you want to share with people in the future?

Nokia model 6500, c.2007
Nokia 6500 model (c.2007)

subbuteo team, 1970s
Subbuteo Team (1970s)

Subbuteo Team (1970s)

Olympus camera, mid 2000s
Olympus camera (mid 2000s)

 

GPO telephone, 1970s
GPO telephone (1970s)

All images in this blog are courtesy of Tameside Museums and Galleries Service.

5 Ways to Wellbeing: “Give”
Giving doesn’t just help improve the lives of others, it’s one of the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ that help us look after our own mental health. Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings, a sense of reward, giving you feelings of purpose and self-worth and helping you connect with other people. How can you look after your wellbeing by doing something for someone else right now?

While our doors are closed…
We can’t accept donations during Covid-19 restrictions, but if you’re considering giving something to the museum you are welcome to get in touch.

Explore the collections at Portland Basin Museum online

Find out more about Ashton Grammar School who recently donated some brilliant school heritage objects to Portland Basin Museum.

Museums and wellbeing

We’re missing working with our brilliant volunteers. While our doors are closed, we’ve been sharing stories for wellbeing inspired by our art, museum and archive collections – it’s time for the voices of our volunteers who give us so much.

Giving doesn’t just help improve the lives of others, it’s one of the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ that help us look after our own mental health. Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings, a sense of reward, giving you feelings of purpose and self-worth and helping you connect with other people. What can you do for someone else right now?

Matt helps with our museum team’s Men Behind the Medals project. Here’s his volunteer story…

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Volunteer Matt. Image courtesy Matt and Tameside Museums and Galleries Service.

Matt and the Men Behind the Medals

I have been volunteering for around a year or so. It started as I needed a project for my master’s course so I emailed the museum asking if they had anything that I could be involved with. Curator Michelle emailed back suggesting that I take part in the Men Behind the Medals project which includes researching and writing biographies on the men of the Manchester Regiment. I have stayed with the Museum after my project with the university concluded as I wanted to continue with the Men Behind the Medals; it is an important project which might otherwise see little attention.

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William Johnson’s medal (detail). Image courtesy Tameside Museums and Galleries Service.

How I give my time…

(Before lockdown) I’ve been spending one day every two weeks at the museum. My main task is conducting research into the medals that have been donated to the museum. This includes using websites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast to locate documents relevant to the men that the medals belonged to so that it can be written up into a biography.

Why it matters to me…

I have always had an interest with military history since I was a child. When I was told about the project, I felt it was a good fit for me as I was able to give these soldiers a voice where they would otherwise have not had one.

My favourite museum objects…

There is a collection of medals that supposedly belonged to a soldier called William Johnson, however upon closer inspection they had a number of owners. This includes William Johnson, his father (also called William) plus a William Johnson who served with the Canadian Engineers plus other medals that did not belong to any William Johnson but a different name entirely.  It was fun and challenging trying to piece together an explanation of why they were in one set and trying to find information about the soldiers that they belong to; so this set has stood out to me.

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William Johnson’s medals. Image courtesy Tameside Museums and Galleries Service.

Volunteering gives to me too…

I really enjoy conducting the research into the men, particularly where there is a lot of information to delve into, so I can write a detailed and interesting biography. I also enjoy it when the research is challenging but I then ‘crack the case’ and find out a large amount information about the person.

I am looking into working in the museum industry so this is providing me with valuable experience which I may be able to use in a job. It has also given me fulfilment as I am giving back to the community and may be helping families to learn about their family members that served with the Manchester Regiment.

What I think the museum’s collection gives to the community…

The museum holds objects that are a key part of the local history that would otherwise be forgotten or lost. The museum enables people to view these pieces of history and learn about events that would otherwise not be mentioned. This is especially true of local history that national museums would not be able to mention.

Why does giving through volunteering matter?

Volunteering can offer an insight into the past and our own history. I’ve been surprised by quite how much stuff the museum has and the wide variety of things that the museum owns. Objects within the collection can be forgotten if volunteers do not catalogue it, which can result in that history being ‘lost’. I would strongly recommend volunteering to anyone who is considering it as you can find unique items that can have very interesting history to them that may even end up in an exhibition.

While our doors are closed…
At this strange and difficult time, we want to say thank you to the people give their time to help us care for and share our museum and archive collections.

Read stories of the Manchester Regiment’s Men Behind The Medals on the website.

Watch a video to find out more about the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’.

International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Florence at 200

Florence-Nightingale
Florence Nightingale by Henry Hering, copied by Elliott & Fry half-plate glass copy negative, 1950s (late 1856-1857) NPG x82368 © National Portrait Gallery, London
 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have designated this, 2020, as the ‘International year of the Nurse & Midwife’ which also links with the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale.  Born on 12 May 1820, she became known as the Lady with the Lamp and nursed wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.  She set up the first nursing school to allow training for women who were repressed at the time.  She also wrote books about basic nursing skills that even those from humble backgrounds could understand.

John Ryland’s library in Manchester have a very interesting blog that you can read about Florence’s influence in the area.

Local Heroines

There are many nurses who worked locally who have recently been recognised. Charlotte Seymour Yapp, a pioneering nurse, was honoured with a blue plaque at Tameside General Hospital last year.

Charlotte-Seymour-Yapp
Blue plaque for Charlotte Seymour Yapp. Image courtesy of Tameside Hospital

 

Charlotte Seymour Yapp is recognised for her work at Lake Hospital in Ashton-Under-Lyne and played a significant role in the early days of the General Nursing Council (GNC). She was an active member of the Poor Law Nursing Association, and was tireless in her efforts to raise standards and promote Poor Law Nursing in the early part of the last century.

Clarinda Rowbotham

Clarinda Rowbotham
Clarinda Rowbotham of Mossley.  Image courtesy of Rita Vaughan

Another blue plaque in Tameside commemorates Clarinda Rowbotham of Mossley. She was the areas first school nurse and during World War 1 was the Sister in Charge at the Military Hospital based at The Mechanics Institute, Birbeck Street, and was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal 2nd Class.

During World War Two Clarinda helped to provide a First Aid service to the Air Raid Shelters in Mossley, and was awarded the Defence Medal. Several family sets of sisters served at Mossley Military Hospital: they were the Allen, Clegg, Coyne, Hallam, and Rowbotham’s. Clarinda is believed to be the most highly decorated woman from Mossley.

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St John’s Ambulance Brigade, No. IV District, Voluntary Aid Detachment c 1940 t10595



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Two Red Cross nurses, World War II t22864

Modern times

In the 2020 New Years Honours List, a local midwife, Nicoltte Peel, was awarded the MBE for her work setting up the charity ‘Mummy’s Star’. It provides support for women who have been diagnosed with cancer during pregnacy.

With the current climate of the serious epidemic of Corona Virus, all our NHS workers deserve recognition for all their hard work and for putting their lives at risk to save others. So many people have raised millions of pounds for the NHS during these uncertain times, lets hope that we can continue to support our fabulous nurses and midwives.

For more information about the Rambling Association history in the area, please check our on-line catalogue and our image archive.  You can get in touch with us by email localstudies.library@tameside.gov.uk 

Find out more information from our website which has links to our on-line catalogue and our image archive.  You can also get in touch with us by email localstudies.library@tameside.gov.uk 

 

VE Day Celebrations

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VE Day celebrations – Street Party, Queen Street, Dukinfield,

Street parties, dancing and singing were heard all over Europe as the end of six years of war was announced. May 8th is Victory in Europe, VE-Day and it gave the chance for communities to celebrate and get together in towns and cities.

War had cost the lives of millions, homes and cities had been destroyed and there had been huge suffering felt by many and so the news that Germany had surrended was met with parties and celebration.

We look at how some of the towns of Tameside celebrated.

Solemn and Steadfast
Dukinfield celebrated the end of hostilities with Germany in the same steadfast manner which they maintained during the war. A public service of thanksgiving in front of the Town Hall attracted 5,000 people including various members of war-time organisations. This was followed by a VE-Day party in Foundry Street.

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Dukinfield/Stalybridge VE day Street party to celebrate end of World War Two

Flags and Fireworks
Mossley also celebrated the occasion with a thanksgiving service, flags bunting, bonfires, dancing, and other entertainment. One of the spectacles was the floodlit Town Hall, illuminated after so much darkness during the War. The best display of flags and bunting was at Brookbottom and the residence of Mr & Mrs Bottomley. Fireworks could be heard on a number of nights. Pubs and clubs were packed to capacity, but at no time was there any undue hooliganism.

Party and Dancing
At their headquarters in Katherine Street, the Ashton branch of the British Red Cross Society gave a party for over 120 children whose soldier fathers had been killed or taken prisoner. The tea of an amazing variety of sandwiches, fancies and biscuits followed by trifle was served by the ladies’ and mens’ detachments.  Thirteen year old Marlene Goulden, whose father was a prisoner in Japan, sang and tap-danced to Yankie Doodle Dandy, followed by more singing and dancing. On leaving, each child got a present of a painting book, an orange and some nuts.

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Victory celebrations – a street party on Hope Street/Russell Street, Ashton-under-Lyne

Tulips and Tea
The Mayoress of Stalybridge was guest of honour at a delightful party held in Brushes Road, Stalybridge, one of many parties held throughout the town. She presented each child present with a 3d piece coin, and was in turn given a bunch of tulips. A tasty tea was followed by music on the accordion by Mr George Hurst and racing, games and ices for the children. Later there were races for the adults with prizes of saving stamps. The evening ended in Oxford Street with Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse films shown in the street from 10.30 till midnight.

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V. E. Day Party on Mount Street, Stalybridge

Celebrations 2020
Although planned parties and commemorations are unable to happen this year as planned, there are events happening around Tameside which people are encouraged to join in with while staying at home.

Our website has links to our on-line catalogue and our image archive.  You can get in touch with us by email localstudies.library@tameside.gov.uk 

(T)hat’s the Ticket! Hatting in Tameside

Who would have thought it?
During the 19th and early 20th centuries Denton, now part of Tameside, was the largest manufacturing centre for all manner of hats, from head gear for Arctic expeditions to the most refined of hats for formal events! Hats made in Denton were exported all over the world and the hatting industry was a major source of employment for both men and women in the town.

There’s more to a hat than meets the eye!

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Samples of feathers for hat bands, Denton Hatting

At Home
Traditional hat manufacture began as long ago as the sixteenth century when local farmers made coarse felt from wool and rabbit fur.

The making of these products involved eleven major processes which were split between home working and separate, small workshops.

By the 1840s there was a slump in the industry. Felt hats were no longer in fashion. An economic depression meant that many workers left in the area in search of work elsewhere.

In the factory
After 1860 new hatting machinery from America meant greater productivity and specialised factory buildings. Single structures were used for the wet processes (preparation, forming, felting, proofing and dying) and multi-storey buildings for shaping, trimming and finishing.

By the end of the decade, firms like Christy & Co in Stockport and J. Moores & Sons in Denton were almost fully mechanised, making it simpler and easier to produce both the popular felted fur hat and its silk counterpart.

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Wilsons Hat Factory, trimming process, Denton c. 1900s

Boom and Bust
The turn of the century saw a consolidation of this newfound growth. There were now eighty-eight wool felt hat manufacturers in Great Britain. Denton formed the largest industrial centre with thirty-six firms. Stockport followed with sixteen companies, whilst Hyde and Manchester each had four. In 1907, the majority of the nearly 16 and a half million felt hats made in England were made in Denton and Stockport. The north-west had emerged as a hatting powerhouse.

The First World War brought about the loss of overseas markets and by 1921 the industry was employing a third less workers than it had done in 1911. Despite this decrease, 41% of the working population of Denton (9,653) were still engaged in occupations related to the hatting industry.

In the following year the felt hat industry produced only 790,000 dozen hats from a production capacity of two million dozen. The felt making firms in Stockport and Denton invested in new products to try and increase profits. One such example is the ‘Attaboy’ woollen hat which was manufactured by the Denton Hat Company.

Moores hats
An Advert for Moores Hats ©Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History

The Second World War
Initially the outbreak of war led to a number of problems for the industry, with the loss of male workers to the army and the allocation of female workers to better paid jobs in munitions factories. The increase in huge government orders for the manufacture of military head gear exacerbated the crisis. In an effort to overcome this severe labour shortfall, former married female employees were encouraged to return to work.

1950s decline
Following the war the British hat trade went into a steep decline. The further shrinking of global markets was compounded by a move away from wearing hats as part of everyday fashion.

One attempt to combat the downturn was taken in the North-West when, in 1966, a number of hat makers in the region merged to form the Associated British Hat Manufacturers Ltd (ABHM).  This company comprised the five largest firms in the Stockport and Tameside areas: Battersby & Co Ltd, Christy & Co Ltd, T & W Lees, J Moores & Sons Ltd, Joseph Wilson & Sons Ltd.

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Part of an exhibition of hats by Joseph Howe & Sons Ltd at industrial show, Denton 1960s

This new enterprise had a 40% share of the felt hat market, overseeing a workforce of 1,100. By 1972 the ABHM was based at just two manufacturing sites – Christy’s Hillgate Factory, and the Wilton Street Factory in Denton. There were still some smaller firms in existence – for example the Denton Hat Company – but they could not compete with the reach and influence of ABHM and most had closed by the 1970s.

Modern Hatting
The 1980s saw the continued decline of the industry. By the following decade most firms had closed. Christy’s Hat Works shut it doors in 1997 and its factory was demolished. Today felt hats are made mainly in Australia, China, Poland, Russia and America.  There are, however, still a small number of British companies who have resurrected domestic production, but the days of mass manufacture are long gone.

Hats Back in Fashion!
Situated in Wellington Mill, Stockport Hat Works is the only museum in the UK devoted to the hatting industry. The factory was constructed in 1830 by Thomas Marsland, a wealthy calico printing manufacturer from the local area. In 1895 the building was purchased by the Ward Brothers, hatting specialists focusing on the finishing and trimming of various headgears.

Keep a look out for guides coming soon which we are currently producing on how best to use the resources and undertake research at Tameside Local Studies and Archives. Our website has links to our on-line catalogue and our image archive.  You can get in touch with us by email localstudies.library@tameside.gov.uk.

By Sue Essex Assistant Local Studies Librarian