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Just Catalogued July 2024

Posted in Behind the Scenes on 02 Jul 2024

Bracknell: a New Town for Berkshire

Drawing of a proposed bandstand, Bracknell 1964 ref. NT/B/G4/133/2

We are delighted to report that we have completed work on the archive of Braknell Development Corporation, 1946-1982 (NT/B). Bracknell New Town was one of eight New Towns across the country designated in 1949 to provide overflow housing from London. The project was managed until 1982 by the central government-appointed Bracknell Development Corporation rather than the existing Local AuthoritiesThe whole town was designed from scratch, including public and private housing, industrial and commercial premises, leisure facilities, schools, medical centres, roads and other infrastructure, and green spaces.

Large plan for proposed nursery, Bracknell 1964 ref. NT/B/G4/133/2

The bulk of the archive comprises thousands of plans and contracts, but also includes administrative and publicity material, papers relating to the acquisition of the land from a multitude of individual owners and various Public Inquiries, and photographs of existing historic buildings within the development area, some of which were then demolished. It was catalogued as part of the nationally funded New Jerusalems project for all the New Towns.

Reading Quakers

Cartoon by C D Micklewright of ‘The C.O. in Prison’, 1917 ref. DF3/5

We are pleased to have completed work on a large addition to the records of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, 1722-2010, mainly relating to Reading (D/F). The new records include material relating to conscientious objection during the two World Wars including the above 1917 cartoon by C D Micklewright entitled ‘The C.O. in Prison’. There are also nineteenth century plans of the burial ground.

Music, dance and drama in the archives

Reading Historical Pageant album cover showing a man on horseback and a group of people in the foreground1920 ref. D/EX2986/1/1/1

We were thrilled to receive a delightful photograph album of the Reading Historical Pageant, performed in the Abbey ruins in 1920 (D/EX2986). Wokingham Theatre has added material to its extensive archive here, 1968-2023 (D/EX2083). We have received some photographs and programmes of the Central Drama Club in Reading, which was part of the Girls’ Club mentioned in our popular June 2023 highlight; available to read online (D/EX2926).

Poster for Gaslight and Garters at Wokingham Theatre, 1991 ref. D/EX2083/2/2/19

We have been given a single programme for a production at the Palace Theatre, Reading, in 1958 (D/EX2949). The revue, untitled in the programme itself, was discovered by staff to be The Latin Quarter Show, which aimed to give 'an impression of Parisian night life', including acrobats, comedy, singers, music and dance. We have also received programmes for performances for All Saints Operatic Society, Reading, 1947-1948 (D/EX2937); and the Sainsbury Singers 50th anniversary commemorative souvenir and programme, 1988 (D/EX2940).

Large hall with people sat at tables under a bright and colourful ceiling decor, ref. D/EX2922

Also now available are the papers of Reading entrepreneur and organiser of dance music events ‘Temple Tim’ Carroll, 1980s-2000s (D/EX2922). Whilst these were being catalogued, they formed the subject of our August 2023 highlight which you can read on our website.

Fitting shops and ships

A man cleaning a large door, ref. D/EX1263/8A/106

Samuel Elliott and Sons (Reading) Ltd is one of the town’s iconic businesses, and we have now catalogued a large number of photographs showing their work from the 1930s to 1988, which have been added to their archive here (D/EX1263). The Caversham-based firm did carpentry and shop-fitting, and their work included church pews, cruise ship interiors, work on luxury cars, and buildings across the country including shops, schools and colleges, banks, and hotels. One high-profile international commission was for the doors of the now-lost Iraqi parliament building in Baghdad in 1958. During the Second World War the firm even constructed dummy aircraft to act as decoys to fool Nazi bombers.

Doomed to failure

Comrades of the Great War card, c.1917-1921, ref. D/EX1839/5/2/5

A small amount of ephemeral printed material collected by Admiral John Bridges Eustace (1861-1947) has now been listed (D/EX1839). It includes a National Trust appeal for donations towards the placing of a monolith with a direction dial at Finchampstead Ridges, 1929; Wokingham Borough bye-laws, 1897-1908; ephemera from the Comrades of the Great War, c.1917-1921; an advertisement for a debate at Wokingham Town Hall in 1927to discuss the sadly prescient motion "that in the light of past history the League of Nations is inevitably doomed to failure"; and annual reports of the Berkshire branch of the British Red Cross, 1919-1923. There is also an advertisement for the World Service Exhibition in Reading Town Hall, in February 1921. This showcased missionary work at home and abroad, and Christian service in education, the alleviation of suffering, industry and social welfare, and included tableaux vivants and lectures.

On the road again

We have been given a set of Translines, 1995-2023, the magazine of Newbury and District Transport Group (D/EX2951)Most of these are hard copies but the 2023 editions are digital-only and can be viewed on our online digital repository. Other printed miscellanea include a copy of the 1728 Reading-Puntfield turnpike act (D/EX2890).

You can find out more about these records by searching our online catalogue. Simply enter the collection references given above in the Catalogue Reference field.