WLHF Society News

westbury newsletternewsletter autumn 2018 pdf (2)-2

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The Joy of Ephemera

I and two colleagues from the History Centre and Salisbury Library were lucky enough to pay a visit to the welcoming staff and volunteers at the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading https://www.reading.ac.uk/typography/research/typ-researchcentres.aspx recently. I’d like to help spread the word about this wonderful collection!

Housed in the Typography and Communications department, the Centre originated with the work of Maurice Rickards, a great collector of ephemeral material until his death in 1998. Maurice was determined to demonstrate the diversity of ephemera and its potential for study. He collected 20,000 items for use by researchers and students at the University. The Centre was inaugurated by Lord Briggs in May 1993. Asa Briggs, the distinguished social and cultural historian, had long been an advocate of the study of ephemera and agreed to become the Centre’s first Patron.

Our visit began, perhaps as it should, at the very beginning of the printing process, viewing the department’s current exhibition on the history of printing including its very own replica handmade traditional wooden printing press similar to the one that was used in Europe by Gutenberg in the 15th century, built by a researcher. Experiments had been done using this press with inks and paper to recreate a page from the early printed bible and other texts. We were also shown later letterpress, intaglio and lithography presses which the Typography and Communications students are allowed to use to great effect for their research projects. I can tell you that the smell from the ink and those metal machines was wonderful!

The printing press, a copy of experimental printing and metal presses

We moved on to meet the Centre’s Director Michael Twyman and long-term volunteer Amoret Tanner who talked us through the history of the collection, which has expanded massively since its early days; how the collection is managed and arranged. The material is sorted first before being categorised on ephemera database sheets and moved to its permanent housing in flat archival storage boxes. Items are grouped according to topic and are mounted on boards using archivally approved materials to protect them as they are often single bits of paper which can be quite fragile.

Grey sorting box and the flat boxes of the main ephemera collection

A thesaurus of ephemera types is used to ensure consistency, and the team are working with the Bodleian Library and European partners towards ensuring consistently over Europe in future years. The Centre proactively looks at current trends and new topics to add to the collection.

The collection is proving to be of huge value to students, researchers; even an interior designer has found a wealth of material as inspiration for their designs. English literature, history and social history are all represented here. The team at Reading are also involved with the Ephemera Society (www.ephemera-society.org.uk), internationally recognised as the leading authority in this field and concerned with the collection, conservation, study and educational use of printed and hand-written ephemera.


Contents of an ephemera box

Rickards himself noted that ephemera is ‘the minor transient documents of everyday life’. It is material that is often thought of as inconsequential, easily forgotten and thrown away, but in fact it can prove to be a fascinating source of treasures which help to chart the history of who we are. It is the aim of the Centre that visitors are able to feel at ease with the collection, to make a connection with the material of all shapes and sizes in order to bring history alive, as it most certainly did for us.

The sheer variety of items ranging from beer mats, dance cards and greetings cards, invitations, bills, letters, posters, public notices and even an envelope with a feather marking the advent of ‘express delivery’ was breathtaking. It was exciting and rewarding for us to have the opportunity to connect with others and share the joy and wonderment that is ephemera in all its glory. Many thanks go to Laura Weill the Assistant Curator for giving us the opportunity to visit and find out more. We will certainly be looking to expand our collections at The Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre and at Salisbury Library, and to show others just how fascinating they truly are! Why not pay us a visit to discover what your Wiltshire ephemera collection has to offer…

The Centre has an online exhibition showcasing the different types of ephemera at http://a-z-ephemera.org/

You can visit the Centre for Ephemera at Reading by appointment, contact ephemera@reading.ac.uk for further details.

Julie Davis
County Local Studies Librarian
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

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Secret Swindon

Secret Swindon by Angela Atkinson
Amberley Press, 2018
95 pages, includes bibliography, paperback
ISBN 9781445683386

The aim of this colourful publication is to prove that Swindon is so much more than you might think; a multi-layered, unique and vibrant town. As a reader you are invited to discover things you never knew, aided by ‘Did you Know’ fact boxes to guide the way.

secret swindon

The book begins with an interesting synopsis of the history of the town before the railway. The stories of Swindon’s major families, writers such as Richard Jefferies, Edith New, Swindon suffragette and houses now lost figure here, alongside secret locations and tips on how to while away a happy hour in the town on a historical theme.

Travel back with the GWR and the amazing feats of its employees to create a healthcare system and some wonderful works of culture; also included are the origins of the Mechanics Institute and Swindon’s aviation history for good measure. Modern Swindon is not overlooked, with architecture, the magic roundabout and the strength of today’s cultural activities being investigated.

Angela’s style is witty, snappy and easy to read, weaving information with a conversational tone reminiscent of her origins as a successful blogger.

The content is a lovely mix of old and new on a multitude of topics that goes to the heart of the character of the town. The images reflect the content and complement the text well.

The aim of the book has indeed been met. It will prove an eclectic revelation to both Swindonians and non-Swindonians alike.

Julie Davis
County Local Studies Librarian

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

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Wiltshire Project

You can take part in Ted Homer’s Arts Council/HLF project to discover more about heritage and tradition in Wiltshire. Visit Ted’s website to find out more.

Wiltshire project


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WWI Belgian Refugees

Are you interested in the history of Belgian refugees in the UK during the First World War? Have you been involved in researching them in your local area? Maybe you have a family story that you’d like to share? If so, the ‘Tracing the Belgian Refugees’ project would love to hear from you.


The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and run by colleagues at the Universities of Leeds, Antwerp and UCL. In Autumn 2018 they are launching an online database with which we will be able to trace and record Belgian refugees who came to the UK in order to improve our knowledge and understanding of their experiences and legacies.

The database will be open access and populated via crowd-sourcing. This means that those who have found information on a Belgian refugee will be able to enter this information into the database themselves. To find out more, visit their website get in touch via email belgianrefugees@leeds.ac.uk, or follow them on Twitter: @FWWBRefugees.

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Local Studies Looking for Help


Looking for advice or inspiration for your work? In recent years LSG has helped by organising training and propagating material through our journal, blog posts and tweets, but now we want to do more by putting together a local studies toolkit. Our aim is to…. To produce a freely accessible online resource that could guide […]

via We want to write a Local Studies Toolkit & we need your help. — Local Studies Group Blog

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Local Traditions at their Best – Beating the Bounds

via Beating the Bounds 2018

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Bratton Iron Works

P2494 - Bratton




Bratton History Association has just published an 80 page booklet entitled ‘Bratton Iron Works: An Illustrated Record’ describing the rise and fall over 160 years of the agricultural engineering firm of R & J Reeves & Son that was based in Bratton – on the prominent site that is now the village green.

The author, Dennis Gardner, has collected a great deal of information over the years since closure – photos, catalogues, leaflets, written documents and artefacts, as well as personal memories from some of the ex-employees still living nearby (mostly now passed on). The Bratton History Association encouraged Dennis to present a good deal of this material in written form, and this new publication, full of pictorial detail, is the result – a really good read, even for the non-technically minded!

Copies are available from Westbury Heritage Centre, Hillworth Stores (Bratton) or from the Association, at £9 each.

Bratton memorial

Bratton Iron Works Memorial

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History is Revealed at Bremhill

I had a room full of interested attendees for my first History Revealed day. For those of you who are familiar with our Interpretation courses at the History Centre, this is a variation on a theme. I would like to extend the scope of this type of event which to date has been reliant on […]

via History is Revealed… at Bremhill — Local Studies Group Blog

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Data Protection Regulations for Local History Groups

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR 2016) and the Data Protection Bill (2017)

Why GDPR and what does that mean?
• Why? Increasing volume of digital data and new ways of
processing it means greater risks of abuses of human rights
• GDPR = EU regulations about processing the “personal data of
natural persons” due to come in force 25 May 2018
• See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/dataprotection/reform/files/regulation_oj_en.pdf
• Good overviews: https://www.eugdpr.org/eugdpr.org.html +
• The regulations can be modified by individual EU members and UK
currently has a bill in parliament:

•‘Personal data’ means any information relating to an identifiable
individual – the definitions of sensitive personal data have been
widened to include genetic and biometric data
•‘natural person’ means anyone who can be identified by any
reasonable means (eg by name, identity number, geographical
location etc)
• We are assuming ‘natural person’ relates only to living
individuals as at present but there is a slight risk it could be
widened by Parliament – watch this space!

Principles – very similar to existing ones
under DP Act 1998
Personal data must be:
• Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner
• Collected for specified explicit and legitimate purposes and not
further processed in a manner which is incompatible with them
– further processing for archiving purposes in the public
interest, scientific or historical research purposes is
• Adequate, relevant and limited to what is required for the
purposes concerned
• Accurate and kept up to date (where necessary)

Personal data should be:
• Kept in a form where individuals can be identified no longer than
necessary (but may be kept longer for archiving or research
• Processed in a manner which is confidential, secure and avoids
accidental loss or theft – bodies holding personal data are
accountable for what happens to it
• Data subjects have a right to access their own data free of
charge and know why it is being processed

GDPR and children
• Children under age of 13 are not able to give consent for
• Children age 13-15 need parental consent as well as their own
• Children 16 and over can give consent

Key innovations
• Privacy impact assessments for new systems (eg a new
computer system) are now needed – systems should be
designed to minimise DP risks
• Publicize purposes for processing data (eg put a notice on your
website as to what you collect and why)
• Consent must be meaningful – need to explicitly opt in, and
must be able to leave mailing lists easily
• Right to be forgotten (but this doesn’t prevent archiving!)
• Tougher regime and higher fines for breaches (up to 4% of
global turnover or 20 m euros whichever is greater)
• Large organisations need a Data Protection Officer who can act
as whistle-blower – this won’t apply to local history groups

What does it mean for most groups?
• You will need to tell your members and anyone whose data you
hold what you are holding and why – a notice on your website
should be fine. Make sure any forms (inc online) used to gather
data include a data protection statement.
• If you get asked what you hold on a named individual you will
need to tell them but you only need to search computer
databases – you don’t need to worry about manual records
(public authorities are different – we do)
• You have an exemption from the need to rectify, delete or erase
data under the purposes of “processing for archiving purposes
and for scientific or historical research and statistical
purposes” – this applies to data you may have collected for that
purpose, not your own membership data

If you buy a new computer system to hold personal data you
need to carry out a data protection impact assessment

The good news!
• Don’t be scared of GDPR!
• The ICO is keen for ‘business as usual’ – reform rather than
• Further, more detailed guidance for archive services will be
coming from TNA once the bill has become law – at present this
is all subject to change… we will pass on details if they are
relevant but the ICO website can help in the meantime

Claire Skinner

Principal Archivist, Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

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