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Plans for a new home for The British Postal Museum & Archive

banner1 Plans for a new home for The British Postal Museum & Archive

The new Postal Museum will provide access to the BPMA’s unique collections of 400 years of postal, social and design history, including photographs, posters, vehicles, pillar boxes, employment records of millions of people and a world-class stamp collection.

Under a plan endorsed by the Government, the new centre will be established at Calthorpe House, on London’s Mount Pleasant site, where the country’s oldest mail centre is located. It is close to the existing home of the BPMA at Freeling House, which has very limited space for exhibitions and displays.

Royal Mail Group will grant a lease of 999 years for Calthorpe House, a property which will provide a secure foundation for the BPMA once redeveloped and extended. Agreements have been signed with Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd for a £6m long term, low interest loan to fund the conversion of Calthorpe House to meet the basic needs of the organisation. In addition, Royal Mail and POL are providing other support, including a £500,000 grant.

A fundraising campaign by the BPMA will be launched shortly to raise the remaining funds required to create a state of the art museum and visitor facility. The BPMA is an independent charity set up in 2004 to care for two significant collections: The Royal Mail Archive and the collections of the former National Postal Museum. It is the BPMA’s mission to increase public access to these collections, making the story they tell of communication, industry and innovation accessible to everyone.

The new centre will allow the BPMA to exhibit objects from its fascinating museum collection, which is currently held in storage. It will also include educational facilities for visiting schools

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Revised opening hours for London Metropolitan Archives

LMA1 Revised opening hours for London Metropolitan ArchivesFamily History News

 

From Monday 14 November 2011 there will be changes to weekday openings at LMA.

imagesCA75ZAAB Revised opening hours for London Metropolitan Archives

 

LMA will close on Fridays, but there will be an extra late night opening on Wednesdays (as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays) until 7.30 pm.

 

 

 

The new opening times are:-

Monday  9:30am – 4:45pm
Tuesday 9:30am – 7:30pm
Wednesday       9:30am – 7:30pm
Thursday        9:30am – 7:30pm
Friday CLOSED

For Saturday openings  and information about visiting the London Metropolitan Archives

please check the LMA website

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London Metropolitan Archives invited representatives of the London genealogy community to attend its first Family History Forum at the archive on 20 April 2011. This was attended by the Genealogist from the Society of Genealogists, and representatives from the Federation of Family History Societies, North West Kent FHS, London, Westminster and Middlesex FHS, East Surrey FHS, and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. The meeting was chaired by Deborah Jenkins (Assistant Director: Heritage).  Society of Genealogists report on London Metropolitan Archives Family History Forum

A lot has happened in the London archive community recently with the Guildhall Library, Archives and Art Gallery having been amalgamated with the London Metropolitan Archives bringing effective control of 3 services under the Corporation of London. The recent partnership with Ancestry.co.uk to digitise records sets of genealogical, social and local significance has very much changed the nature of the service provided by the archives. The forum was called to update the family history community on issues affecting LMA.

CUTS

Sadly, though perhaps inevitably in the current climate, the first item on the agenda was a statement by David Pearson (Director: Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery Department) about the requirement for the department to make savings of 15.9% in its budget for 2011-12. Having been consulting users via the LMA website and drop in meetings since March the department is now pretty much ready to decide how it will make these savings. Yes it will mean reduced opening hours, fewer Saturday openings and compulsory redundancies amongst the staff.

As this procedure is still in process we have no news yet of how much expertise or resource will be lost from the archive and this must clearly be unsettling for staff. The new online catalogue has meant a 30% increase in the number of document ordered and delivered at the archive (some76,000 over the year with nearly 90% of them delivered within 20 minutes). There were 29,000 visitors – all be it 6% drop on the previous year. It will be interesting to see how after the cuts LMA can continue to provide services to such numbers or continue to receive the high satisfaction feed back it currently receives via user surveys or its leading 4* position under TNA’s archive assessment scheme.

Essentially LMA will close on Fridays and will be open only one Saturday a month. This will take place from November after the stock taking week, having given a suitable period for notice etc for staff. To compensate in some way for this LMA will be introducing longer opening hours on Wednesdays making late night opening to 7.30pm on Tuesday -Thursdays. A significant number of people had asked LMA not to close on the same day as other major repositories. (Both TNA and SoG are closed on Mondays) making it possible to do some research at least in London on this day. The number of researchers on Saturdays has been falling dramatically and it will be reviewed in a year whether to continue to open on Saturday. So this means if you want LMA to remain open on Saturdays it’s a case of use it or lose it.


DIGITISATION

Charlotte Shaw (Head of Collections and Systems) provided an overview on the last two years partnership with Ancestry.co.uk to digitise and make available significant LMA collections. Phase one of the project is progressing steadily with C of E parish registers, Board of Guardian Records, School and Nonconformist registers having come on stream. In the next few months the diocesan wills formerly held in LMA and Guildhall will be online and indexed with electoral registers up to 1965 and City of London Freedom records to follow.

Stage two of the project is seeing negotiations with the various city livery companies to allow the deposited records from the Guildhall to be digitised and made available. This will not include those livery company records retained by the companies themselves. 2012 will see the inclusion of the City & Tower Hamlets Cemetery records and some Session Records.

Questions were raised about omissions in the digitised records and misattributions. It was made clear that some older films NOT created by LMA itself were OMMITTED from the Ancestry project as they were not of suitable quality. Also films were digitised only when LMA had copies of the original records and permission from the authorities for their use. LMA seemed unaware of the problems of the mis-attribution of some of the sources supposedly included by Ancestry.co.uk. The SoG Genealogist promised to provide a link to some comments on this information.

Miriam Silverman (Ancestry: UK Content Manager) followed up with more information about the future projects. Ancestry’s scanners continue to process records at LMA. They are currently working on the Guildhall and LMA Collections of Poll Books and the Overseas Returns. The London wills number nearer 400,000 which a much larger number than had initially been thought to exist. A broader spectrum of records will include parish confirmations, Middlesex transported convict records, Surrey Marriage Bonds and Allegations, London Land Tax and London Poll books though they will also be including the Guildhall’s copies of poll books for places outside London. It is hoped that most of the records will be indexed with a pilot of the early poor law records under way through Ancestry’s World Archives Projects that allows volunteers at home to index images of the records made available to the community.

There was discussion about the updating and improvements made to any mistakes or omissions in the indexing or transcription of records. Work is being done to identify and amend any problems across collections in addition to using the correction and amendment procedures already made available to users of the Ancestry site. Essentially any one who has discovered errors and problems should let LMA and Ancestry know about it.

NEW ACCESSIONS

Nicola Avery (Principal Archivist, Archives Systems) provided a list of some of the new accessions recently acquired by LMA. Some of which were made available to view in the conservation room after the meeting. These include records for several churches and religious institutions, a copy of a missing interment register for Darenth Assylum and an accumulated register of the City of London School 19000-1920. LMA is currently negotiating the deposit of the registers of All Hallows Barking by the Tower – one of the last 2 city parishes to deposit its records.

PUBLIC ROOMS

In addition to some of the statistics mentioned above Tim Harris (Head of Access and Buildings) reported on issues relating to the physical care of the building. One significant point to note is that a service lift is to be refurbished between November and December which will affect the production of records. If anything it might be better to avoid making a visit in this period and certainly give lots of notice using the advanced ordering facility on the online catalogue. One interesting point to note from the results of the user survey is that for the first time the percentage of users reporting their interest as genealogical was down to 60% with 40% saying they had other reasons for using the record office.

The next meeting of the LMA User forum will be in September. In the meantime anyone interested in receiving information about new and events from LMA can sign up for the electronic newsletter

The National Archives Announces Catalogue and Documents Online Updates

Updates from TNA

For those who couldn’t attend the recent (and excellent) Catalogue Awareness Day, The National Archives has announced the completion of various cataloguing projects and gives some information on various new and ongoing projects on it website.

Details of some of the completed cataloguing projects including the addition of the surnames of the parties in C11 Chancery Pleadings 1714-1758 or the conversion of many of the old supplementary finding aids can be found on the catalogue projects pages of TNA’s website .

TNA has some interesting projects on the go including the cataloguing of some of the  MH 12 Poor Law Unions Correspondence with the Poor Law Commissioners and the cataloguing of Royal Navy Medical Officers Journals. See TNA’s website for details.

Also of note are the new additions to  TNA’s DocumentsOnline  service of  the Royal Navy logs of ships on exploration.  There are 164 volumes of logbooks of the Royal Navy’s voyages of scientific discovery, from series ADM 55, now available to search and download.

The Pacific, the Arctic, Australia and beyond.
Mostly kept by naval captains, masters, lieutenants and masters’ mates, these volumes offer a first-hand account of the day-to-day activities of the exploration party, giving a picture of life aboard ship. The information in the logs and journals was used by the Hydrographic Office to produce charts and other data.

Many famous officers kept logs held in this collection, including James Cook, William Bligh and Matthew Flinders. Covering numerous areas across the globe, the records were made between 1757 and 1861, except those of the ‘Morning’, which were made in 1904.

Climate change research
The logs also include scientific information gathered during a voyage and detailed daily accounts of the weather they encountered.  The meteorological observations in these logbooks have become a very valuable source of climatic information for scientists today and have therefore been digitised as part of the UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy Logbooks (CORRAL) project, funded by the Joint Information System Committee (JISC).

It usally costs £2.00 to download a log book or journal from DocumentsOnline, at home but you can download the index of ships within catalogue reference ADM 55 free of charge. Documents online can of course be searched free of charge at TNA, Kew or in the Society of Genealogists’ Library.

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Some Gretna Green Marriages Online at Ancestry and Free at SoG

Ancestry.co.uk has launched online the largest single collection of records of some 10,000 marriages which took place at Gretna Green in the 18th and 19th centuries. These Gretna Green Marriage Registers, 1795-1895 detail the weddings of more than half of all those who crossed the Scottish border so that they could marry without their parents’ consent. Access to these records on the Ancestry.co.uk database is free at the Society of Genealogists’ Library.

Each record details the full names of both husband and wife, their respective locations of residence, and the date of their wedding. The original collection, also referred to as the ‘Lang Registers’ were purchased by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies some years ago. They contains the marriage records of Gretna Green’s most prolific minster, David Lang, who was renowned for his ‘immodest air’ and clerical style.

Gretna Green became a popular destination for young English elopers after Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, passed in 1753, required parental permission for all couples wanting to marry under the age of 21. This law did not apply in Scotland where boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12. A free infomation leaflet about these Irregular Border Marriages and where other records might be found is available from the General Register Office for Scotland. Some transcripts of other registers are held in the Society’s library.

A mile inside the Scottish border, Gretna Green was the first changing post in Scotland for the stagecoaches on the main route from London to Edinburgh. It was also the first place couples arrived at when eloping to Scotland, resulting in thousands of weddings taking place in what quickly became known as Britain’s ‘marriage capital’.

Almost anybody could conduct a marriage ceremony in Scotland as long as two witnesses were present. This resulted in a range of tradesmen, including many blacksmiths given that Gretna Green was a changing post, setting themselves up as ‘ministers’ and charging for their services.

Dubbed ‘Anvil Priests’ by the locals, ceremonies were often conducted over the anvil with the blacksmith officiating, which was why the blacksmith and his anvil have come to symbolise Gretna Green weddings.

In order to restrict the rising number of couples eloping to Gretna, Parliament passed an act in 1857 that required for one of the parties to have resided in Scotland for a minimum of three weeks prior to the wedding for the marriage to be recognised in England.

Gretna Green marriage rates were never quite the same thereafter yet its reputation as the ‘Las Vegas of the UK’ remained and lives on today.

Gretna Green wedding scandals have made newspaper headlines since the mid 1700s. Among the records are a number of notable people and famous nuptials, including:

The Shrigley Abduction – A national scandal in 1826, Edward Wakefield duped wealthy 15-year-old heiress Ellen Turner into marriage at Gretna Green by claiming her father, a wealthy mill owner and Sheriff of Cheshire, was a fugitive and if she would agree to marry Wakefield, her father would be saved. Ellen consented and they were married on the 8th of March 1826 by blacksmith David Lang. Gretna Green Lang Register Shrigley Abduction 245x300 Some Gretna Green Marriages Online at Ancestry and Free at SoG

John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham – The marriage of the British Governor General and High Commissioner of British North America known as ‘Radical Jack’ to Lady Louisa Grey is recorded in 1816. Also a British Whig statesman and colonial administrator, Lambton was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1837 for his political work at home and abroad.

The Gretna Green Marriage Registers, 1795-1895 were transcribed as part of the Ancestry World Archives Project, which provides the public with indexing software and training support to enable them to contribute in making even more historical records available and searchable online. To date, thousands of Britons have contributed their time to this project. As the original marriage certificates which comprise this collection were badly age damaged, Ancestry experts also spent many months conserving them before they were digitized.

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