ONE of the tasks the Record Office and Local Studies Library staff are involved with on an ongoing basis is sorting and re-packaging some of the collections which have been in the care of Cumbria Archive Service for a number of years.
That means getting rid of old rusting staples and paper clips and replacing them, if necessary, with brass clips which will not deteriorate so quickly or cause further damage to the already marked and sometimes friable paper and other materials.
We also replace old plastic and card wrap-arounds with acid-free archival-standard folders before placing everything in an archive box and putting it all back in the carefully monitored environment of the strongroom.
A collection which is being repackaged at present is Workington Borough Council’s surveyor’s department files. Correspondence to and from our local authorities in the 1950s and 60s may not always provide gripping reading, but these papers paint a clear picture of no-nonsense officers who didn’t tolerate poor workmanship or second-rate service to their councils, and insisted on value-for-money for local ratepayers.
Now and again there’s something which tickles the funny bone. The department was up-grading facilities in a local park to include a miniature golf course in the mid 1950s, and had ordered some putting-hole tins from a specialist company in Leicester. There were one or two problems and the file includes a letter from the sales manager of the company: “We have just been advised by the Borough of Bridlington that they have received 18 putting hole tins which they did not order and it would appear that labels have been mixed and they have had the hole tins which should have been sent to you. We are arranging to have these transferred.
“In the meantime, have you by any chance received 5,000 wooden golf tees? If so, these belong to the Borough of Bridlington…”
I still don’t know why this is so funny!
Your local Archive: Cumbria Record Office, Scotch St, Whitehaven, CA28 7NL. www.cumbria.gov.uk/archives gives further details and opening hours.
Published: September 15, 2010
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