Tag Archives: archives

Industrial heritage month: urban housing

A blog post by Emma Smith, history student and Special Collections volunteer.

In light of our focus on Urban Environment as part of the 2018 Industrial Heritage theme months, we have delved into our records here at Brunel Special Collections in pursuit of details about urban housing. One common theme present throughout the majority of records is the sheer variation in accommodation: the juxtaposition of the slums and poor institutions of the penniless, and the mansions and townhouses of the affluent, accentuates the considerable difference in housing within urban localities.

Mckenzie slum to mansion

‘It was a complete transition from slum to mansion’ – extract from McKenzie 1:473

James McKenzie’s account emphasises the stark contrast between deprived and luxurious dwellings within urban London (an extract of which is shown above). McKenzie details his childhood experiences of the slum housing of Battersea adjacent to a river ‘poisoned with waste’ from surrounding factories; undoubtedly symbolising his housing conditions. Due to orphan-hood, however, McKenzie soon finds himself residing in a ‘rather weird old mansion’ in Kensington, only a stone’s throw away over the old Battersea Bridge. With its ornamental gates, fashionable Victorian drawing room and antique paintings, such a mansion was a world apart from the destitute Battersea slums, despite its geographical closeness.

Castle goal

‘More like a goal than anything I could imagine’ – extract from Castle 1:134

John Castle also illuminates another prevalent type of urban housing: the workhouse. Castle certainly harboured strong opinions toward Leighton Buzzard Union workhouse as an abode, as shown above. By producing a detailed structural plan of the workhouse, including the location of the Master’s House, Board Room and segregated living quarters of men, women and children, Castle’s memoir provides a personalised vision into the construction of one of the most recurrent, yet often ill-defined, urban living abodes throughout Britain. Emphasis on the presence of factory equipment within the institution arguably highlights the industrial nature of nineteenth-century housing and living areas.

Balne Greenford

‘Lovely leafy lanes of Greenford’ – extract from Balne 1:137

Similarly, Edward Balne provides insight into another, relatively rare, category of urban housing. Residing in a Hanwell ‘Cuckoo School’ (a Poor Law School, officially!), Balne emphasises the juxtaposition between the urbanity of this institution and adjacent ‘lovely leafy lanes of Greenford;’ highlighting the presence of both rural and industrial influences in urban living quarters. Though inferring that the School was superior in comparison to other housing, citing its swimming bath, onsite hospital and ‘large and lovely garden;’ Balne contends that it was still ‘pretty grim.’ While pupils were cramped into dormitories (ten allocated to each side of a room and another ten to the centre), their designated dormitory nurses enjoyed private ‘comfortably furnished’ cubicles. Any luxury in urban living, again, seemed to remain in the hands of those more well-off.

You can see any of these autobiographies or our other collections by contacting Special Collections to arrange an appointment

Burnett Archive
1:473 J. H. McKenzie
1:134 J. Castle
1:37 E. Balne

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Round up: #ExploreArchives Week 2017

We hope you’ve enjoyed sharing #ExploreArchives week with us this year. We’ve had lots of fun finding images of our collections to share. Do follow us on Twitter and Instagram as well as this blog to see more of our collections.

Train tickets

We hope you’ve had a good week with #explorearchives. Don’t stop exploring! Archives are tickets to the unknown.

Bendy and engine driver book

Bendy Brunel’s childhood reading from our Transport History Collection

Hand drawn map

An amazing hand drawn route map of a railway line complete with points & signals that we’ve found exploring the collection

Brunel and duck shelving

And so to bed. Tuckered out after a week of discovering Brunel Special Collections

#LoveArchives

Friday’s #ExploreArchives theme is #LoveArchives

Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day from Ladies Home Journal

Love on the underground

Love on the underground, from our Channel Tunnel collection

Cox 1-194 courtship

Ruth Cox was 19 in 1909 and courted a friend of her brother’s with her father’s consent (Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies 1:184)

 

Frisby 1-25- Valentine's day

Minnie Frisby describes Valentine’s Day in 1943 (Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies 1:250)

 

Gold 2-321 courtship

Olive Gold describes being courted by a Canadian Mormon, Billie, despite being a Methodist (Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiography 2:321)

 

Seymour 1-616 courtship

Arthur Seymour met his girlfriend, Ada, when he worked in a shop. She was only allowed to see him between 8 and 10pm.

#ArchiveScience

Thursday’s #ExploreArchives theme is #Archive Science

There are scientific reports and studies in our Channel Tunnel Association Archive, concerning the research that went on to make sure that building the tunnel was feasible.

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#HairyArchives

Wednesday’s #ExploreArchives theme is #HairyArchives!

 

Shampoo duck

Archives Duck wonders which of the 3 Breck shampoos from the Ladies’ Home Journal would best suit his new beard.

 

King Lear beard

Bendy Brunel comparing beards with King Lear. Happens everyday in the archives.

 

Tegetoff

Portrait from Illustrated London News from Sept 1866, of Vice-Admiral Tegetoff, commander of Austrian fleet.

#EdibleArchives

Tuesday’s #ExploreArchives theme is #EdibleArchives

This book is a register kept as part of the standard records at Padstow station in Cornwall, from 1921 to 1952. As the port at Padstow sent out a great deal of fish, the station had a separate fish loading platform. This was closed in 1950s as the trade in fish declined. This website gives more details on the freight trains, including the dedicated fish service running to Nine Elms. Many of the entries are for fish or other foodstuffs, but there is also an entry for a corpse, sent in December 1940 to Stepps in North Lanarkshire: perhaps a fallen soldier? Kept in the pages for 1940 is a loose memo, written in pencil and dated 20th September 1940, concerning a delayed delivery and noting that “during the current emergency” (that is, during World War Two, owing to the disruption to rail services) the special charges for fish sent to London Waterloo would also apply to fish sent to Paddington.

 

Peas LHJ

Peas, egg and ham salad from Ladies Home Journal 1953

Stuffed meat LHJ

Ration-stretching stuffed meats from Ladies Home Journal 1943

Festive recipes

Started Christmas baking yet? Here’s the header for some festive recipes, from the Dec 1942 Ladies’ Home Journal

Explore Special Collections

Explore Archives week is a national event to showcase and promote archives. Here in Special Collections we have a number of archival collections and we’d love to invite you to visit during our Explore Archives Week open afternoon and find out more about how you can use them. You’ll find us on Level 3 of the library, accessed by the main staircase/lift.

Monday 20th November 1 – 4 pm

We’ll have collections out themed around various subject areas. There will be collection items out on display for you to see and handle, plus plenty of opportunities to ask questions and find out more.

English/creative writing

anning-2jpg

Bill Griffiths collection

Come and discover more about our literature collections and how our collections have been used in creative writing. You can get a flavour of the collections on our Special Collections English guide. You can find out more about how these collections have been used by other students and academics in these blog posts: Writing back and Teaching from the archives.

History/politics

servicerecorddetail

Burnett Archive: William Belcher’s Royal Navy Service Certificate

Drop in to discover which Special Collections you might find useful for your assignments or dissertation. You’ll find more information in our Special Collections guides for History and Women’s history.

All very welcome.