Monthly Archives: March 2015

Banking on Success

A return to a banking theme for this week’s blog page from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil, Somerset…..

….and possibly our first mystery object to be appear in our ‘pages’.

One of our volunteers is currently helping us with an audit of our environmentally controlled store. This involves checking each item on the shelves for its accession number and recording the current location. Any item without an accession number is also noted to check for any further details or provenence. This is an important role, to ascertain what we have and why and where it is, to cross reference against our database of items and photographs.

During this process, our volunteer discovered a notable object which they brought out to show the team. This highlighted the significance of accurate documentation, when an object is first donated; if indeed the donor knows themselves!

The object in question is a wooden tray with possibly silver wire on the bottom, which reads: “Yeovil Bank Somersetshire” written backwards, in two separate panels. This clearly looks to be for embossing. However, on the inside are a series of wooden partitions or dividers, which clearly have the remains of something in the bottom of the tray. Interestingly, another of our volunteers pointed out that the metal frame around the edge of the bottom is ‘proud’ of the letters in probable silver wire, resulting in a very light impression left by the embossed words.

Therefore, we wondered if this was a seed tray or riddle for seiving of soil made out of the banking tray; although the mesh is very fine indeed, if this is the case. Or, more simply, if the tray held different types of coinage used in the bank. However, this was an accessioned item, with a fairly recent accession number; certainly one that should be on our database. Doing the ‘cross check’ proved interesting. The resulting ‘brief description’ read: “possibly for embossing.”

Therefore, we thought this would be an interesting one for our Blog page, to not only show another facet of life at CHAC, but also “banking on a successful” outcome that someone will recognise the object, have more information and explain its purpose.

Coming up next time – enjoyable family history gloving-related research visit.

The Banking Tray inside – and out – any information gratefully received.

Yeovil Bank TrayYeovil Bank Tray (5) Yeovil Bank Tray (4) Yeovil Bank Tray (3)

To a different beat

Another busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, Lufton, near Yeovil, including a very helpful work experience student from a local school; photo afternoon and other visits and donations of objects and documents.

One of our more challenging recent donations was what is believed to be a bass drum from South Petherton Brass Band. This is an intriguing and sizable object.

Interestingly, the drum initially appeared heavier than it actually was; mainly because the central drum stands around 600mm (2feet) high and well over 3ft (900mm) in diameter. However, the drum came in three parts with the main centre; skins and surrounding bands. As the main drum was hollow, it turned out to be light and portable, but it did present significant factors in terms of storage and more immediately, conservation.

The drum itself is highly decorated, most of which can be still seen and dates we believe to at least the early years of the 20th Century. Therefore, with an object over 100 years old and made of wood, there will be certain points to address. This was the case, with evidence of wood worm and previous storage in a covered environment, but subject to damp with inevitable fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity.

Following professional conservation advice, we wrapped the drum in acid free tissue and Tyvec. This was where the circular nature of the object came in useful as we were able to roll the drum up in the protective material. We did each in turn and tied with conservation ties (rather than masking tape). The fundamental piece of advice was after wrapping. to place the drum, skins and braces together in our outer area and let them acclimatise to a new, drier environment. Drying too quickly, could cause splitting. After a few weeks of slowly drying, we aim to clean the wood with a soft brush and adjustable suction vacuum.

This was certainly an interesting assignment, as we were learning as we were going along, but also following advice to help preserve a significant part of South Somerset social history – which with the acclimatisation, is getting used to a different beat.

Next time on the CHAC Blog! “Mystery Bank Tray found during Store Audit” “Exciting donation of Aplin and Barrett St Ivel documents and photographs” All stories for next time.

The highly decorative nature of the South Petherton Brass Band Drum is still evident.

South P Drum (2)    South P Drum

Quirk of Fate

We have enjoyed another busy week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre. One of the highlights was a visit by two Bristol-based fashion entrepreneurs. They currently produce a wrist warmer made of performance fleece but wanted to move into the production of fabric gloves.

They had been recommended to visit by the Museum of Costume at Bath, which underlines the significance of the gloving collection stored and cared for at CHAC.

We toured them around the premises and showed them the many tools used to make gloves in Yeovil. This also helped to provide the background for what was once    Yeovil’s main industry up until the mid 1960s.

They were very interested in the many designs of glove we had available. This was illustrated by the gloves themselves, with a particular interest in the fingerless variety. One notable example, were the fingerless gloves used by Ann Daniels who was one of a five women team to reach both North and South poles, and was also living in Yeovil at this time.

They were also keen to see the glove sketches and the gloving donkeys, which ignited some ideas in their heads. The gloving donkeys, which were very well behaved, were used to hold the glove as you stitched it. The clamp would hold it in place and the serrated edges would allow you to pass through your needle and keep even stitches going along.

The designers were also keen to learn the terms for the parts that go into a glove – hence the reason for our title – a quirk – being a small diamond-shaped piece of leather which goes at the base of each finger.

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CHAC is quite a Find!

Another busy week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre (CHAC) with donations, enquiries and preparations for our Westland 100 exhibition.

We also held our quarterly ‘Archaeological Finds Afternoon’ with the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer on Wednesday 4th March between 2pm-4pm . The idea is for finders in the South Somerset Area to meet with the ‘FLO’ to have their finds identified and the provenence recorded with CHAC serving as a mid-way meeting point. The key date is pre-1700, but advice can be provided on most eras of production or manufacture and this service is part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The first afternoon of 2015 was notably productive with pottery from Wincanton and regular finds discovered near Crewkerne. One of our volunteers brought along a ‘Schoolboy’s Collection of Treasures” which yielded two Roman coins.

Interestingly, we only had three visitors. However, with at least 20 items each and all requiring contextual information, the ‘Finds Afternoon’ two hours was only just enough.

The next CHAC Finds Afternoon is due to be Wednesday 3rd June 2015 – 2pm-4pm. Please call (01935) 462886 to arrange a 20 minute slot.

There is usually a Finds Liaison Officer in most counties of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For more details visit: http://www.finds.org.uk

Somerset Finds Liaison Officer, Laura Burnett with one of our CHAC Volunteers, helping to identify seals and Roman coins.

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Leslie in the frame

So far this week we have enjoyed a busy time at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil and made an intriguing discovery in our environmentally controlled store.

A number of visitors have responded to our requests for photographs and objects of Westland Helicopters, particularly around the First World War Period and we have accessioned a notable selection of objects and photographs.

The discovery came in a week where two other significant objects were found in stores with an edition of the Magna Carta from 1300 in Maidstone Archives (but belonging to the town of Sandwich) and a marine dinosaur in Plymouth Museum, originally thought to be a plaster cast.

Our discovery was a series of pen and ink drawings by Leslie Brooke, Yeovil Historian and Graphic Designer at the Western Gazette.

Leslie Brooke was born in Taunton and served in the Royal Artillery and the Indian Army Airborne Division. He worked for the Western Gazette until his retirement as its first First Graphic Designer in 1979. Leslie was a well known lecturer on Yeovil’s past and wrote Somerset Newspapers 1725-1960 and his “Book of Yeovil” published in 1978, the first modern, illustrated history of the town, which achieved a second edition two years later.

Leslie and his wife, Marjorie were both keen artists. Leslie passed away in 2003 and Marjorie around 5 years later.

We thought we knew the extent of Leslie’s skills, until we found a series of mounted pen and ink drawings of well-known Yeovil Buildings with connections to local people. The drawings themselves are enhanced by a detailed annotated caption, which includes a small street map showing the location of the building in relation to other streets and historical detail related to the owner and whether the building was demolished. On the reverse is a larger map illustrating the location of the building.

Finding the drawings emphasised the importance of accurate documentation to not only locate the items, but also so they can be found again and provide yet another source to assist with enquiries. Fundamentally, accuracy of detail and how an object is described is of paramount importance – one wonders how the 1300 Edition of the Magna Carta was recorded – ‘document’ perhaps!

Gratitude to “Yesterday’s Yeovil : A Sketchbook” by Leslie Brooke (Barracuda Books) 1989 for biographical detail and image of the Author.

Leslie Brooke working on one of his pen and ink drawings (From “Yesterday’s Yeovil”) and Dr Flower’s House in Hendford, Yeovil with the detailed caption.

L Brooke Book of Yeovil796 L Brooke Dr Flowers House Hendford Caption798  L Brooke Dr Flowers House Hendford797