Monthly Archives: January 2016

Mark of Respect

Today, 27th January 2016, marks National Holocaust Memorial Day and South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre has a display in Yeovil Town Library, King George Street side window.

This includes two main elements.

The first is three photographs donated to the Community Heritage Access Centre in Yeovil around ten years ago by the son of a local serviceman.

They were taken unofficially by the serviceman at Bergen Belsen and look fairly innocuous until you read the descriptions written on the back:

Hughie

Mac

Sammy

And a Polish Jew at a new grave.

Belsen Camp

April 1945

Intriguingly, the serviceman returned to Somerset after World War II and became a car salesman, but he wanted what he saw to be remembered.

The second element relates to the Kindertransport. 

The Kindertransport was a unique humanitarian programme from November 1938 to September 1939.  Around 10,000 children, the majority of whom were Jewish, were sent from their families in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to Great Britain.

After the Nazis came to power in 1933 the persecution of Jews began. This reached a pre-war peak with Kristallnacht (the Night of the Broken Glass) on 9/10 November 1938.  267 synagogues were destroyed, 100 people were killed, all remaining Jewish stores in the Reich were destroyed and almost 30,000 people were taken to concentration camps.

Sir Samuel Hoare, the Home Secretary, issued travel documents on the basis of group lists rather than individual applications.  Strict conditions were placed upon the entry of the children.

Jewish and non-Jewish agencies promised to fund the operation and to ensure that none of the refugees would become a financial burden on the public.  Every child would have a guarantee of £50 to finance his or her eventual re-emigration.

Alan Overton, of the Christadelphian Church in Birmingham made a further commitment. He made regular trips to London’s Liverpool Street Station to meet the boat train from Germany and to collect frightened and tearful children, some as young as three.

Several Church Members provided a room in their own homes and a special centre was also established named ‘Elpis Lodge.’ Around 250 children were saved in this way.

Heritage Staff interviewed Bruce Overton, (Alan Overton’s son) in 2001 as part of Masters of Arts Research. A copy of one of the letters sent to Alan Overton and images of children saved by his efforts are reproduced below.

Talbot Road

Winton

Bournemouth

7/5/39

Dear Brother Overton,

I heard your appeal on behalf of the German refugees after the meeting last night. You were so overwhelmed with enquiries that I did not try to speak to you personally, but came home and wrote this letter.

My wife and I would be pleased to give a home to one child either boy or girl that you think would be suitable.

We have been married four years and are without children so naturally a child as young as possible would be appreciated, but owing to the urgency of the situation, we would gladly take one child irrespective of age.

We are in the position to give it a good home and to maintain it properly, but unfortunately, we are unable to pay a deposit. Hoping that you will be able to utilise this offer, We remain your sincere Brother and Sister In Christ.

Bro & Sis G. Futcher.

Get Them Out Poster188

Overton saved Children185

Grown Up Overton saved Children187

 

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Guard and Guide

We have enjoyed another busy and thought-provoking week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

So far this week, our volunteers have helped us to document and accession new items and photographs into the main collection; photograph and re-pack the glove collection in new acid-free tissue and catch up on holidays!

One of our recent exciting experiences (among many!) came last Friday when we provided an illustrated talk to the Yeovil Trefoil Guild of former Girl Guides. In our preparation, a local student studying ‘Global Heritage’ helped us to find a wide variety of items, photographs and one specific item of costume. Firstly, this was extremely helpful and reassuring for staff, as every object we searched for on our database was found in the store, in the location listed! This was further evidence that we continue to fulfil this part of the Accreditation Standard gained in 2014.

Secondly, this was extremely fulfilling for our student as we went to the shelf or box and, like magic, the actual items were revealed. This was particularly so, when we discovered what a Guide or Ranger had to complete to achieve a specific badge; running 100 yards in 14 seconds for example, as part of the ‘Athlete’ Badge or ‘Being entertaining for 15 minutes and playing a banjo’ for the ‘Entertainers’ badge; the first half of which I was trying for!

We also suggested how forward thinking the guides were, as in the 1926 ‘list of badges’ there were badges for ‘Photography’ and for the oldest group ‘Rangers’ there was a ‘Motorist’ Badge, where young ladies had to ‘start; stop and change a flooded carburettor’ on a motor car.

We also compared and contrasted the 1926 and the 1946 badges – with the notable inclusion of an ‘Aircraft’ badge in the latter and the significant ‘July 1945 returned to London’ possibly indicating an evacuee. We completed the talk with an actual Girl Guides Uniform, which an email from the World Society of Guides and Scouts indicated dating from between 1921 and 1930 by the badges and provided a detailed description of each badge and therefore the wearer.

The talk was great for our student to see the fruition of all the work put in at CHAC actually demonstrated and enjoyed by the Trefoil Guild Members; especially as we linked Girl Guides to the changing perception of ladies’ roles in the First World War and how this helped to break down barriers in society. A real highlight was a 1950’s account book for the Yeovil Girl Guides and a list of girl’s names at the top – and a lady came up to us afterwards, pointed at one name and confirmed ‘that’s me!’

Our Yeovil College Students also enjoyed their weekly visit, helping us to check the environmental conditions in our stores, by downloading the information from the dataloggers.

Our bi-monthly Archaeological Finds Afternoon also yielded a selection of notable finds including Roman coins and a ‘locally specific’ design of Roman ‘clothes broach.’

We also think of National Holocaust Memorial Day, which is held next Wednesday 27th January 2016 and our Yeovil Library Display on this theme is proving popular.

Girl Guides Athletes235

The 1926 Girl Guide Rule Book ‘Athlete’ Badge – anyone for a 100 yard dash?!

We have also received this mystery ‘marker’ – originally thought to be a car park marker, or railway marker – or perhaps even something to do with ‘Petters’? Please let us know!

DSCN0312

 

 

 

Our most loyal fan

We have enjoyed a busy and far-reaching week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

So far, the historical maps from the collection digitised for the ‘Know Your Place’ Project have returned to us in conservation sleeves. This makes them simpler to store and a lot lighter to lift, now removed from their Perspex and board backing. Staff also travelled to Exeter, Devon for an “Introduction to Documentation” Course in the top floor of the Phoenix Centre. This was a fascinating reminder and update for the 15 candidates present; especially as the Course Leader had documented and accessioned the Flying Scotsman!

We have also created our January Yeovil Library Window on the theme of National Holocaust Memorial Day, which is the 27th January 2016.

One of our main conservation tasks this week is to check and re-pack a significant collection of fans. This is a notable reminder to us that with preparing for enquiries, completing grant funding applications and conducting guiding tours, we spend only a precious degree of time checking on the condition and provenance of objects and therefore re-discover some amazing ‘gems.’

In the case of the fans, we checked through accession numbers on our MODES database to see how much detail was recorded and to confirm the materials in each object. This latter point was significant as many of the fans are made of ivory and as we cannot prove this dates before 1945, have to store them separately. There were also fans made with sea shell and even paper fans hand written with instructions for a dance!

One of the highlights of our search was a decorative fan donated by Henry Stiby. Henry Stiby was born in Sherborne and formed an ironmongery business in partnership with Mr Denner (of Denners Department Store fame) was a keen photographer and Sunday School Leader and Stiby Road is named after him. Henry Stiby also donated items to form the basis of the Museum Collection including his glass plate negatives, which feature a number of images of local churches and the Firearm Collection. The significance of the fan is to provide a whole new perspective on someone we thought we knew; simply because of what may be considered his existing ‘manly’ donations, we also discover a fan donated by him. This is interesting when we consider that Henry Stiby (to our knowledge) never married and was buried with his housekeeper.

Next time, we hope to report on our bi-monthly archaeological Finds Afternoon.

DSCN0081

DSCN0322

Two of the fans in the collection, originally donated by Henry Stiby.

 

Back on Track

Back on Track

A Happy New Year from everyone at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

A busy week so far with requests to learn about our Yeovil Calendar from a local Museum; a booking for a talk on Louisa Harris Diaries 1887-1920 for March 2016 and a visit from a researcher to help with objects and photographs related to the Yeovil Show.

An intriguing element came just before Christmas. This reminded staff of the two-way process involved with learning from local people and local history.

Our Yeovil 2016 Calendar features Yeovil Town Football fans at a railway station awaiting departure to see Yeovil Town play Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup in the 1948 / 1949 Season.

Based on existing information, we stated this to be Yeovil Town Station. However, we received the following contact:

“The front cover photograph is fans seeing off the team at Yeovil Pen Mill station.  The contact’s husband was the youngest player for the Yeovil Town team and he is in the photograph along with the other players including Alec Stock.  The chap on the right wearing a trilby and a rosette next to the old man in the flat cap is Fred Voizey who worked at the Evening Post offices in Yeovil.  Mr Hamilton is the chap to Fred Voizey’s right – left as you look at it.  The Evening Post offices were in Princes Street where the florist is now.”

To some extent, we could see this as a mistake. However, this also shows that Museums need to keep receptive and keep learning; rather than become complacent and think they know everything about a given subject; examples in Yeovil’s case, being gloving or football. There will always be another piece of information or another memory to offer a new or different perspective on existing knowledge.

P1142 Yeovil Town Supporters 1948 49 Season Bristol Evening Post829