Categories
Archive News

Archive Volunteer Michael

Michael has spent lockdown finalising the massive project he undertook to digitise every single record of the original Clevedon Pier Company which built the pier. This near complete set of records has been held by the Elton family since the pier was taken over by the local council – Sir Arthur Elton was the chairman of the Clevedon Pier Company. 

There are over 300 items from the Clevedon Pier Company business records already digitised but this doesn’t give a true extent of the work as some items are large ledgers with up to 100 pages – all of which have needed careful handling in order to create digital copies.

And the work doesn’t stop there.  Images are taken of each document using a tripod, remote camera control and external lighting at a 20megapixel resolution.  The best image is selected and then post processed which involves cropping the image, checking alignment, removing any marks and optimising the light balance to faithfully reflect the colours of the original document. 

Below are just three digitised pages of an extremely old and frail document held in the Clevedon Pier Company collection. We can only reproduce compressed images here but the digital originals are very high quality and ‘zoomable’ to aid with reading and transcribing.

The original documents will be returned to the private collection that holds them but this exciting development means digital copies will be available for anyone to see, read, research and enjoy. We plan for this large project to come to fruition in 2021.  Watch out for posting of more examples of Michael’s digitisation work on the Clevedon Pier Company records over the next few weeks.

In Lockdown Michael has also, along with Bette, been getting training from the National Archive Sector Development Team in how to get our growing digital collection online – linked into our online catalogue which can be found at  Browse records of Clevedon Pier Catalogue | The National Archives  We’re delighted to report that Michael has been accepted on the joint National Archive/Digital Preservation Coalition online course ‘NoviceTo KnowHow’ – part of the National Archive’s Plugged In Powered Up Strategy which is supporting the archive sector with training in digital preservation.

Categories
Archive News

Archive Volunteer Helen

Helen is a professional conservator who has been busy this year undertaking work for various archives and private clients, whilst many heritage projects have been put on hold due to Covid. 

Despite her busy schedule, Helen has still found time to enjoy doing some very part-time, voluntary work for the pier archive – her most recent project has involved the slow and difficult task of unfolding and flattening a set of very fragile plans used by the Clevedon Pier Company in 1864 to obtain Department of Trade permissions to build Clevedon Pier and also to get quotations from builders to do the work. This has been an incredibly important task which means these plans can now be digitised. It’s good having someone like Helen on board to be able to do these conservation jobs for us.  The plans are a real digitisation challenge and Helen helped with the preparation of a grant application that has been submitted to try and acquire the funds to have the plans professionally digitised on a large flat bed printer.  Fingers crossed we are successful.  

Watch this space for more information about Helen’s work on preparing the old drawings and what happens next with getting them digitised.

Categories
Archive News

Archive Volunteer Bette

Bette has been busy trying to keep a weather eye on the archive from afar during the Covid crisis.  Requests for  information about the archive continue to arrive by email and need answering including requests to use images by people publishing books, for historical information about the pier for researchers and providing archival support for another heritage organisation hoping to save a structure in Essex built by George Double who also built the Pier Head and Landing Stage in 1893.   Bette has been liaising with one of the  Pier’s new trustees who has a particular interest in how the archive can be used for education and outreach – once restrictions are lifted – helped by archive volunteer Margaret, who has years of expertise in this activity from her job in a Dorset Museum.   Finally, Bette started an MA in Archival Practice at the University of Plymouth in September and is enjoying expanding her professional archive knowledge as well as gaining expertise from several other archives in the southwest.

Categories
Archive News

Archive Volunteer Margaret

Margaret has taken on, during lockdown, a giant task to transcribe over 80 letters from the Clevedon Pier Company collection which are all handwritten and contain a wealth of information about the building and running of Clevedon Pier between 1864 and its handover to the Clevedon Board in 1891. 

We have given this collection the pet name of ‘The Little Letters’ because they are all on notepaper no more than A5 in size.  The cover a huge breadth of interests as the letters are written by builders, shareholders, trade suppliers, piermasters, auditors to name but a few. The handwriting is fascinating and, at times, challenging to read so having transcriptions of all of these letters will make them so much more accessible to the public in the future.

Margaret has been assisted in her task by the fact the 80 letters formed part of the Clevedon Pier Company digitisation project undertaken by Archive Volunteer Michael and so she is now able to view them online.  For anyone transcribing old documents that ability to zoom in on them to read some of the more difficult handwriting is an absolute boon.   It also means that when the original letters are returned to their owner the Pier Archive will hold not only a complete digital record to share with public users and researchers but also a complete transcription record of every letter.   

We’ll be posting up more about Margaret’s transcription work over the next few weeks but for the moment here’s an interesting snippet that she has shared with us regarding one of the ‘little letters’ written on the 20th December, 1880.  It is very seasonal being all about a Christmas bonus.  Margaret tells us:

The bundle of ‘little letters’ includes a number of letters requesting the payment of an annual gratuity of £1 to ‘Feltham’ just before Christmas. The letter dated 20 December 1880, from A H Elton of Clevedon Court stated “ Feltham has been accustomed to receive £1 every Christmas for his service in the fishing season”.  Intrigued to find out who ‘Feltham’ was I searched the 1881 Census on http://www.ancestry.com.  Alfred Feltham, born Clevedon in 1844, was employed as ‘Pier Porter’.  He lived at Fir Hill Cottage, Dial Hill with his wife Jane and their 6 children.  I am sure his £1 bonus was much appreciated just before Christmas!

Ref: E14.99.1

SS Waverley damaged on arrival at the Pier

In the summer of 1887 an incident occurred when steamship SS Waverley visited the pier as part of its summer programme of pleasure cruises.   Following the visit a letter was sent to the Secretary of the Pier Company, dated 2 August 1887, from the charterer of the vessel, Mr Tucker of Bristol.  He complained of the conduct of the Pier Master who had “thrown off the stern rope, placing the vessel, and the pier, in a very undesirable position”.  Captain Greenway was refusing to visit Clevedon again and had been requested to survey the vessel and report on the damage incurred.

The owners of the Waverley, Messrs Campbell of Glasgow,  were on board at the time and had witnessed the incident.  Mr Tucker wrote that they were going to remove visits to Clevedon from their programme.  In another letter sent on the 29th August Mr Tucker stated “ The Pier has been in a very shaky state for some time and quite unsuitable for a large vessel like ours to call at”.  “It is highly dangerous, not only to the Pier, but to our vessel in the present state of the pier.”

Refs; E14.26.1 and E14.27.1

To find out more about what the Archive Volunteers have been up to during lockdown follow this link.

Categories
Archive News

The Archive in Lockdown

During the restrictions that Covid has placed upon us all during 2020 the Volunteer Team who run the Clevedon Pier and Heritage Archive have been busy working away quietly on projects and activities to keep the archive work going.  They haven’t been able to go to the archive but have had home-based projects to work on.  As 2020 comes to a close we thought we’d share a little of what everyone has been up to and some of the interesting findings about the Pier’s heritage.  Many of these projects will begin to become public during 2021. Below is a little snippet about each of our five volunteers who have been squirrelling away during Lockdown.

Archive Volunteer Jane
Archive Volunteer Helen
Archive Volunteer Bette
Archive Volunteer Michael
Archive Volunteer Margaret