Quite apart from everything else going on (IBM 360-67 exhibitions, Sir Robert McAlpine gutting and rebuilding Claremont Tower, Thompsons of Prudhoe removing every last shred of asbestos…) I am continuing to “consolidate the Collection”.
When not swanning off on holiday, or sitting in the garden reading (which as any fule kno, is what every retired person does, most of the time), I visit the Collection twice a week, the goals being (a) to keep an anxious eye on it while the builders are in and (b), the greater goal, to ensure that we know exactly what we have, by checking Roger’s database against the actual artefacts.
Goal B is now almost complete, after two years ( I will be delighted to tell you how it has taken two years). Of the 400+ items in Roger’s database, all but a score or so have now been accounted for. (Meanwhile I’d guess that possibly another 200 have filtered into the Collection since we started this project, and Roger himself had an unknown number of other artefacts; NONE of these are yet catalogued.)
I have at last been able to start going through the heaps of miscellaneous documents (as opposed to objects) which pack out Roger’s old office. I’m pleased to say that I tracked down another six “missing” artefacts today, and photographed many others for the database.
The piles are very miscellaneous: an old catalogue, a pamphlet from a local nature reserve, computer printouts, handbooks, technical papers, hand-written jottings about power-demands, an obituary, hardware specifications, a shopping list … all in the same pile (his office is extremely small: heaps are the natural storage method).
The heap I was going through today contained what I can confidently proclaim is the oldest document in our collection: an architect’s drawing of No.1 Kensington Terrace, dated 1951. This building (recently converted to — guess what! — student accommodation) was where the Computing Laboratory was first located, in the early 50s: possibly this drawing was used as a basis for planning how space was to be used. We have no idea who gave it to Roger, or when, and — like many, many of the documents in his office — it has not been catalogued. There were other interesting documents in that particular part of the pile: I include them here for your amusement — a relief from bits of computing hardware 🙂