Listen to this Story!

Approximately 35 years after Akyaaba Addai-Sebo – a Ghanaian-born activist – established Britain’s first-ever ‘Black History Month’, the UK continues to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black people every October. This annual celebration aims to promote a better understanding of Black history, with events taking place all the way from London to Aberdeen this year.

To coincide with this important month, Newcastle Robinson Library has collaborated with Seven Stories to host a city-wide exhibition on Black Britain and children’s literature. Embodying the message, ‘Listen to This Story: From History to Our Story’, the exhibition features some of the most interesting picture books, nursery rhymes and illustrations, told from the material within Newcastle University’s Special Collections and Archives. The exhibition is running from 20th October 2022 – January 2023, on Level 2, Special Collections and Archives exhibition space, Philip Robinson Library – free and open to all.

Listen to this Story! exhibition poster, featuring an illustration of 2 black girls dressed in white t-shirts with a green pinafore dress over the top, reading books on a brown table

Analysing these archived children’s works has enabled us to look back over centuries of British literary history, allowing us to present a unique insight into how race relations have changed within the UK. Many of the books show how, historically, literature for young people has played a prominent role in transferring problematic ideas about race and power. Indeed, it becomes clear that texts even for the very youngest of readers, such as ABC books and nursery rhymes, have depicted non-white people in derogatory and stereotypical ways.

Front cover of Ten Little Niggger Boys by Jean Cumming [on loan from Karen Sands O’Connor’s Collection.  

In a similar way, we can see that young people’s texts also presented people of colour as being white children’s ‘play-things’, such as toys, dolls, and gnomes. Presenting Black people like this was historically used to justify white oppression as it effectively demonstrated people of colour as needing parental care and governance.

An example of this can be seen in William Nicholson’s The Pirate Twins (1929). In which, Nicholson presents two childlike pirates; miniature Black people who are cared for (and controlled) by a young white girl called Mary.

Illustration from The Pirate Twins, by Nicholson, William (1929) [Butler (Joan) Collection, 823.912 NIC]

These dehumanising caricatures became so normalised in British society that they could be found not only in children’s books but on postcards, perfume bottles, games, and jam jar stickers (to name but a few examples). They worked to elevate Eurocentric, white standards and devalue Black individuals, cultures, features and histories.

As a way to counteract and resist these harmful depictions, many authors, publicists and illustrators worked hard to create humanising stories which normalised and celebrated Black people.

It is clear, then, that a lot of progress has been made in the world of children’s literature.

However, with only 15% of published children’s books featuring a character of colour in 2020, we still have a long way to go to ensure that everybody is represented equally!

Written by exhibition placement student, Ella Fothergill.

We have sought to ensure that the content of this blog post complies with UK copyright law. Please note however, that we have been unable to ascertain the rights holders of some of the images used. If you are concerned that there may have been a breach of your intellectual property rights, please contact us with the details of the image(s) concerned at libraryhelp@ncl.ac.uk and we will have the specified image(s) taken down from the blog post.

Conservation: You don’t want to screw it up.

This year World Architecture Day falls on 03 October 2022, and, as one of the cataloguers of the Sir Terry Farrell archive it seems fitting to write another blog where we can revel in some of Sir Terry’s interactions with listed buildings and the conservation process.

If you spend a small portion of your day indulging in architecture news to keep abreast of current trends… just me then… a key theme that crops up is a concern, maybe an aversion, towards redesigning listed buildings. The reasons for this aversion include, but are not limited to, the protective legislation around listed buildings of various grades and the extent to which, or how, they can be extended and modified. Restrictions may relate to the types of materials used, styles emulated, and building techniques required, not to mention which local authority is involved. It’s a heady mix to comprehend, regardless of if you are an architect wanting to demolish a listed staircase, or a member of the public who wants to refurbish their home.

Never-the-less, architects willing to engage with the listed building planning and application process do exist and Sir Terry Farrell was one of them. He appears to have been very engaged with the redevelopment opportunities afforded by listed buildings, and developed innovative solutions to satisfy building inspectors, local planning authorities, clients and contractors. Sir Terry Farrell appears to have had logical reasons for preserving listed buildings: if a building is still serviceable, why destroy it. The reasons are also sentimental: architects should respect rather than erase what they find on the ground because buildings are containers for lived experience and memory. By repairing and modifying the original fabric of the building, as an architect you contribute to the tapestry of living history.

Grey Street – Newcastle-upon-Tyne

To start, something a bit local to Central Newcastle; the refurbishment of Grey Street. 52-78 Grey Street was designed by John Dobson for Richard Grainger in the 19th century (c. 1836) and is currently situated within the Central Newcastle Conservation area with a Grade II listed status. In 1995 Newcastle City Council approved a scheme by Terry Farrell & Company Architects in which Numbers 52-60 were restored and extended to the rear and the facade of Numbers 62-78 was retained to provide a frontage to a new open plan office space. Early planning applications included an archaeological survey, and the Sir Terry Farrell archive holds an array of earlier material detailing historic research and early building use plans. There are also some examples of pre-existing interior detailing that are not just random pieces of wood.

Example of historic floorplan (c1920-1925) detailing use areas along Market Lane and Pilgrim Street.
Examples of interior joinery details and associated photocopies of joinery profiles for 52-78 Grey Street.

Most of the external façade of Grey Street had to be retained during the redevelopment; however, the internal reconfiguration was extensive, improving access throughout 52-78 Grey Street and redesigning the courtyard spaces between High Bridge Street and Market Lane. So, whilst the external appearance of Grey Street looks unaltered, the internal layout has been greatly changed. Just something to consider next time you are off on a stroll from Grey’s Monument.

The Royal Institution – Albermarle Street, London

Axonometric Impression drawing detailing key improvements to the Royal Institution.

The Royal Institution was founded in 1799 and is based in a row of houses designed by John Carr and built in 1756. A later façade was added to the front of the terrace in 1838 by Lewis Vulliamy.  The rooms behind remained largely in their original layout; they were poorly connected and, by the 1980s, were also run-down and confusing to visiting members of the public. Rodney Melville and Associates were initially tasked with conducting an Impact on Heritage Assessment which influenced the refurbishment plans based upon the Grade I listed status of elements of the building. These listed elements included the external façade, main staircase, lecture theatre, and ‘Conversation Room.’

Terry Farrell and Partners were selected as architects for the redevelopment of the Royal Institution project which ran from 1999-2008. In the final design, circulation routes were reinvented and the difference between public and private spaces clearly demarcated. The aim was to create clear horizontal and vertical connections and, at the same time, re-allocate what had become a jumble of different functions to logical defined spaces. The result was a ground floor of interconnected public spaces, with a basement level public exhibition space largely focused on the Young Scientists Centre, a first-floor lecture theatre and library suite, whilst third floor offices and laboratories were located on the top floor. The director’s flat was changed from the second floor to the fourth floor, replacing the caretaker’s flat. The listed ‘Sad’ staircase nearer the rear of the building was refurbished and extended to the lower ground floor.

Key to the straightforward zoning was provided by a rehabilitated rear courtyard of workshops which formed an atrium, and a new central lift component was installed and glazed over. This project demonstrates how extensive structural changes can be made within a listed building whilst appreciating its existing fabric.

Tobacco Dock Shopping Village – Wapping, London

This project comprised the restoration and conservation of a significant historic Grade 1 listed dockside building dating from 1818, representing part of the early 19th century expansion of London docks.  The project lasted from 1985-1990 and was completed in 2 parts; the first being the restoration of the original building fabric, and the second part involved the insertion of shopping and entertainment facilities and rebuilding the original dockside.

Restoration methods included the repair and the replacement of missing sections of the warehouse structure with fragments of the same type from buildings of adjoining sites which were threatened with destruction. Material from the archive demonstrates how remnants of industrial heritage around London influenced the finished appearance of the Tobacco Dock, and provide minutely detailed instructions for the refurbishment of salvaged material.

Instructions and photographs for the refurbishment of salvaged telephone boxes to use at Tobacco Dock.

There is also evidence of the ingenious decisions made to protect the existing structure of the building, such as retaining sub-soil moisture to prevent timber supports from drying out by discharging rainwater pipes below the basement floor.

As the above projects demonstrate, the archive of Sir Terry Farrell is full of material detailing how listed buildings can be sensitively repaired, retained and modified for their overall improvement. Unfortunately, there is no time to share evidence of the extensive communication that occurs with the planning application process of a listed building or conservation area. However, if you are interested in research matters relating to building conservation or other architectural interests within the Sir Terry Farrell archive you can contact the cataloguing project team, either Jemma Singleton at jemma.singleton@newcastle.ac.uk or Ruth Sheret at ruth.sheret@newcastle.ac.uk who will be happy to assist.

Sir Terry Farrell’s archive has been generously loaned to Newcastle University Library and is currently being catalogued. Once catalogued it will be made fully available to the public.  All rights held by The Terry Farrell Foundation. 

Gertrude Bell’s Letters: Looking beyond her words

Our Gertrude Bell website (link:http://gertrudebell.ncl.ac.uk/) features transcripts of thousands of Bell’s letters and diary entries, alongside over 7,500 of her photographs. Thanks to a generous donation from the Harry and Alice Stillman Family Foundation we have been able to digitise and catalogue the letters Bell wrote to her family, her diaries and photographs to modern day archival standards and this process has allowed us to uncover details beyond what has previously been recorded in the transcriptions.

The homepage of the current Gertrude Bell website

Original transcripts of Bell’s letters and diaries were created in the 1990s and published online in the early 2000s. While these provide an excellent resource for exploring their content, cataloguing and digitisation has revealed new details and insight into how Bell communicated with her family, how those letters reached home, and the early 20th Century world she lived in.

When travelling in the Middle East, as she did on several prolonged trips in the 1900s and 1910s, Bell often used her letters to chronicle her journey. She regularly continued writing the same letter for several days, adding a new section each day and posting it when passing through a town. The original transcripts of Bell’s letters treat each day’s addition as a separate page on the website, however cataloguing and digitisation has revealed how often Bell wrote the same letter over multiple days, and sometimes, how rarely she passed civilization and an opportunity to post a letter.

Envelope of a letter posted by Gertrude Bell to her step-mother from Turkey in July 1907, including stamp, postmark, a changed address and later annotations.

The envelopes Bell’s letters were posted in also provide clues about their journey after they were posted home. Her father, a wealthy industrialist, and her step-mother lived between their family home at Rounton Grange in North Yorkshire and Sloane Street in London. Bell would choose one or the other address to post the letter to and if the letters arrived at the address the intended parent was not at they would be forwarded on by crossing out the address and adding the correct one. This was not unlikely when postage from the Arabian Desert to Rounton could take several months! Indeed, the envelopes or letters themselves often contain hand written dates telling us when a letter was received by her family, providing an insight into the speed and efficiency of inter-continental postage of the day.

As records of their journey back to Britain the envelopes also have stamps affixed, postmarks, and during the First World War had stickers applied to signify that they’d been passed by a censor. The stamps provide a small insight into the countries Bell was posting her letters from and their changing political landscapes. This is particularly the case for the time that Gertrude lived and worked in what is now Iraq, during and after the First World War, where the changing face of the British occupation is reflected in the stamps on the envelopes of Gertrude’s letters home.

The front and reverse of an envelope from a letter written by Gertrude Bell to her step-mother in November 1916. The envelope has had a red stamp on its front and label on its rear indicated it has been opened by a censor. A pencil note also shows that this letter was not to be included in the later published work of Bell’s letters.

The letters also reveal clues as to how they’ve been used and managed in the time since Gertrude’s death in 1926. Following her death, Gertrude’s step-mother compiled and published two books containing text from many of Gertrude’s letters. The process of deciding what was and what wasn’t included is seen by the crossing out in pencil of sections of letter, or marking on the envelope that a letter was not to be copied. These are often sections where Gertrude talks about family matters or where Gertrude offered her (typically forthright) opinions of the people she met and worked with. Sometimes brief instructions were scribbled on the letters or envelopes themselves, particularly if a letter was not to be copied. 

Letter written by Gertrude Bell to her father in March 1903. The letter includes a section which has later been crossed out in pencil and a postscript which Gertrude added after signing the letter.

Thus, the process of cataloguing and digitising Gertrude Bell’s rich archive of letters allows us to explore facets of Bell’s life and her letters that are not immediately obvious from their content alone. Marks which help us understand how she lived and communicated with her family, how the political and cultural landscape of the lands that Bell lived in changed, and how Bell’s family managed her letters can all be explored through the newly digitised and catalogued archive.

Thanks to project funding from the Harry and Alice Stillman Family Foundation a brand new Gertrude Bell website in early 2023. This will make the digitised images, transcripts and a new archival catalogue available alongside each other, providing a step-change in access to this internationally important archive.

The Gertrude Bell website can be found at http://gertrudebell.ncl.ac.uk/

Find out more about the Gertrude Bell and the Kingdom of Iraq at 100 project, and the archive on the Newcastle University website here: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2021/08/gertrudebellarchivedonation/

Cartoons and Caricatures

Newcastle University is currently in the process of cataloguing the Sir Terry Farrell Archive, a collection of professional practice material from renowned architect, planner and urban designer Sir Terry Farrell. In amongst all the plans, correspondence and reems of project based material you would expect from an architecture firm there are also some more whimsical items. Namely caricatures and cartoons of urban features, people and the natural world.

Caricatures of employees often crop up in the collection. These caricatures entitled ‘The Tycoon Twins’ were intended to be hung in the company offices. They were created by Sir Terry depicting Stefan Krummeck and Gavin Erasmus, Directors of Farrells, Hong Kong. The correspondence note reads ‘I think the side by side pictures made them look as though they are arguing or not speaking, with the original option, one above the other, they look as though they are working together.’ The side-by-side option was clearly seen as being more effective.

Photograph of a selection of 4 items from the Sir Terry Farrell Archive, including a typed memo, notes and two drawing of caricatures of side portraits.
Memos and presentation options for ‘The Tycoon Twins’ (uncatalogued collection).
Two caricatures side-by-side, contained within 2 circles are side portraits of people, titled 'The Tycoon Twins'.
‘The Tycoon Twins,’ by Sir Terry Farrell 2008 (uncatalogued collection).

Other caricatures are less formalised and are dotted throughout the concept and design sketches, possibly as a moment of distraction or procrastination.

Stylised drawings also make an appearance in some project work. Here are some sketched images showing the historical development of the Hungerford Bridge District, London from 1669 at Hungerford House and the construction of the suspension footbridge in 1845. These were also displayed in the company offices.

Photograph containing 5 sketches of the development of the Hungerford Bridge from 1669-20th century.
Stages of development of Hungerford Bridge from 1669 – 20th century (uncatalogued collection).

Sketching on the move is a common theme that runs through this collection. Caricatures form some of the material presumably produced by Terry when he was on his various travels. These images were located in a peculiar folder titled ‘Train portraits’. Maybe someone you know has been unwittingly sketched by Sir Terry.

Aside from buildings and people, there are also some beautiful drawings of elements of the natural world which have been anthropomorphised. These trees form a series of artworks titled ‘The Old Men of Maytham,’ and include an Oak, a Beech and a Spanish Chestnut.

2 sketches of trees titled' Old Men of Maytham'. One is a sketch of an oak tree and the other a Beach tree.
‘The Old Men of Maytham,’ by Sir Terry Farrell, April 2010 (uncatalogued collection).
Sketch of a Spanish Chestnut tree, titled 'Old Men of Mayhem'.
‘The Old Men of Maytham,’ by Sir Terry Farrell, April 2010 (uncatalogued collection).

Material has been used with permission of Farrells. Sir Terry Farrell’s archive has been generously loaned to Newcastle University Library and is currently being catalogued. Once catalogued it will be made fully available to the public.  All rights held by The Terry Farrell Foundation. 

Celebrating 50 Years of Pride

July 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first Pride march, held in London on 1st July 1972. The first Pride saw around 2,000 participants marching together. Over the past 50 years that number has grown considerably, with the 2019 London Pride seeing 1.5 million people taking part to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights.

Photograph of London Pride 1987 showing a group of people carrying a banner with 'LESBIAN + GAY PRIDE '87' written in bold letters on it.
Photograph of London Pride 1987 (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/03/02/01).

The official theme for this year’s march was #AllOurPride, uniting the collective past, present, and future of Pride for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s London Pride Parade took place on Saturday 2nd July, beginning at Hyde Park, where the first Pride march in 1972 ended.

Photograph of a display celebrating Gay Pride Week 1979.
Photograph of a display celebrating Gay Pride Week 1979 (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/03/07/02).

2022 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality, a branch of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) which was established in Lancashire in 1964 and grew to have local groups throughout the country. The archive for the Tyneside CHE contains documents relating to the group’s many campaigns for equal rights. For example, the archive covers the fight for the age of consent for same-sex couples to match that of heterosexual couples, and campaigns against Margaret Thatcher’s 1988 Section 28 legislation banning local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’ by discussing LGBTQ+ issues in schools. As well as campaigning, CHE also provided a social and support network for gay men and lesbians.

Within the Tyneside CHE archive, it is possible to look back at Pride marches across the past five decades. The first Pride march in 1972 took place 5 years after the Sexual Offences Act 1967 which decriminalised sex between gay men over the age of 21 in England and Wales. At the time of the first Pride, however, the LGBTQ+ community still faced much discrimination – for example gay marriage was not legal, and gay and bisexual people were banned from joining the armed forces.

CHE Broadsheet, April 1978, article highlighting that this was the first year Pride saw support from allies in meaningful numbers
CHE Broadsheet, April 1978, article highlighting that this was the first year Pride saw support from allies in meaningful numbers (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/02/02).
Close-up of CHE Bulletin 1978 central article
Close-up of CHE Bulletin 1978 central article ( Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/02/02).

The Pride movement was influenced by the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. The riots were a response to a violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn gay bar and were a catalyst for LGBTQ+ equality movements worldwide. The significance of Stonewall is reflected in the Tyneside CHE archive, as the marches of 1979 and 1989 commemorate the 10th and 20th anniversaries of this watershed moment in the LGBTQ+ liberation movement.

Stickers from Pride 1979 commemorating 10 years since Stonewall
Stickers from Pride 1979 commemorating 10 years since Stonewall (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/03/07/02).
Pride 1989 Annual Newspaper/Programme
Pride 1989 Annual Newspaper/Programme (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/03/07/02).
Pride 1989 Annual Newspaper/Programme
Pride 1989 Annual Newspaper/Programme (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/03/07/01).

Throughout the years, Tyneside CHE organised annual trips to the London Pride marches. A coach was arranged, and ticket prices were ‘related to people’s earnings, so everyone can afford to come down on our bus’. Pricing tickets in this way promoted inclusivity and ensured LGBTQ+ people from across the socio-economic spectrum could participate in Pride.

Tyneside CHE Newsletter front page article advertising the organised trip to London Pride and the sale of coach tickets, June 1988, Issue 213
Tyneside CHE Newsletter front page article advertising the organised trip to London Pride and the sale of coach tickets, June 1988, Issue 213 (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/02/01).

The London march was not the only way to celebrate Pride, however, with the CHE Tyneside newsletter from 1987 outlining that some events were planned in Tyneside itself.

CHE Tyneside Newsletter promoting Pride, June 1987, Issue 201
CHE Tyneside Newsletter promoting Pride, June 1987, Issue 201 ( Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/02/01).

The Tyneside CHE archive also contains paraphernalia from Pride festivals across Europe, including from the very first EuroPride. EuroPride is a pan-European festival hosted by a different European city each year. The first EuroPride took place in London in 1992 and was attended by over 100,000 people. Not only does 2022 mark 50 years since the first Pride, but it also marks the 30 year anniversary of EuroPride.

Magazine from the first EuroPride, showing a photograph of 2 dogs wearing t-shirts
Magazine from the first EuroPride, London 1992, published by the Lesbian and Gay Pride Organisation (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/03/07/01).

Looking through the Tyneside CHE archive it is clear that a lot of progress has been made since the first Pride march 50 years ago. However, with 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people in Britain experiencing a hate crime, and with conversion therapy still being legal in the UK, there is still a long way to go to achieving true equality.

Pride 1987 Festival Programme, showing an illustration of 2 people holding a love heart
Pride 1987 Festival Programme (Tyneside Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Tyneside CHE) Archive, CHE/03/07/01).

CHE materials are used by kind permission of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

We have sought to ensure that the content of this blog post complies with UK copyright law. Please note however, that we have been unable to ascertain the rights holders of some of the images used. If you are concerned that there may have been a breach of your intellectual property rights, please contact us with the details of the image(s) concerned at libraryhelp@ncl.ac.uk and we will have the specified image(s) taken down from the blog post.

Building Expectations with Architectural Archives

The cataloguing project for the Sir Terry Farrell archive is just over one year old and although we’ve only scratched the surface of what the archive has to offer, we thought now would be a good moment to share some of the gems that we’ve found so far… inbetween cataloguing thousands of architectural plans.

My name is Jemma Singleton, and I am the Senior Archives Assistant assigned to the Sir Terry Farrell collection along with Archivist, Ruth Sheret. Working within Newcastle University Special Collections team, our jobs are to catalogue, re-package, and promote the collection so that it can be publicly accessible and used as an excellent resource for teaching, research and exhibition purposes. As the Farrell collection is so large, it is currently being stored at Newcastle University’s off site research reserve facility. 

Archive Context

The Farrell Collection holds the retained records of professional practice for Sir Terry Farrell through all the iterations of his working life. There is also a small assortment of work from Sir Terry’s student days and from his working life prior to setting up his own architecture firm. If you would like to know for example about the working relationship between the Terry Farrell Partnership and Ove Arup during the years 1980-1987, or the many revisions to details on projects like Alban Gate, then this archive is a great place to start!

When the collection was deposited with Newcastle University, we knew very little about the plentiful and detailed content contained within it, as it arrived uncatalogued.  Our role is to work through the many boxes we received, mainly organised by project prior to us receiving them.  Over the remaining 18 months of the project we are going to systematically work through each box, catalogue the detail contained within, with the aim of creating a searchable catalogue for the collection and making it a usable resource for all.

A portion of a grey breezeblocked room divided into rolling stacks of 5 bays, 10 shelves. Each shelf contains cylindrical and triangular architectural tubes. Image demonstrates an example bay of an archive store.
One aisle of the archive store.

Plans and All Revisions herein.

Within the Farrell collection there are over 1000 tubes of drawings that represent projects from the initial tender stages of design through to contract and construction drawings, including the many revisions for each of these.  They are mainly divided by building project and can contain anywhere between 10 and 70 drawings. There could be upwards of 40,000 individual planning drawings within the collection.  The number of drawings retained for a project varies greatly across different designs, for example Alban Gate has over 500 individual drawings, whereas the Royal Institution project has around 200.

One of the activities for us when working with the architectural drawings is to repackage them into appropriate tubes for long-term storage purposes, enabling them to be appropriately conserved and available for years to come. We check for damage to plans, split the contents of tubes up if they are over-filled, and then repackage them into resilient archival standard tubes.

An A2 sized piece of transparent paper laid flat on a wood effect table with rectangular map weights at each corner.  The designs on the paper contain rear elevation sketches of a 4 storey house. The image is to demonstrate an example of drawings found within an architectural collection.
An example of a working drawing from Jencks House consisting of rear elevation sketches.

Stakeholder Correspondence, Contractor information and Public Inquiry Records

Another large division in the collection is the considerable amount of correspondence between the Terry Farrell companies and other groups of contractors. It is dense material consisting of long chains of correspondence, often in email format, ordered chronologically and it is well labelled. This type of correspondence allows researchers to follow a narrative thread of the development of a building, how an invoice has been negotiated or how a snag list has been contested. You may also get a snapshot in time about what a typical business lunch consisted of in 1995!

A photograph of a circular blur plaque on a brickwork background. It states 'Ove Arup' Engineer and Philosopher was born here. This image is to demonstrate the connections that can be made between the archive and the world outside the archive.
A blue plaque in the Newcastle area related to one of Sir Terry’s professional partnerships. Bonus points if you can guess where.

Models

A particularly appealing aspect of the Farrell collection are the architectural models. There are 90 models of various sizes held within the store. They can be small enough to carry by hand or large enough to be a logistical challenge to move. There are mock-ups of individual buildings that were used for concept design or exhibition purposes, designs for architectural installations that were never built, and large-scale masterplan models in multiple sections that connect. We have carried out an extensive condition report for all the models in the collection.  Each model requires a different level of conservation from structural repairs like mending roof struts or realigning shrubbery, through to cleaning and dusting. There is the potential for a selection of the models to be used in exhibitions, so one of the important aspects of our project is to develop model care, conservation, and transportation protocols for Newcastle University Library to support using this section of the collection.

An example of a design model for the Home Office building in Marsham Street.

Project Development Documents

Sir Terry Farrell is known as an architect with significant interest in and experience of urban design which forms a significant part of the collection. We are finding a huge range of masterplans within the collection from compact civic planning at Westoe (South Tyneside), through to regional redevelopment ideas in the Thames Gateway (London). As research tools these masterplans provide excellent historical context material for a chosen project and are an excellent distillation of his ideas about how particular sites could be arranged.

Publicity material

The collection also holds an eclectic range of publicity material for some of Sir Terry Farrell’s more landmark buildings.  This material demonstrates the weird and wonderful things that an archive, even a professional one, can contain, along with the imaginative ways that buildings enter the public consciousness. Notable examples include snow globes of the Peak (Hong Kong), and a vodka bottle from the launch of the James Bond film Skyfall, in which the Terry Farrell designed MI6 building is destroyed. There are also numerous magazine features and press cutting collections about different building projects or masterplan designs that Sir Terry Farrell has been involved with throughout his career.

A small snow globe on a polystyrene base. The snow globe has a white, green and red base with the term 'hong kong' along the base and ornamental towers along the side of the base. Inside the snow globe is a small scale feature of the Peak tower, consisting of 2 columns supporting a  wide dish building element.
One of the many snow globes initially found in the Sir Terry Farrell collection.

A Little Bit o’ This

Within a lot of project documentation there are draft drawing collections for specific buildings, along with larger design and presentation artwork. They provide interesting context to visual design and construction narrative within the rest of the collection. Additionally, there are boxes of slides which make for appealing visual aids in displaying the different states of building design. These physical materials largely disappear from the collection once these capturing processes became digital.  This type of visual content continues within the collection as born-digital objects. In layman’s terms, the drawings are still present in the collection but located on a floppy disc, or CD. This change in format has raised practical questions into how these records are going to be preserved, catalogued and made accessible for research in the future.

Access to the Archive

It may be that you have some ideas relating to the Terry Farrell collection; maybe you want to know more about masterplans in relation to urban design or enquire about some images for a specific building. Maybe full immersion into a built environment public enquiry process is more your jam. If you have a Farrell related architecture enquiry, then Ruth or I are best placed to assist you in your research efforts. Whilst cataloguing is underway much of the collection is not fully accessible and will be more available when the completed catalogue goes live at the end of the project. However, we are happy to help with research enquiries if we can, so please do get in touch using the following email address jemma.singleton@newcastle.ac.uk. Stay tuned for future blog pieces about Sir Terry Farrell and his architectural prowess.

Sir Terry Farrell’s archive has been generously loaned to Newcastle University Library and is currently being catalogued. Once catalogued it will be made fully available to the public.  All rights held by The Terry Farrell Foundation. 

The Alnwick Corn Exchange Archive – The William Dickson Papers

These papers were originally accumulated by the office of William Dickson, overseer of the Alnwick Corn Exchange from its opening in 1862 until 1880. Dickson, a solicitor in Alnwick and local benefactor, in fact raised the money for the building of the Alnwick Corn Exchange, and then oversaw the building of the Exchange, before then taking responsibility for its running for the next twenty years.

The Alnwick Corn Exchange Archive contains correspondence and legal agreements relating to the purchase of the site and the subsequent building programme; correspondence about similar markets in Berwick and Kelso, a Broadside announcing the opening and detailing the functions of the new Exchange, as well as accounts and correspondence for the period 1862 – 1880.

These papers are particularly fascinating as the Exchange was used not only as a market but also as a venue for entertainment, and both the accounts and correspondence files contain much information about the acts which were booked during this period.

Images below are from the Alnwick Corn Exchange Archive.

A fundraising pledge letter for the building of the Alnwick Corn Exchange, 1860. W Dixon of Warkworth pledges to take one £50 share in the Exchange building.
A fundraising pledge letter for the building of the Alnwick Corn Exchange, 1860. W Dixon of Warkworth pledges to take one £50 share in the Exchange building (ACE/01/01-1).
Official declaration of the opening of the Exchange by the Keeper of the Exchange (Robert Wardhaugh), 7th May 1862.
Official declaration of the opening of the Exchange by the Keeper of the Exchange (Robert Wardhaugh), 7th May 1862 (ACE/02/01-1).
Scale of Charges at Alnwick Corn Exchange, 1862.
Scale of Charges at Alnwick Corn Exchange, 1862 (ACE/02/01-2).
A letter from the National Opera Company to Alnwick Corn Exchange, 1876. The Managers of the Company ask if they can book the Exchange for March 10 to 15 inclusive.  They go on to write that if those nights were available they would be happy to give up the room during the day time, and that if the full six nights were not available would three or four consecutive nights be possible.
A letter from the National Opera Company to Alnwick Corn Exchange, 1876. The Managers of the Company ask if they can book the Exchange for March 10 to 15 inclusive.  They go on to write that if those nights were available they would be happy to give up the room during the day time, and that if the full six nights were not available would three or four consecutive nights be possible (ACE/05/01/02-1).
A flyer for an act playing in Barnstaple, part of correspondence making arrangements for the act to visit Alnwick.
A flyer for an act playing in Barnstaple, part of correspondence making arrangements for the act to visit Alnwick (ACE/05/01).
A mixed review for the Dunbar and Cogan Theatre Company, 1869!  The cutting accompanied a letter from William Cogan to the Alnwick Corn Exchange requesting a booking at the Exchange later in the year, "for a period of two to three weeks for theatrical performance".
A mixed review for the Dunbar and Cogan Theatre Company, 1869!  The cutting accompanied a letter from William Cogan to the Alnwick Corn Exchange requesting a booking at the Exchange later in the year, “for a period of two to three weeks for theatrical performance” (ACE/05/01/05-1).

The Sinking of the Titanic

The 15th April 1912 was a dark day in maritime history. RMS Titanic sank during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, after hitting an iceberg. The Titanic was built at Harland and Wolff, Belfast and was the largest passenger liner in the world at the time. The accident resulted in the loss of over 1500 lives. 

News of the tragedy spread around the world and the sinking was huge news in the media. Punch included a dedication to those who drowned.  

“Tears for the dead, who shall not come again
Homeward to any shore on any tide!
Tears for the dead! But through that bitter rain
Breaks, like an April sun, the smile of pride.

What courage yielded place to others’ need,
Patient of discipline supreme decree,
Well may we guess who know that gallant breed
Schooled in the ancient chivalry of the sea! O.S.”

Page from Punch magazine showing two women holding hands dressed in Roman attire with a dedication written underneith.
Toll of the Sea [Dedicated to the memory of the brave men who went down in the Titanic], dated 15th April 1912. Punch, 20th Century Collection, 052 PUN, v. 142, 24th April 1912.

People wrote of the Titanic’s sinking in their diaries and in letters. The M. P., Charles Philips Trevelyan wrote to his daughter, asking if Miss Clarke had told her of the accident. 

The letter reads,

“Has Miss Clarke told you the dreadful story of the ship-wreck of the Titanic? It struck on an ice-berg and went down and hundreds of people were drowned.”

Letter from Charles Philips Trevelyan to Pauline Trevelyan, 20th April 1912.
Letter from Charles Philips Trevelyan to his daughter, Pauline Trevelyan, 20th April 1912. Trevelyan (Charles Philips) Archive, CPT/4/1/9/73.

His wife, Mary Trevelyan, known as Molly, wrote in her diary of the tragedy,

“The last week has been overshadowed by the most terrible shipping disaster that has ever happened. There are two giant White Star ships, The Olympic and The Titanic, the biggest liners afloat. The Titanic with 2,200 on board, started on her maiden voyage at the end of last week and on Sunday night, just before midnight, she struck an iceberg, 600 miles from the American coast and sunk in 2.5 hours. All the women and children were saved, but hardly any men. There were 13 lifeboats full, and overfull. The titanic marconied for help, and the Carpathia came under full steam, and arrived at dawn to fill the boats but no Titanic. The accounts are heartrending, and one could hardly read them without tears.” 

Diary entry extract of Mary Trevelyan, 20th April 1912
Extract from Mary Trevelyan’s diary, 20th April 1912. Trevelyan (Charles Philips) Archive, CPT/2/1/13

The former Professor of Classics at Armstrong College, John Wight Duff, wrote of how the disaster was mentioned in the Church service he attended at Croft, on 21st April 1912.

The diary entry from 21st April 1912 reads,

“The Rector’s sermon was on Exod. [Exodus] XV. 5. “The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone” and touched on “the week of eclipse when it was dark at noonday” and shadowed with the gloom of the loss of the Titanic on an ice field and the drowning of over 1400 passengers and crew.”

Extract from Professor John Wight Duff’s diary
Extract from Professor John Wight Duff’s diary, 21st April 1912. Duff (Professor John Wight) Diaries, JWD/01/01/03

The journalist and author Frederic Whyte, mentions the event in a letter to his then future wife. Included are cuttings about another passenger who perished, the journalist W. T. Stead being aboard the ship, as well as information of a special service held in his memory.

Press cuttings on W. T. Stead in a letter from Frederic Whyte to Karin Lija, 21st April 1912
Press cuttings on W. T. Stead in a letter from Frederic Whyte to Karin Lilja (later Whyte), 21st April 1912. Whyte (Frederic) Archive, FW/2

There has always been a lot of interest in the Titanic, partly as it was known as the “unsinkable” ship. The wreck of the Titanic was eventually discovered in September 1985, when it was discovered to have split into two., but due to deterioration the ship has never been raised.  There have been further expeditions to the wreck to recover items, leading to various exhibitions about it around the world. 

Many books, fiction and non-fiction including Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic and films, including James Cameron’s Titanic.

In recent years a Titanic Quarter has been developed in Belfast which is proving to be a popular visitor attraction and ensuring that the name Titanic lives on.

The archive of poet David Constantine – March 2022

We are proud to announce that David Constantine, the award-winning English poet, translator and literary figure has chosen to entrust his personal papers to Newcastle University Special Collections and Archives. Born in Salford Lancashire in 1944, he is a key contemporary writer and his career of over forty years has placed him at the heart of British literary culture. The archive, which is currently being catalogued, gives a unique opportunity to access his work and influence.

Photograph of David Constantine.

“Coming to the North East in the autumn of 1969 to take up a job as Lecturer in German at the University of Durham, I very soon realized my good fortune. I had been writing poems and stories – badly – for some years by then, and in Durham, where we lived, and in Newcastle, there was a lively literary scene. At readings (Colpitts, Morden Tower, the two Universities) and in conversations with other writers, I began to find my own way and get one or two things published, in Jon Silkin’s Stand, for example. But the big event and greatest encouragement was getting to know Neil Astley, who founded Bloodaxe Books in 1978, and published my first collection three years later. I knew at once that was where I wanted to be, and there I have been ever since. Poets who were my friends and whose work I admire – Ken Smith and Helen Dunmore, for example – have died along the way, which saddened me but further deepened my gratitude and loyalty to Bloodaxe, our shared publisher. Altogether, although I moved to Oxford in 1981 and have gained much from being there, I felt a strong allegiance to the North, especially once Ra Page founded Comma Press in Manchester (2002) and began to publish my fiction. My roots are in the North, in Salford, a good deal of my writing (though by no means all or even most of it) has dealt with Northern places and people. So that, in brief, is why I wanted my archive to go to Newcastle and I am grateful it has been accepted there.”

David Constantine

In 1980, Constantine’s poetry collection A Brightness to Cast Shadows was one of the first to be published by Bloodaxe Books, and he has remained with them as publishers of his poetry. Newcastle University Special Collections and Archives also houses the Bloodaxe Books archive. Find out more about Constantine’s connection to Bloodaxe Books here; https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/category/david-constantine.

In 2020, Constantine was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He has published fifteen collections of his own work and several in collaboration with other poets. His work in translating poetry from German has twice won him the Poetry Society’s European Poetry Translation Prize, once in 1996 for his collection of the poems of Fredrich Hölderlin and again in 2003 for Hans Magnus Enzenberger’s collection Lighter than Air.

Often using a metaphysical poetics, Constantine’s poetry has been described as possessing “rare lyric intensity” and “confessional intimacy” (https://poetryarchive.org/poet/david-constantine/). Constantine asserts that he uses his poetry as a “utopian demonstration” of “what true freedom would be like” (ibid). He suggests that poetry “helps keep hope alive […] [and] incites us to make more radical demands” (ibid). His most notable works include Watching for Dolphins (1983), A Pelt of Wasps (1998), Nine Fathoms Deep (2009), Elder (2014) and Belongings (2020). Watching for Dolphins won the Poetry Society’s Alice Hunt Bartlett Award in 1984 and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize in 2002.

Page from typescript of Watching for Dolphins.

Constantine has also published six short story collections including Under the Dam (2005), The Sheiling (2009), Tea at the Midland (2012) and In Another Country (2015). In 2010, Tea at the Midland, “a masterful story, pregnant with fluctuating interpretations and concealed motives,” won the BBC National Short Story Award (theguardian.com/books/2012/dec/14/tea-at-midland-david-constantine-review). In the same year, The Sheiling was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and Tea at the Midland went on to win this in 2013. In 2015, the short story In Another Country was adapted into the acclaimed and successful box office film 45 Years. The Guardian reviewed it as “supremely intelligent and moving” and Charlotte Rampling was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress (theguardian.com/film/2015/aug/27/45-years-review). See more about 45 Years here; https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3544082/.

Constantine’s body of work also contains two novels, Davies (1985) and The Life Writer (2015). Both explore themes of uncovering the past through traces and memories, and the archive gives a unique opportunity to discover how Constantine engages with these dynamics. Davies is a fictional realisation of the life of a notorious habitual petty-criminal David Davies (1849-1929). In response to Constantine’s newspaper advert requesting memories of Davies, the archive reveals the wealth of information he received in the form of letters. One elderly woman remembers that the mystery behind a missing stolen bottle was solved when it was found years later by her aunt. Below a section of the finished typescript reveals that Constantine builds this fragment of memory directly into his narrative and that he uses the character of the ‘Master’ to voice his own pride in having revealed this intriguing detail.

Page from typescript of Davies.

Constantine has also worked at the heart of British literary culture and the archive evidences his commitment to its promotion and production. His editorial work ranged from the grassroots development of the Oxford Magazine to the international stage of Modern Poetry in Translation and the canonical reach of The Poetry Book Society Anthology.

Front cover of The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1988 – 1989.

He was chief judge for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize and in 2004, he brought his contribution to contemporary debates on poetic theory to Newcastle University with a lecture series in association with Bloodaxe Books. This series was published as A Living Language and sought to evaluate the functions of poetry, asking what it must do to achieve lasting worth and value. Find out more about this series here; https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/a-living-language-797.

For further information about David Constantine’s work and to hear some of his recordings, use this link to access the online resource Poetry Archive; https://poetryarchive.org/poet/david-constantine/.

Mel Tuckett

Crawhall and the Big Birdwatch – January 2022

Each year the last weekend of January is time for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) annual Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s a time when we’re all encouraged to go and count the birds we see – maybe in your garden, from a balcony or window, or in a local park, and submit the results online. The initiative helps monitor the bird population in the UK.

There’s lots of opportunities to spot birds and other wildlife in the North East of England, and our archives and rare books reflect people’s interest with the natural world across history. One example of these is this fabulous bird illustrations from our Crawhall (Joseph II) Archive.

Watercolour illustration of a trio of goldfinches.
Watercolour design, likely for a decorative plate, featuring goldfinches, c.1875, Crawhall (Joseph II) Archive JCII/6/1/64, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Joseph Crawhall II (1821-1896) was a businessman, artist and patron of the arts. His artistic achievements including wood engraving, watercolours and contributions to Punch magazine. The pursuits of himself and his family contributed to the thriving cultural environment of 19th Century Newcastle.

However, the illustrations we’re highlighting here were not created by Joseph. They are pages from illustrated diaries and sketchbooks attributed to his brother, George Edward Crawhall (1821-1896). This generation of Crawhall siblings were all artists – George and Joseph but also brother Thomas and their sister Jane. George’s legacy is not as celebrated as his brother Joseph’s, but he also contributed to some of Joseph’s most famous works, including the Compleatest Angling Booke, for which George contributed the trout tail which features at the end.

Watercolour illustration of a magpie sitting in a branch.
Watercolour design for a decorative plate featuring a magpie, 17 December 1873, Crawhall (Joseph II) Archive JCII/6/1/59, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

These diaries/sketchbooks reveal George’s travel in England and Scotland between 1867 and the 1890s. Many of the images depict scenes from the North East, such as the image below of a coot and moorhen fighting in Brandling Park – just around the corner from the Philip Robinson Library, home to Newcastle University’s Special Collections and Archives.

Page from a diary containing three watercolour illustrations of a coot and moorhen on a pond.
Watercolour illustration showing a coot and a moorhen fighting in Brandling Park, 25th April 1888, Crawhall (Joseph II) Archive JCII/6/2/10, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

The diaries record many of scenes of hunting and fishing, alongside natural history studies. Birds feature heavily, although frequently under the gaze of armed hunters.

The beautiful circular designs featured in this blog post each showcase a different bird native to the UK, and were likely intended to appear on decorative plates.

Watercolour illustration of a trio of bullfinches sitting in a bush.
Watercolour design, likely for a decorative plate, featuring bullfinches, c.1880, Crawhall (Joseph II) Archive JCII/6/2/3, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Will you see any of these birds in this year’s Birdwatch?

You can read more about the Big Garden Birdwatch and sign up to participate on the RSPB’s website.

You can read more about the fascinating Crawhall family history and their relationship with the North East in this blog.