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Dorset History Centre News November 2019
Welcome to November's Newsletter! Autumn is now well underway, with the colder mornings and darker evenings becoming common again, and Christmas appearing ever closer on the horizon. At Dorset History Centre we continue to work hard, and there are lots of things happening as we count down to Christmas! In this month's bumper edition: Further important information about our building works in November Information about an exciting new purchase Find out how you can get involved in oral history projects Read about some of the patients who lived at Herrison Hospital Introducing our new Project Archivist Recent accessions November closure period: Tuesday 5 November - Friday 22 November
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Please note that there will be no access to original archives in the search-room between these dates. Access to the local studies library and family history resources room will be unaffected. The centre will be closed on Saturday 16 November. There will also be some disruption to services between Tuesday 26th November and Friday 29th November. Please contact us with any queries on how the upcoming work will affect access. News from Dorset Archives Trust
Thanks to generous support from Dorset Archives Trust and a grant from the Friends of the National Libraries, Dorset History Centre was recently able to purchase some fascinating records and photographs relating to the naval and maritime history of Portland. Most significant within the material are a series of photographs, some of them in the form of original glass plate negatives showing the very busy naval harbour and its range of installations. In addition, and perhaps most interestingly, are the original specification and pricing for the Portland breakwater extension, dated 1897. The breakwater was required in part to protect the base against torpedo attack, which by that time was clearly regarded as a serious threat to the integrity of the fleet. The volume provides a detailed breakdown of materials and labour, with the total price quoted for the breakwater as £507,199, although the total cost of the two new breakwaters, which took some six years was reputedly £652,000. By contrast, according to the schedule of rates for employment on the project, a skilled labourer was paid the sum of 7d per hour.
An official diary which was purchased as part of this collection relates daily events during construction. Daily weather conditions are recorded, along with the number of men involved in construction. On 24 March 1902, during ‘rough weather’, 718 men were at work and 868 tonnes of stone was moved into place. Overall, this material provides a fascinating insight into the vital role that Portland once played in the country’s southern naval defences and provides detailed evidence of the gargantuan cost and effort in building one of the county’s most visible maritime features.
Get involved in an exciting Oral History Project
We are supporting a national project to record oral histories about the NHS to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the organisation. If you would like to be involved, or know more about the project, please send an email to the address on the poster above.
The Patients of Herrison Hospital
We are delighted that the 12-month programme to catalogue the archive of sculptor and artist, Dame Elisabeth Frink is now underway. Archivist, David Johnston-Smith (who had previously worked for the Dorset History Centre in 2018) began work in October and is currently familiarising himself with the collection and developing ideas for catalogue schemes. The archive consists of over one hundred boxes of mainly photographic and paper records. There will be much more to say about this exciting project as it develops over the next year, so watch this space!
Meet our new Project Archivist
We are now over half-way through our project to catalogue the records of Herrison Hospital. Our Project Archivist has been working hard to record much of the collection, and fascinating stories are regularly being found. Earlier in the year, one of our work experience students had a look at some of the people that lived at Herrison Hospital...
Recent Accessions
We have received 29 accessions of archival records in September and October. The following are just a few of the highlights. Acc. 11180 - Vintage posters advertising Dorset Steam Fair, Steepleton Fete, Bridport Motor Cycle Scrambling, Cerne Abbas and Burton Bradstock fetes, West Dorset Conservative Associate Christmas Fair, and Bridport Co-operative Society ordinary general meeting. Acc. 11188 - DVD's relating to Mill Street Housing Project, Dorchester. Each DVD provides a story, narrated by David Forrester which highlights the lives and living conditions of people who lived around the Mill Street area of Dorchester. Acc. 11238 - Family photograph albums of Dr. Fisher, doctor to Thomas Hardy in the early 20th Century. If you have any documents, or digital items you wish to deposit with us; or are just after some advice on storing your records, please get in touch.