This year we’re once again taking part in the Explore Your Archive campaign. From 10-15 November organisations across the UK are taking part in the campaign to celebrate the UK’s archives and heritage. Penny McMahon, Archives and Records Assistant, tells us a little about what you can expect.
All of the BPMA’s Explore Your Archive activity will take place via social media, so look out for #explorearchives on our Twitter and Facebook pages, and right here on our blog. Every member of the archive team has selected one of their favourite records from the collection. This includes original artwork, snippets about the Post Office using animals in its workforce and a first-hand account of the Great Train Robbery.
Here are some of the highlights:
On Monday 10 November, Director Adrian Steel will be taking over Twitter sharing what goes on behind the scenes in our archive and here at the BPMA.
On Thursday 13 November, Head of Cataloguing Gavin McGuffie will also be giving the public an opportunity to choose a box in the archive to investigate, in our ‘pick a shelf any shelf segment’. We will put up a list of shelf numbers alongside a photograph of the shelf and you can choose which box he’ll look at.
Lastly we have been hard at work in the kitchen recreating Trench Cake. Trench cake was devised as a way of sending a cake to loved ones on the Front that would travel and keep well, without using up too many precious rationed goods. I first learned of Trench Cake when a member of the Great British Bake Off production team asked us how much it would cost and how a cake would be packaged during the First World War. We have baked several examples of the cakes, brought one in for staff at the BPMA, sent one to Scotland and one to France. Fingers crossed they arrive in one piece! Look out for a follow up blog to see how we got on.
Do you want to have a go at trench cake? We’d love to see your attempts – tweet us your pictures and tell us how it tastes!
– Penny McMahon, Archives and Records Assistant
Do you like what we’re doing on our website, online catalogue, podcast, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and this blog? Is there something you’d like us to do online in the future?
We’re conducting an online survey of our audiences which will help us improve our services. Those who complete the survey will go into the draw to win a voucher from Amazon worth £50.
Man writing at desk (POST 118/5388)
Take the survey at www.postalheritage.org.uk/survey. The survey closes 19 September 2011.
We often receive questions about the history of the postal service via our Facebook page or Twitter. Yesterday @jamespurdon asked “anybody know when house numbering begins in UK?” We asked Archives Assistant Penny to find out, and as so often with these questions the answer is a bit complicated.
A postman delivers mail to cottages in North Street in Brighstone, Isle of Wight, 1937.
The first recorded instance of a street being numbered is Prescot Street in Goodmans Fields in 1708. By the end of the century, the numbering of houses had become well established, and seems to have been done on the consecutive rather than the odd and even principle which we have now become familiar.
None of this was regulated and numbering systems varied even in the same street. For example about 1780, Craven Street in the Strand had three sets of numbers. There were irregularities everywhere, and the naming of streets and parts of streets was left to the idiosyncrasy or whim of the owner.
Regulation did not take place until 1855 with the passing of the Metropolitan Management Act. For the first time the power to control and regulate the naming and numbering of streets and houses was provided for and given to the new Board of Works. Under pressure from the Post Office the Board started work in 1857 on the simplification of street names and numbering by working through a hit list of the most confusing streets given to the Board by the Post Office.
Do you have a question for us? Don’t forget to join us on Twitter on 24 August when you can tweet our Director.
What does the privatisation of Royal Mail mean for the Royal Mail Archive?
How do I get a job in Museums and Archives?
What’s the best thing in the BPMA collection?
All these questions and many more could be answered on Wednesday 24 August when our Director Dr Adrian Steel takes over the BPMA Twitter account (@postalheritage). Join the conversation from 2.30pm and ask Adrian anything you like.
Adrian Steel is a Political Historian and Archivist with a PhD in 1920s London Politics. He has been employed at the BPMA in a number of roles since 2003, notably as New Centre Project Manager, and most recently as Director.
If you don’t use Twitter you can also post questions for Adrian on the BPMA Facebook page or send them to email@example.com. Otherwise, join us on Twitter on 24 August to see the best questions answered – prizes may be awarded too!