Bye Bye Lift

As in most university libraries, summer is the time for building works and stock moves in the J.B. Priestley Library.  The major project this year is the replacement of our antiquated and unreliable passenger lift with a modern and more robust unit.  Hooray!

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J.B. Priestley Library and ‘Commie’ Building under construction, 1970s (UNI B25)

The works mean taking the lift out of action from 12 June 2017.  We anticipate it being unavailable for much of the summer.   Visitors who have mobility difficulties should let us know so we can make alternative arrangements for them.

Keep up with the lift’s progress and our other building projects via posts on this blog, our Building Works web page, and our Twitter account.

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Join our Library! We’re seeking a Graduate Trainee

Graduates!  Want to become a librarian?  The Library at the University of Bradford is offering a great opportunity to find out more and build your skills.  We’re advertising the post of a Graduate Trainee Library Assistant.  The post is for one year and is intended for a graduate seeking pre-library school experience. The post-holder gets to experience all areas of academic library work, including Special Collections!

To find out more and to apply via our online system, search for post reference HR0034891-2 on the jobs website: https://jobs.bradford.ac.uk/

OR follow this direct link: https://jobs.bradford.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=HR0034891-2

Closing date: 6 June 2017.

Best of luck to all applicants and I look forward to meeting a lovely new colleague.

Remembering John Waddington-Feather (1933-2017)

Some reflections on the life of a good friend of ours, John Waddington-Feather, who died on 28 April.  His funeral is being held in Shropshire this afternoon (18 May).

Born in 1933, John grew up in the Lawkholme area of Keighley and studied at Keighley Boys’ Grammar School.  He received his B.A.  in English (with Italian and History) from Leeds University in 1954.  John took a particular interest in dialect studies, an area in which the university had considerable expertise.  He recalled his fieldwork:

‘I remember being pushed in the direction of an elderly farmer above Haworth – a real old Joseph – and his door opened about an inch. His gnarled face peered out and he eyed me suspiciously a while before asking, “Are ta frae t’tax?’ (Fees, 1991).

Intelligence corps rugby team July 1956

Intelligence Corps winning tug-o’-war team  at the Intelligence Corps depot, Maresfield Camp, in Sussex, July 1956.  John Waddington-Feather is second from left on the front row.  Copyright holder unknown.

John’s ‘post-graduate education’ included three months as a ward orderly at a tuberculosis sanatorium near Ilkley and national service in the Intelligence Corps and as a paratrooper.  ‘I needed compassion and a good stomach in the one; and in the other low cunning and native guile!’.  An enthusiastic sportsman, John played rugby union for Crowborough and Sussex.

After national service, John studied medicine for a year, but failed Chemistry, which put an end to his medical career.  He decided to use his English degree as a teacher on HMS Worcester, where he met his future wife.  They moved to Yorkshire where John took up a post at Salt Grammar School, and three daughters were born.

In 1969 an eventful trip across North America on Greyhound buses changed John’s life.  He was mugged, but found unexpected help: ‘I sat next to two ex-convicts newly released from penitentiary, who regaled me with a string of stories about life in prison and looked after me as I recovered’.  On his return to England, John became a prison visitor, wanting to give something back in return for the help those men gave him.  He found the work rewarding, and later decided to become a priest, thanks in part to the suggestion made by a young prisoner.   After studying theology at St Deiniol’s Library, he was ordained in 1977.  The role of non-stipendiary Anglican minister was ideal as he could continue to teach.  He retired from teaching in 1995 though continued prison visiting until very recently: ‘I believe I’m the oldest working prison chaplain in Britain, with more ‘time’ behind me than any of the men I visit.’

However, Special Collections knew John best as an author and as a J.B. Priestley enthusiast, Chairman Emeritus and Vice-President of the J.B. Priestley Society.

Like JB, John was a prolific and fluent writer, and experimented with many genres: scholarly articles, poetry, verse plays, history plays, children’s books, detective stories, historical romance and more.  Following the removal of his one, cancerous, kidney in 2001, John had to spend many hours a week on dialysis.  Writing was, as he said, a lifeline for him during these difficult times.  He used writing as a lifeline for others, for instance, encouraging prisoners to reflect and improve literacy via Poetry Church magazine, which he founded in 1997.  John’s works are characterised by his concern for others, his faith, and the inspiration he continued to draw from his Yorkshire childhood and his wide experience of life.

Wadd_1_QUI. Waddington-Feather, Quill's Adventures in Kangarooland, cover

Quill’s Adventures in Kangarooland

 

Witness the Quill the Hedgehog series, for children (and grown-ups).  Quill and his friends fight to save their world from the destructive evil of Mungo the alleycat and his armies of rats, a parallel to the fate of the West Riding’s countryside during the Industrial Revolution.  Quill’s Adventures in Grozzieland was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 1989.

Wadd_1_All. Waddington-Feather, The Allotment Mystery, cover

The Allotment Mystery

John was early to see the value of online platforms to authors and publishers, creating ‘waddysweb’ to publicise his imprint Feather Books.  More recently he found the Kindle format attracted many purchasers of his Blake Hartley mysteries, (3000+ sales per month).  The mysteries are classic light detective fiction, featuring Inspector Hartley and Sergeant Khan, up against sleaze, crime and red herrings in ‘Keighworth’.

To sum up, it was a privilege to know and work with John.  We are proud to be the home of his archive and book collection, which will ensure his works are remembered and enjoyed for years to come.

References

Fees, Craig (1991).  The imperilled inheritance : dialect & folklife studies at the University of Leeds 1946-1962 Part 1, Harold Orton and the English Dialect Survey.  Folklore Society Library.  In Special Collections, or online on the author’s website.

Quotations are taken from two essays by John, Autobiography (2009) and Post-graduate education (2012), sent in digital pre-publication form.

Links

Waddington-Feather books and archive collections in Special Collections.

100 Objects exhibition article on the story behind Quill Hedgehog.

Obituary in the Keighley News, by Ian Dewhirst.

Archivist wanted!

Archivists!  Would you like to join our small and enthusiastic team?  You would be cataloguing the papers of this chap (Dr Calvin Wells), who pioneered palaeopathology (discovering ancient disease and injury from skeletal remains).

Calvin_MCW. Calvin Wells with skull.1

Calvin Wells with skull

We’re recruiting an Archivist to work on the Putting Flesh on the Bones Project, funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust and involving work with both Special Collections and Archaeological Sciences. The post is available for 18 months from 1 June 2017 and offers a fantastic chance to collaborate with academics and conservation/museum professionals, as well as Special Collections staff and readers.  Find out more on the University’s vacancy webpage.  Do contact me (Alison) if you have any queries.

Welcome to Fashionable Yorkshire

From 1600s splendour to 1970s style, a new exhibition at Lotherton Hall is displaying wonderful dresses worn by Yorkshire women.  Visitors can discover what clothes meant to these women and what we can learn about society from their fashion choices.

Dress belonging to Mary Holden Illingworth. Designed by Worth

Dress by Worth of Paris, worn by Mary Holden Illingworth in 1881

One of these women is Mary Holden Illingworth, daughter of Bradford wool magnate Sir Isaac Holden.  Mary obviously loved fashion and several of her luxurious and stylish outfits have survived.  The image above shows a dress she bought in 1881 for her daughter’s wedding.  It was created by the famous Parisian designer, Worth, and features an opulent fabric, fringing and a train.

Special Collections has loaned Mary’s book of travels and letters she wrote to her sister Maggie which include lots of detail about her interest in fashion.  Kay Eggleston blogged about padding mannequins so they were the right shape to fit the clothes on show.   Kay discusses how Mary’s figure changed during her life: from a slender young girl to the fuller-figured mother of five children who wore the Worth dress.  But, as Kay observes, always stylish!

Fashionable Yorkshire is on show 17 March-31 December 2017.  Find out more on the exhibition webpage.  This BBC news story and this from the Yorkshire Post include fantastic images of the costumes and their owners.

People Power: Fighting for Peace

2017 offers a very rare chance to see the original sketches of the ‘peace symbol’.  Special Collections and the Trustees of the Commonweal Collection are lending them to a major exhibition at the IWM, People Power: Fighting for Peace.

Sketch of nuclear disarmament symbol,by Gerald Holtom. Copyright: Commonweal Collection.

Sketch of nuclear disarmament symbol,by Gerald Holtom. Copyright: Commonweal Collection.

Artist Gerald Holtom created the symbol in 1958  for the first Aldermaston March (organised by the Direct Action Committee); it was later adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and many other groups and campaigns working for peace, making it one of the most recognisable and powerful designs ever created.  Holtom’s original sketches are very fragile and so can rarely be shown to the public. This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for us to display them to great numbers of people for the first time.

People Power explores 100 years of anti-war campaigning in Britain through 300 objects: banners, posters, flyers, leaflets, paintings, letters … Many have never been exhibited before. In addition to the sketches, we are lending a pencil drawing of Peace Pledge Union founder Dick Sheppard by activist and artist Peggy Smith and a range of letters and ephemera relating to the anti-nuclear campaigns of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

People Power is on show at the IWM London, 23 March-28 August 2017.  Find out more on the IWM’s website.

Bradvent Calendar part 3

And here’s the last of the Bradvent calendar Days.  We really enjoyed sharing festive favourites from the archives.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Day 23

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Wonder what the &c. &c. turned out to be?  Social evening, 22 December 1903, Bradford Technical College

Day 24

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Christmas arrived at the proper time in J.B. Priestley’s Bradford: 24 December (Bright Day)

Day 25

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Merry Christmas!  Beautiful leaved poinsettia from Beautiful Leaved Plants (1891)