Volunteering, studying and conservation

I’m Helen Lindsay and I have been a volunteer at Bury Archives since April 2009 and in January 2010 I started studying at the University of Dundee for an MLitt in Archives & Records Management by distance learning. 

I’ve done a variety of projects here at Bury and the Bealey papers have given me an opportunity to see the cataloguing of a collection from the very beginning, something I will hopefully do myself one day. Many items are being revealed for the first time after years of being in storage so it’s quite interesting to see them come out of their wrappers. 

An opened bundle of bills and letters still in their brown paper wrapper. Notice the original string on one small bundle and the black wax seal which fastened the bundle together for many years.

An opened bundle of bills and letters still in their brown paper wrapper. Notice the original string on one small bundle and the black wax seal which held the bundle together for many years.

As part of my course I recently studied preservation and one of my assignments was to complete a preservation survey. This involves finding out about the documents’ physical condition and making an assessment of any conservation needs. 

Maps and plans which have become torn and very fragile with age.

Maps and plans which have become torn and very fragile with age.

The Bealey papers was an ideal subject for this task and it was exciting to help the project archivist open the contents of the different envelopes and packages, which date mainly from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries.  So exciting that I spent rather a lot of time reading them and admiring the beautiful letterheads (a particular interest of mine) rather than noting their condition! 

The label on the plans for the orchard by Richard Bealey.

The label on the plans for the orchard by Richard Bealey.

The opportunity to combine work on a ‘live’ cataloguing project whilst studying the subject via distance learning has proved invaluable; I have had access to original archive material in order to conduct my survey, and some hidden gems have been discovered.  One example is Richard Bealey’s detailed plan of the trees for his orchard.  He was a busy man, yet finding the time to do this in between running a Bleachworks, founding a school and encouraging Methodism in the area shows the energy that they all seem to have had in those days. 

Description of trees on plans for Richard Bealey's orchard. They seem to be mostly varieties of apple and pear trees.

Description of trees on plans for Richard Bealey's orchard. They seem to be mostly varieties of apple and pear trees.

Finally, my own personal link to the project is that the hospital which was later founded by Richard Bealey’s son, Adam Crompton Bealey. This became a maternity home which is where I was born…but I won’t tell you when, you will have to look it up!

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About bealey

Bury archives has employed a professional project archivist, Gillian Paxton, who is sorting through the papers of the Bealey family and their company The Bealey Bleachworks based in Radcliffe near Bury. These records are being catalogued so they can be made available to the public.
This entry was posted in Archive Skills, The Bealey Papers. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Volunteering, studying and conservation

  1. JohnnyFox says:

    I was also born at Bealey’s and it’s fascinating to see any information about it. Hope you’re still finding the work rewarding.

  2. Richard Bealey says:

    My name is Richard Bealey as well, could there be a link as I was born in Exeter Devon UK.

    richard.bealey5@btinternet.com

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