Twenty-five years on

Local History Magazine No.3

Local History No.3 was published in November 1984 when we were coming to grips with the challenge of trying 'to strike a balance between geographical spread of the contents and the range of topics covered'. It contained four articles about museums, one in Nottinghamshire, another in Coventry and one in Surrey which operated out of a suitcase. The fourth article asked the question 'Does your local history really need a museum?' and was based on some guidance notes for 'amateur curators' which had just been published by the then Area Museums Service for South Eastern England. Twenty-five years on and they seem as pertinent now as they were then. Wallingford Museum in Oxfordshire, together with its three workers, featured on the cover.

There was was an article about '700 years of Spalding Parish Church' and a Manpower Services Commission (MSC) programme which funded research into its history, the publication of a book and events to mark the church's 700th anniversary in 1984. The MSC Community Programme in the 1980s spawned a large number of local history related projects, some of which continued to survive into recent times (in Nottinghamshire, the county's oral history collection can trace its origins to a CP project). You could argue that CP was an unwitting precursor to the Lottery, inasmuch as it demonstrated what local, community based, history groups could achieve.

The two main articles were both about local health care in pre-NHS days and were commissioned by us from local historians we knew: Adrian Corder-Birch's '100 Years of Halstead Hospital' and David Woods' 'Sister Dora and Walsall Hospital'. At a time when the government's restrictions on the budgets on public services, especially the NHS, were beginning to hurt, we wanted to remind local historians everywhere that they had 'a valuable contribution to make in reminding us all of the experiences, reason and practical idealism which eventually led to the establishment of the National Health Service'.

Local History No.3 also had an exclusive — a photograph and news of the British Association for Local History's move to a new HQ in the Mill Manager's House at Cromford Mill, Derbyshire. At the time, BALH 'felt that Derbyshire was historically and geographically well placed for the headquarters of a national organisation'.

Robert Howard

16 December 2009

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