Westminster City Archives

Westminster City Archives Archives Centre and Local Studies Library for City of Westminster We're the premier destination for exploring the social, economic and cultural history of City of Westminster.
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Nestled in a quiet street, just a stone's throw from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, City of Westminster Archives Centre houses a host of manuscript sources, historic photographs, prints, books, maps, and much more, unlocking the door to the past of our fascinating city. Our special Art and Design Collection has been recognised as being of national importance, and our extensive Theatre Collection is one of the most extensive public collections on the history of the West End stage. Our page is a great way to stay in touch with everything going on at the Archives Centre, from brand new exhibitions, walks and talks, to on-line projects and the latest additions to our collections.

Operating as usual

The marginalisation of some communities in the past can make it difficult to identify individuals belonging to them, eve...
27/02/2021

The marginalisation of some communities in the past can make it difficult to identify individuals belonging to them, even when they do appear in the sorts of records that may end up in an archive such as ours. The gay community obviously falls into this category.

In today’s book review of A Little Gay History of Wales, Tim takes a look at the work of Daryl Leeworthy.

Dr Leeworthy is a labour historian, and this comes through in the book, which is very much ‘history from below’ and has a great level of everyday detail from the relatively remote past to the fairly recent, for example: nineteenth-century court cases about casual sexual encounters in docks involving foreign seamen; twentieth-century student activism. Hence his deep delving into original archive sources in Wales when doing the research for the book. This led him also to collaborate with Norena Shopland on a research guide for Glamorgan Archives called Queering Glamorgan: A Research Guide to Sources for the Study of LGBT History, which aims to aid researchers in unearthing relevant materials.

You can view the guide in full here:https://glamarchives.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Queering-Glamorgan-28Aug2018.pdf

Many of the same methodological issues will be encountered by researchers in other archives in the British Isles, including our own. We are aware of very little directly LGBT-relevant material in our own collections, apart from within the Theatre Collection. But then we need sympathetic researchers to look for it . . .

For more on the book visit here: https://www.uwp.co.uk/book/a-little-gay-history-of-wales/

Tailored Stories: An Oral History of Saville RowThis week we are sharing the project run by digital:works working with t...
26/02/2021

Tailored Stories: An Oral History of Saville Row

This week we are sharing the project run by digital:works working with the Museum of London. Have you ever wandered down the Saville Row and looked into the shop windows of the beautiful tailors that the area is famous for and wondered what goes on inside?

This week we tell the stories behind those wonderful suits. We take you beyond those curtains at the back of the shops, down into the basements and up into the attics to meet the highly skilled tailors, cutters, fitters, finishers, the trouser makers, the coat makers, the waistcoat makers and many more of the highly skilled men and women who work as a team to make those world famous suits.

Most began work as apprentices straight out of school at 15 years old, learning the skills on the job and becoming craftsmen and women at the very top of their industry. There is immense pride in their work, but they also speak about the conflict and obstacles of working “on the Row". They talk about their skills, obscure tools of the trade, and changes to the area.

Youtube link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbSHD5uqD-Y&t=147s

You can watch the film and listen to the full interviews here.
http://www.tailoredstories.org.uk/

You can find out more about the wonderful projects run by digital:works here.
http://www.digital-works.co.uk

[Image description: Black and white photographs showing men sewing, ironing, and handling cloth]

On this day in 1809, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane burned down. This was the third of four successive theatre buildings o...
24/02/2021

On this day in 1809, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane burned down. This was the third of four successive theatre buildings on the same site under the same name. The fourth still stands, making this the oldest London theatre (site) still in use.

We are sharing today an interior view of the third building, published on the 27th of September 1809 by Robert Wilkinson. The caption reads: Interior of the late theatre Royal Drury Lane, built by Henry Holland Esq, RA. Opened with a selection of sacred music, 12th March 1794; destroyed by fire, 24th February 1809. Engraved from an original drawing by and in the possession of John Winston Esq.

Image Description: A black & white illustration of a view from a box across the auditorium, showing the very front of the stage and five ranks of galleries of boxes in a curve, with a glimpse of the stalls.

Archive Ref: F134 Drury Lane (012)

23/02/2021
William Davidson and the West End Job -The Bicentenary of the Cato Street Conspiracy

On 1 May 1820, outside Newgate Prison, in front of a huge crowd of onlookers, William Davidson and his fellow Cato Street conspirators Arthur Thistlewood, James Ings, Richard Tidd and John Brunt — were hanged for high treason. Then they were decapitated in the last brutal act of a murderous conspiracy, ‘The West End Job’ as they’d called it, that aimed to assassinate Prime Minister Lord Liverpool and his cabinet and spark a British version of the French Revolution. The Cato Street conspirators matched the Gunpowder plotters in their daring—and in their fate—but sadly their story is almost unknown by people today.

Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Fund, Westminster Community Reminiscence and Archive Group and our partners aim to use the bicentenary to raise awareness of an event that has both local and national significance. The plotters invoked Magna Carta in their defence and in our current turbulent political times this story allows us to look at how Britain's democracy has evolved.

2020 has also shone the spotlight on Britain’s colonial past and its role in the slave trade. By telling this story through the eyes of Jamaican conspirator William Davidson, we can also look at inequalities beyond these shores. We would like to thank actors Michael Lyle (William Davidson) and Gary Kane (john Cam Hobhouse) for helping us to bring this story alive. We hope the film they have helped us to make will raise awareness of a significant individual in Black British history, whose story deserves to be more widely known.

Having been convicted of committing high treason, Davidson was asked by the judge, why he should not be sentenced to death. Invoking Magna Carta, he likened his co-conspirators to the barons who had stood up to King John in 1215. In Davidson’s view, the King’s ministers could be called to account if they breached the rights of the people, and this did not amount to treason against the King himself.

The words in the films you are about to see are not those of William Davidson but are based mainly on research undertaken by our volunteers Rebecca Simons and Amber Hederer from contemporary sources. Our key source has been: An Authentic History of the Cato-Street Conspiracy,’(1820) and the transcripts of the trial that are available from the Old Bailey Online websitewww.oldbaileyonline.org. Both of which have provided contemporary accounts of Davidson’s story that I have been able to adapt as if written by Davidson himself.

To find out more about the Cato Street Conspiracy read our Blog Post: Radicalised by the Regency Ton: How the Bridgerton like excess of Regency London radicalised Life Guard John Harrison -
https://wcclibraries.wordpress.com/2021/02/23/radicalised-by-the-regency-ton/

To find out more about our project please visit:
https://www.catostreetconspiracy.org.uk​

Post by - Peter Daniel Westminster Archives February 2021

The Cato Street Conspiracy project was funded thanks to the generosity of players of the National Lottery by a £74,000 grant from the Heritage Fund.

During LGBTQ+ History Month we are highlighting the story of former Westminster resident Alan Turing, a ground breaking ...
22/02/2021

During LGBTQ+ History Month we are highlighting the story of former Westminster resident Alan Turing, a ground breaking scientist who was born at 2 Warrington Cresent, Maida Vale, where you can find a Blue Plaque today.

Alan Turing is someone who can justifiably be said to have changed the way in which we live. During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking facility and played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis.

Additionally, his work in computer science and artificial intelligence was pioneering and he developed the concept of the ‘universal Turing machine’ now seen as the principle of the modern computer.

Despite these accomplishments, his achievements were never fully recognised during his lifetime due to the prevalence of homophobia and because much of his work was covered by the Official Secrets Act.

Turing was open about his sexuality and in 1952 he was prosecuted for his relationship with another man. At his trial Turing didn't deny the charges and told the court he saw no wrong in his actions. His punishment was severe. He accepted a chemical castration treatment, as an alternative to prison.

In 2009, following an online campaign the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the government for "the appalling way he was treated". The Queen granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013. The "Alan Turing law" is now an informal term for a 2017 law in the United Kingdom that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.

Discover More LGBTQ+ stories associated with some of London’s Blue Plaques on the English Heritage Website:

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/blue-plaque-stories/lgbtq-plaques/#?theme=353&page=0

Our image from the archive is of a Honeywell mainframe computer installation in the 1970’s, a reminder of how enormous early computers were. Image ref 2322/11/5/1

Image description: Black and white photographs of a large black container, the size of a washing machine, with white lid that is open, inside you can see the mechanics and inner workings of the mainframe computer. Second image shows several of these machines in a row.

Today we have a post from our archives volunteers Jim and Margaret Garrod about the National Registration 1915.On 15 Aug...
20/02/2021

Today we have a post from our archives volunteers Jim and Margaret Garrod about the National Registration 1915.

On 15 August 1915 everyone between the ages of 15 and 65 in Britain was required to fill in a form giving their name, age, nationality, marital status and occupation. The purpose was to deal with a national labour crisis in essential industries due to large numbers of young men having volunteered for War Service. It was also used again in 1916 for conscription of those fit to serve.

After it was discontinued, most of the forms were destroyed, but those for Paddington were retained and now live in Westminster Archives, where a team of volunteers are indexing them. Most who appear in the records are of people in regular jobs, but a few stand out.

Robert Waley Cohen, for instance was a director of the Anglo Saxon Petroleum Company and the Asiatic Petroleum Company. He had played a part in amalgamating the Shell Company and the Royal Dutch Oil Co. He was awarded a KBE for his services as Oil Advisor to the Army Council. His son Bernard Waley Cohen was Lord Mayor of London in 1960/61 and his Great Grandson is Sam Waley Cohen the amateur National Hunt jockey.

Two men, Sam Peters and Walter Tree Keeble had been living in Germany at the outbreak of war and had been interned in the Ruhlebin internment camp near Berlin. They had been exchanged for Germans living in Britain.

Leopold George Kearton had changed his name from Kirschstein although his father had been a Danish citizen and had been naturalised.

Another interesting man we have come across was Thomas Belhaven Henry Cochrane. The son of the Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Thomas John Cochrane, he had joined the Navy at the age of 14. He left the Navy after 14 years and subsequently married Adela Rous, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Stradbroke. She became a Lady in Waiting to Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter. This connection no doubt led to various posts for Thomas on the Isle of Wight where Beatrice was Governor. However, all did not go well for Thomas and he lost his position when he and Adela divorced in 1911. He subsequently married Beatrice Knight and they had two children, one before the marriage.

In May 1915 Thomas was gazetted as a temporary Captain in the Army under “Special Appointments” and on his registration form he gives his occupation as “HM Censor, Post Office SML” Unfortunately it has not been possible to find out what his duties were and at what level.

National Registration was discontinued after the war but resurrected again in 1939.

Image description: Three images are photographs of the National registration forms on aged yellowing paper filled in with hand written responses.

A Plaque on 14 Buckingham Street in Westminster boasts 4 notable former residents, Samuel Pepys Is probably the most rec...
17/02/2021

A Plaque on 14 Buckingham Street in Westminster boasts 4 notable former residents, Samuel Pepys Is probably the most recognisable. Born in February 1633, He’s most famous for the diary that he kept for a decade from the age of 27.

He was an English naval administrator, Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and King James II and Member of Parliament.

The detailed private diary that Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 was first published in the 19th century and is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period.

His Diaries are filled with comments on both the minutiae of his daily life and the events of the day such as the Second Dutch War, and the Great Fire of London and the great London plague 1665

“Up; and put on my coloured silk suit very fine, and my new periwigg, bought a good while since, but durst not wear, because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it; and it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done, as to periwiggs, for nobody will dare to buy any haire, for fear of the infection,” - 3rd sept 1665 Diary of Samuel Pepys

Image from the Westminster Archive Collection ref: Gardner Box 72 27E

Image Caption: An etched black and white drawn portrait of Samuel Pepys, he is a white man wearing a long grey wig with a white scarf around his neck.

This Month is LGBTQ+ History Month. Join us for our Online Talk ‘A Great Unrecorded History’ on 26th February and learn ...
15/02/2021
A Great Unrecorded History - LGBTQ + History and Heritage

This Month is LGBTQ+ History Month. Join us for our Online Talk ‘A Great Unrecorded History’ on 26th February and learn more about LGBTQ+ identities throughout history and different cultures.

Friday 26 February 17:30 – 18:30
Book a free ticket for the talk here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-great-unrecorded-history-lgbtq-history-and-heritage-tickets-136076980913?aff=

Join us for this LGBT History Month talk with Richard Bruce Parkinson.

Are you buying flowers for your Valentine today? This is a coloured postcard of about 1910 of a watercolour painting by ...
14/02/2021

Are you buying flowers for your Valentine today?

This is a coloured postcard of about 1910 of a watercolour painting by H. Cussons, showing a smartly dressed man buying flowers from a flower girl on the steps of Eros at Piccadilly Circus.

Archive Image ref: D133.1 (103)

To mark Chinese New Year we are sharing today a print from our collection of 1827, by M Gauci. It shows two Chinese wome...
12/02/2021

To mark Chinese New Year we are sharing today a print from our collection of 1827, by M Gauci. It shows two Chinese women who appeared as part of an exhibition in Pall Mall, with their Chinese interpreter. At this time, Chinese women were usually forbidden to travel outside China.

Image ref: D138 Pall Mall (008)

Image Description: A drawing of an room with decorative Chinese art on the walls, furniture, and other small items are visible around the room. There are 3 people in the picture the male interpreter sits at a small desk, as one woman stands holding a purse, while the other woman sits playing a guitar-like musical instrument.

11/02/2021
Escaping the Blitz

Operation Pied Piper: An Oral History of London’s Evacuees

This week we are sharing the project run by digital:works working with the Imperial War Museum. The evacuation of children from London and other cities is now one of the second world war's well known facts along with Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. This week we speak to Londoners, all now in their 80s and 90s, who were among the millions of children evacuated , who talk about what it was actually like, in the process busting many myths about this period of history.

There are memories of crowded chaotic train platforms, steam trains and boxes with gas masks. There’s excitement but also the huge pain of separation from parents, not knowing where they are going or when they will come back. Gazing out of windows at unfamiliar countryside and then abrupt arrivals, standing on new train platforms, or in village halls waiting (“like cattle!”) to be selected by prospective “foster parents”. Life in the countryside with kind families, with frosty families, and sometimes with abusive adults.

There’s the joy and freedom of the countryside, new skills learned, bullying at school, and the terror of losing family members to bombing back in London, and then the feeling of finally returning home and the end of the war which, for many, was not the joyful experience that old film footage of VE day portrays.

You can watch the film and listen to the full interviews here.

Youtube link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKbzoadO4eA&t=12s

Podcast link:
https://londonevacuees.org.uk

You can find out more about the wonderful projects run by digital:works here..
http://www.digital-works.co.uk

Images courtesy of The Imperial War Museum - © Imperial War Museum

[Image descriptions: Black and white photographs of child refugees. Image 1 - shows a crowd of children at a train station. Image 2 - shows two boys ploughing. Image 3 – shows children looking into a stable. Image 4 - shows children walking towards houses. Image 5 - shows children disembarking from a train. Image 6 – shows children leaning over a gate.]

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Comments

Hi, I have in the past used parish registers kept in Westminster Archives on Find My Past. But I now find they are not there, although the accompanying index entries are. Have the registers been removed from FMP and where can I find them now?
LMA (Lisboa Metropolitan Area) and the Lioz Limestone Selection Environment Influence, by Laurindo Amorim This manuscript covers a lot of ground, delving into the history, archaeology, and even chemistry of Lioz limestone with the selection environment influence and other types of stones in Portugal. Describes the countless utilities that can be used with stone. As well as making known the role of some places in the Lisboa Metropolitan Area in the distribution of the stone in various places around the world. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087L2YX5J?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860
Does anyone remember the Grand Slam Club? It ceased trading around the mid 1960s. Jimmy Stone owned it. We are researching family history and trying to find out more.
The adventure starts here, with a picture from the Westminter Archives...
I've used the Westminster City Archives for decades. It's first-rate research facility. Its people are reliably helpful & pleasant. Thank You.
This is one of my favourite places to do research.
Am big enthusiast of the Westminster Archive - Happy New Year to all there.
About the value of libraries!
Dear Westminster City Archives This week the Lost Cousins newsletter (https://www.lostcousins.com/newsletters2/midjul17news.htm) reports on an exciting collection of 1915 National Registration - 9 boxes containing over 13000 forms. When I consulted the online catalogue I found just 2 items matching the search terms 'national registration'. So diappointing! The newsletter contributor has made a good start on a description of this collection, so please update the catalogue with some alacrity.
Searching for the removal records of bodies removed from St. Martin in the Fields.