Archive space at the Salters' Company
Volunteers Day is London Metropolitan Archives' annual celebration of its volunteers. It is a chance for us to say 'thank you' for all the hard work that our volunteers have done over the year and to show our appreciation of their continued commitment to the work of the City of London. Sally Bevan reports on this year's event which included a chance to see one of LMA's very special documents and an exclusive visit to the newly refurbished Salters' Hall.
LMA hosted the annual get-together of our volunteers from across the Culture, Heritage and Libraries Department on 29 October 2016. The day was well attended and began with an introduction and warm welcome from Geoff Pick, Director of LMA. He focussed on the challenges and changes over the year and how valuable our volunteers are in supporting our services.
This was followed by an overview of the year in volunteering by Sally Bevan, Senior Archivist with oversight of LMA's volunteering programme, which included updates on current projects as well as news of new projects such as the work being done on the Cy Grant archive. Cyril Ewart Lionel Grant served as a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He had a successful career as a singer/songwriter, later becoming a community organiser/activist, artistic director, actor, broadcaster, writer, poet, and community historian, and was the first Black person to appear regularly on British television. As part of the project to catalogue his archive, the Cy Grant Trust, in partnership with LMA, recruited a cohort of volunteers to help package the documents, identify items for potential use in outreach and also assist with a series of varied inter-generational events connecting the iconic life of Cy Grant to both younger generations and the older generations who remember him in his heyday.
After tea and biscuits, and a catch up with colleagues, there was a chance to hear about other projects from the volunteers themselves. We heard from Liz Allen, the Toynbee Hall Archivist, who spoke in depth about the history of Toynbee Hall with some fantastic stories including in 1902 when Liberal MP John Morley led a smoking debate on foreign policy at Toynbee Hall. An eye witness describes how Morley was met with a diatribe from 'a shabbily dressed' young man called Richter, who demanded that he 'look at the impoverishment' around him rather than espousing the foreign policy talk of all capitalist nations. Several days later Richter was invited back to Toynbee Hall for tea. As it turned out, 'Richter' was actually Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionary.
Geoff Pick addressing the volunteers
We then heard from David who has been working on the St Paul's Cathedral Print collection and had a chance to view some of the wonderful prints, drawings and maps which make up the collection. Finally, the volunteers had a rare opportunity to view the William Charter before it goes on display in the Heritage Gallery at Guildhall, and to hear about its history and importance to the City of London from Geoff Pick.
After an inspiring set of readings from the Keats House Poetry Ambassadors, lunch and the traditional celebration cake, it was time to make our way to the Salters' Company for a special tour of its Hall. One of the twelve great livery companies, the Salters' are based in a dramatic modern Hall originally designed by the architect Basil Spence and recently refurbished to sit sympathetically within Fore Street. We were shown around this modern interior by Katie George, Company Archivist, as well as viewing the new archive space and display.
The visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we look forward to another interesting year of volunteering within LMA and beyond.
Volunteering at LMA
Volunteering at LMA is an excellent way to learn more about London, its history and diverse communities. You will be able to develop your own skills and help to provide an essential service for everyone interested in the history of London.
If you'd like to get involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on volunteer opportunities.