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Just Catalogued January 2023

Posted in Behind the Scenes on 04 Jan 2023

This month's round up details all the items and collections that have recently been catalogued at the BRO and are now available to view - catalogue references are given in brackets. You can use our online catalogue to find out more about these and other items in our collections.

Boxes and printers

Huntley, Boorne and Stevens train made from biscuit tins, ref. DEX2870

We have catalogued records of Huntley, Boorne and Stevens, tin box manufacturers of Reading, 1846-1987 (D/EX2870). This firm was founded by Joseph Huntley Junior, a relative of the biscuit making family, who made tin boxes for Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits from 1832 onwards. Part of Huntley and Palmer’s success has been credited to the highly decorative and interesting tins produced by Huntley, Boorne and Stevens, a large collection of which may be seen at Reading Museum. The firm also carried out general ironmongery and contracting. Due to the Quaker beliefs of managing director Samuel Beaven Stevens, the firm would not make weapons, but they did manufacture cases for smoke bombs and some of the first steel helmets issued to British troops at the front as well as rations tins during the First World War. The business was sold to Huntley and Palmers outright in 1918. The factory finally closed in 2000.

Men and machinery at printworks Cox & Wyman, ref. D/EX2477/1/1

We were also pleased to received a small collection of records (mainly photographs) from Reading printers Cox & Wyman of Reading, c.1901-2001 (DEX2477).

Walking in Germany 

We get a glimpse of pre-war Germany in the diary of a certain Miss Jacobs of her Holiday Fellowship walking tour through Odenwald in the Black Forest and the Upper Danube valley in 1937 (D/EX2861).

walkers at a drinking fountain in Germany, 1937 ref. D/EX2861/1

Swastikas and clergy: Berkshire families

We have received a small miscellaneous collection which includes: papers of the Waterer family of Wyvols Court, Swallowfield, 1902-1928; papers of Muriel Friend, a registered masseuse who was a member of the Joint Voluntary Aid Detachment Committee in 1914, and part of the mysterious but dubious sounding Swastika Sales Scheme in the 1930s; and photographs of Empire Day celebrations in Maidenhead, 1923 (D/EX2490).

We have also received a small collection of pedigrees (family trees) for various families from Berkshire and Oxfordshire, compiled by A. Stephens Dyer c.1943-1952 (D/EX2690). This collection also includes a nice print of portrait of the Revd William Twisse of Newbury, based on an original by T Trotter in Newbury Parish Church. Dr Twisse was was a celebrated Puritan theologian with very local links; he was born in Speenhamland in 1578 and was rector of Newbury, 1620-1646 and served as Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1643, as the Civil War raged.

Portrait of the Revd William Twisse, ref. D/EX2690/2

From war prayers to drag: music and entertainment in Berkshire

We have catalogued the papers of the Revd Arthur Eric Ouseley Norman, 1893-1976 (D/EX516)Eric, as he was generally known, was a gifted pianist and composer. He took a degree in music from Worcester College, Oxford, in 1914.  He composed music throughout his life, and his manuscript scores form the bulk of his archive. His work ranges from the religious to the humorous. The composition for which he was best known was the Children's War Vesper or Hymn, 1918.

We have also received a small collection of programmes for theatre productions, musical performances and events in Reading and Wokingham, c.1970s-1986 (D/EX2706); plus programmes of performances by Reading School Operatic Society, 1937-1939 (D/EX2848). Music is also represented by programmes for Opera at Bearwood, 1998-2005 (D/EX2822). This amateur musical society produces annual operas and concerts at Bearwood Theatre, Winnersh, the theatre at Bearwood College (now Reddam House School).

Papers of Violet Lovell of Reading (ref. D/EX2686) consist mainly of her scrapbooks relating to the comic music hall, radio and film act performed by Arthur Lucan (in drag as the eponymous Old Mother Riley) and his wife Kitty McShane as Old Mother Riley's daughter Kitty, from c.1934 to 1954. Violet was a devoted fan of the act and particularly of Kitty's singing of Irish folk songs. Of wider interest is her set of copies of The Reading and Berkshire Review, 1951; this was a locally published magazine.


We have also been given an almost complete run of Catalyst, a non-profit magazine published in Reading between 1989 and 1991 (D/EX2800). It included what's-on listings and reviews of entertainment and arts events and activist events and groups, candid reviews of local pubs, interviews with local or visiting musicians/celebrities and local officials, and articles on local life and politics with a left-leaning, pacifist, green and sometimes anarchist bias. It was initially published fortnightly, moving to monthly in 1991.

The one issue missing is no. 40 – does anyone have this stashed away at home? We also have a calendar produced for 1991, illustrated with black and white drawings by local artists, of variable quality. We started to share some of the highlights of Catalyst in an online blog comparing it to another newsletter, the Reading and Berkshire Review. You can read the blog online.

You can find out more about any of the records mentioned here and more, by searching our online catalogue. Simply enter the collection references mentioned above into the Catalogue Reference field.