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What is in the catalogue?

The records held in St.Helens Local History and Archives Library are extremely diverse, providing an unparalleled resource for the study of the locality. Some records are of regional and national significance and provide researchers with an opportunity of examining early examples of local government as in the case of the Parr Papers (PAR) or the rise of the new industrial aristocracy in the Sherdley Estate Papers (SE).

Here are some of the key areas of the catalogue and some examples of individual collections

  • Employment: The apprenticeship indentures in the Richardson collection (MRI) show many of the rural crafts that existed in St.Helens during the eighteenth century such as blacksmiths, carpenters, clay potters or cordwainers. Details of industrial employment can be glimpsed in the Birchley Colliery collection (BCL) which contains miners’ wage books.

  • Health: The St.Helens Medical Officer of Health reports (SMH) highlight local conditions during the Victorian period when matters of health and the effects of pollution became a national concern. Methods used to alleviate some of these problems are referred to in the reports of Providence Free Hospital (PRO), Rainhill Asylum (SRH) and St.Helens Hospital (SHH). For those who preferred self-medication the archives of Beechams Pills Ltd. (BP) give an insight into the type, price and methods of sale of some well-known patent medicines.

  • Industry: The records of heavy industry may be glimpsed in the archives of Forsters Glass Co. Ltd (FO) or John Roby Ltd. Brassfounders of Rainhill (RO). The assets of the Evans coalmining dynasty (EV) are revealed in correspondence, leases and land sale documents stretching from St.Helens to Shropshire, Wales and Algeria. The price of Acme wringers or domestic stoves and fires can be discovered in the trade catalogues of C.W.Grundy, ironmongers (G).

  • Leisure: Records of leisure activities are well represented in the archives of Rainford Cricket Club (RCC) or Billinge and Winstanley Townswomen’s Guild (BWT) or St.Helens Morris Men (SMD), while the financial ledgers of the performances at the Theatre Royal, 1897-1906 (TR), the programmes for St.Helens Show (A73.9) and many other commercial events are well represented.

  • Music: The Sir Thomas Beecham music collection now forms one of the United Kingdom’s premier holdings of such material. It includes books (BEB), concert reviews (BECR), newscuttings (BECU), programmes (BEP), photographs (BEPH), gramophone records (BER) and record reviews (BERR).

  • Transport: The eighteenth century Parr Highway Accounts (PAR/2/4) form an interesting contrast with the modern papers and plans of the St.Helens and District Tramways Company (LT). The Edward Borrows collection of nineteenth century locomotive engine drawings (F) is another interesting set of records concerning transport.

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