Archives are amazing. Without them we could not study our personal histories or the histories of our local communities. There would be no historically rich novels and films and we wouldn’t know anything about the lives of our predecessors.
In celebration of Knowsley’s wonderful collection the Archive Resource for Knowsley (ARK) is holding an Open Day on Tuesday 21 November as part of Explore your Archive Week, from 20 to 26 November.
Join the ARK for a guided tour and explore some of the most precious treasures from the archive. There will also be a chance to see ‘behind the scenes’ and learn how materials are packaged, stored and conserved ensuring Knowsley’s heritage is preserved for future generations.
What will you discover?
The collections give us a window into the social, political and economic heritage of the borough, with documents dating from as far back as the 13th century.
Manorial records can tell us how trade was conducted and regulated. A document from 1 August 1755 reveals the location of Prescot’s new leather market. It was located in the cellar under the Court House, which was itself demolished in the early 1960s.
Leisure activities and entertainment are well represented, for example, Mr Watkins’ music book is a unique example of a personal collection of traditional folk tunes dating from the mid-1800s.
The wartime experiences of our communities are also collected in the ARK, with audio and video recordings bringing the official documents alive by giving the people who experienced the war from both sides of the barbed wire a voice.
Explore Your Archive Week film show
As part of Explore Your Archive Week the ARK will show films with a Knowsley theme on Friday 24 November. ‘Film Friday’ will include footage from across the borough as well as the short films produced as part of ARK’s Heritage Lottery Fund supported community engagement projects.
The HLF films are a fascinating watch. The story of Erich Kirste, the last surviving Prisoner of War to have been held at the WWII camp in Huyton, is enlightening and moving. Told in his own words it charts his journey from a teenage boy in Poland before the outbreak of war, to finding himself behind enemy lines, his voyage as a Prisoner of War to America, back to Europe and eventually finding himself in Huyton.
The ARK’s ‘Chuffed to Bits’ film is a wonderful watch. Pupils from St Anne’s Catholic Primary School in Huyton enthusiastically bring to life the fascinating story of the world famous Liverpool to Manchester Railway line which runs through the heart of Knowsley. The children clearly enjoyed learning all about the opening of the line, the impact it’s had on the local area and how it quite literally changed the world. It’s certainly a must see!
‘The Malayan Connection’ is another very moving film, capturing the first time a group of former students of Kirkby’s Malayan Teacher Training College travelled back to the town from Malaysia and other parts of the world. Their visit coincided with the 60th anniversary of Malaya’s independence which was first announced to the world in 1956 from the Malayan Teacher Training College in Kirkby. Former students and teacher’s share cherished memories of a time and place where lifelong friendships were made, future spouses met and new cultures and customs experienced.
Drop-in family history sessions will take place in the borough’s libraries throughout the week.
The friendly staff on the family history helpdesks are experienced in a wide range of areas, including local and family history, reading and understanding old documents and researching using on-line sources. They’ll be able to help with your enquiries and help you get started or make the most of your family history research.
Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Wellbeing and Customer Services, said:
“With thousands of documents, volumes, photographs, maps and more to explore, why not visit the ARK and find out more about the hidden histories of the borough.
“Explore Your Archive Week also provides a great opportunity for residents to find out what happens in the ARK and the invaluable work that goes into collecting, keeping and sharing the borough’s history.”
As part of the week schools are invited to book for special talks and events in the ARK and libraries, teachers wanting to find out more or book on should contact the ARK.
ARK Open Day
Tuesday 21 November
10am to 1pm & 2pm to 4pm
The ARK, Kirkby Centre
Friday Film Show
Friday 24 November
10am to 1pm & 2pm to 4pm
The ARK, Kirkby Centre
Family History helpdesks
Tuesday 21 November, 10am to 1pm, Prescot Library
Tuesday 21 November, 2pm to 5pm, Stockbridge Library
Thursday 23 November, 10am to 1pm the ARK
Friday 24 November, 2pm to 5pm, Halewood Library
Saturday 25 November, 10am to 1pm, Huyton Library
For further details about any of Knowsley’s Explore Your Archive Week events please contact the ARK on 0151 443 4365 or email email@example.com