The Commonwealth Games Legacy

As we prepare our touring programme for the Hosts & Champions exhibition that will open on the 9th march in Trinity Church, Irvine, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides an update on some of the material she has been researching working with the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive.

The Scottish Games

During the 84 year history of the Commonwealth Games, Scotland has now had the honour of hosting this event a total of 3 times. Twice in Edinburgh for the 1970 and 1986 Games, and of course in Glasgow this past year. For 11 days Edinburgh and Glasgow came alive in a flurry of sporting events that engaged and inspired the whole country. However the effect of these Games did not disappear after each closing ceremony, instead each Games has sought to provide a lasting legacy that would continue to encourage and support the surrounding community. In particular each city has often benefited from the addition of new venues.

Edinburgh 1970

The 1970 Games is often considered the Commonwealth Games of ‘firsts’. It was the first to use metric measurements, the first to use new technology to provide an electronic photo finish, and the first Games that the Queen attended. However it also produced two purpose-built venues that continued to serve its community during, after, and for the next Edinburgh Games in 1986! These venues are the Royal Commonwealth Pool and Meadowbank Stadium.

Meadowbank Stadium

Newsletter 9, May 1970

Newsletter 9, May 1970

At the grand cost of £2.8 million Meadowbank Stadium was built to accommodate athletics, fencing, wrestling and had its own dedicated velodrome.

Meadowbank Stadium under construction

Meadowbank Stadium under construction

While this facility was purpose built, the Edinburgh Newsletters in the archive provide an insight into how this stadium was intended to serve its surrounding community after the Games had finished. As the first newsletter released states:

“This centre has been designed to be a lasting asset to the capital city of Edinburgh and the whole of Scotland”

Seen as a ‘Capital Asset’ this centre was refurbished for the 1986 Games and once again played host to a number of sporting events, before continuing to provide a facility for the surrounding sport community. It was this community that launched a petition when threats of closure became imminent (Save Meadowbank Campaign) and helped to ensure that the stadium stayed open. Today it continues to host multiple sporting events such as the Scottish Judo Open, Karate competitions and roller derby (See here for more information about current events).

Royal Commonwealth Pool

Royal Commonwealth Pool

Royal Commonwealth Pool

Royal Commonwealth Pool being finished for the upcoming Games

Royal Commonwealth Pool being finished for the upcoming Games

Costing a totally of £1.6 million at the time, the Royal Commonwealth Pool is now a listed building and has created a lasting impact, with the facility also being used for both the 1970 and 1986 Games. Recently a major refurbishment – costing £37 million – was completed in 2012,  and the pool continues to provide an exceptional facility and venue for events, continuing it long tradition of participating in the Commonwealth Games by hosting the Glasgow 2014 diving competition! Now considered one of Scotland’s key monuments of the post-war period the pool continues to host diving competitions, waterpolo championships and more (the Commonwealth Pool’s events page can be found here).

Glasgow 2014

For the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow received a number of impressive venues and additions that have now gone on to host or benefit the local community. A particular highlight was the transformation of the exciting venue at Hampden Park.

Hampden Park

Hampden Park is well known in Scotland as the home to the national football team and was once the largest stadium in Europe. While this venue is not new, it underwent an impressive transformation for Glasgow 2014 with the playing surface being raised a total of 1.9m to transform the venue from a football stadium to a track and field facility.

This venue has contributed to the Game’s lasting legacy by giving its track to another venue! As part of the Glasgow 2014 iniative to distribute sporting equipment across the country, the track is finding a new home in Grangemouth Stadium and Crownpoint in Glasgow’s East End (more can be read about this story here), adding to the legacy created by the Games that looks to encourage a world-class sporting system.

There were many more venues involved in Glasgow 2014 that are still contributing to the sporting community in Scotland, and will allow the excitement of the Games to continue! If you have any stories of your time playing sports or watching them at these venues, get in touch!

 

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‘A backward lad’ – records of the children at the Royal Scottish National Institution

The cataloguing work on the Continuity of Care project is still going on, with work well under way on the 3000+ applications. The database to the collection now holds over 1000 items. But the number of items that show the abilities of the children themselves can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Opposite is a rare example of the literacy and numeracy skills of one applicant. His name

Handwriting and long division by George Aitken, 1886

Handwriting and long division by George Aitken, 1886

was George Aitken as he was fully able to write himself, along with his date of birth. To include an example of his numeracy skills is even more unusual. In his note accompanying these samples, A J Fitch, secretary to the Institution writes:

‘I have seen this lad and have difficulty in discovering his imbecility. The boy reads fairly well – writes and does sums. He is a backward lad consequent upon elipeptic [sic] attacks which prevents his attendance at an ordinary school.’

The Institution had a policy of refusing admission to epileptics. At the bottom of the medical certificate that accompanies most of the applications is the declaration:

‘Cases of Insanity, of confirmed Epilepsy, of the Deaf and Dumb, and of the Blind, are ineligible for admission, except upon payment’.

In reality this policy was readily overlooked. As Fitch himself commented in a note to an 1889 application:

‘ you have however somewhat relaxed your rule as to epilepsy and may be disposed to look favourably’.

Although easy to dismiss this change of heart as motivated by the payments anticpated from the parents, one application from 1891  shows an other side of the Institution. Subject to fits and ‘unable to make any payment’, she was still admitted.

Schoolroom at the Scottish National Institution, c1915

Schoolroom at the Scottish National Institution, c1915

 

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Japan Week 2015 – Library display of art books

Scotland and Japan flagsDr Isao Ichige has donated a beautiful set of books, Nihon Bijutsu Zenshu (Japanese art: the complete works) – essentially a history of Japanese culture – to Stirling University.

This valuable set of books contains a comprehensive list of Japanese art objects in full colour and with detailed information for each item from throughout Japan’s long history.

Dr Ichige taught Japanese History and Archeology at Waseda University and its affiliated high school until his retirement in 2008. He is well-known in Japan for his NHK programmes (Japan’s equivalent to the BBC) about archeology and introducing his various discoveries at pre-historical excavations and sites across Japan.

Dr Ichige is a member of the Japan Scotland Association and life-long friend of its president, Dr Taeko Seki. He decided to donate the books when he learned about “Japan Week” at the University of Stirling.

The books are on display outside the Archives Reading Room in the Library.

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The Mascot Family from Victoria!

Klee Wyck from the archive!

Klee Wyck from the archive!

Continuing our introduction of all members of the Commonwealth Games Mascot family, this week we have Klee Wyck!

A large Orca – also known as as a killer whale – Klee Wyck was the proud mascot of the XV Commonwealth Games for 1994 in Victoria, Canada. Seen as intelligent, sociable and graceful, these native animals were regarded as the perfect symbol for the ‘Friendly Games’.

‘Klee Wyck’ was the name given to this mascot in the Nuu-chan Nulth language, which roughly translates to ‘Laughing One’ in english.

The Victoria 1994 Games were unique in that they marked the return of South Africa after a thirty year absence following the end of apartheid. This was also the last time that Hong Kong participated in the Games before the transfer of sovereignty from Britian to China was complete.

 

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Presenting the Mascots Family!

As we prepare for the Hosts and Champions exhibition, there is a family of mascots waiting to be introduced! Jocelyn, our Exhibition Assistant, presents a Scottish favourite…

Continuing from the introductions already given to Clyde and Wee Mannie, Mac the Scottish Terrier is the first from the mascots family to appear. Adored by children and adults alike Mac was bred in the highlands of Scotland and became an incredibly successful Scottish mascot for the Commonwealth Games 1986 in Edinburgh.

A giant Mac towers above

A giant Mac towers above

Unlike Wee Mannie, – who had been proposed as the original Scottish mascot in 1970, but was later dismissed – Mac is the first official mascot for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland that was made public. With a host of available merchandise and memorabilia Mac was reproduced as toys, pins, on tea towels, scarfs, ties and more, and has become an iconic image for the second Edinburgh Games.

A stand full of 'Macs'

A stand full of ‘Macs’

 

Mac and his memorabilia

Mac and his memorabilia

Actively displaying the spirit of ‘The Friendly Games’ Mac sent ‘Macvalentines’ to each of the member countries of the Commonwealth Games Federation five months before the start of the event. Sending all participating athletes his love, each of the 25 countires received a valentines card graced with the lovely mascots face, and inside a description of his impeccable charater:

“typical of his breed, a real friend of the family, bright eyed, intelligent, courageous, energetic, and always willing to please…The Commonwealth Family will undoubtedly take him to their hearts in 1986″

A living Mac!

A living Mac with an example of his valentines card

And indeed they did, with the famous terrier apppearing once again at the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Games and introducing each country in turn.

A Scottish terrier introduces Team Scotland at the opening ceremony

A Scottish terrier introduces Team Scotland at the opening ceremony

Stay tuned for more news from the mascot family next week!

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News from the Village

We are currently preparing our Hosts & Champions exhibition for a touring programme that will visit a variety of locations around Scotland in 2015 and 2016. In this article Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides an update on some of the material she has discovered while researching our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive.

For each of the consecutive Commonwealth Games that comes to pass there are many items and ideas that cross between countries as the process of organising such a large event becomes more established, and each new host has more examples and materials to learn from and improve upon. Those ideas, items and events that are carried on are usually some of the things most clearly remembered by those who visit the Games. These include some obvious contenders such as the opening and closing ceremonies, the Queen’s Baton Relay, the creation of unique medals, the design of a new baton and so on. However there are many things that are created during the Games that we do not always have the opportunity to see and enjoy, let alone compare and contrast against every one that has come before! However, I am in the happy situation of being able to help.

As I investigate the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive I have the happy job of going through materials from – the great majority of – past Games in preparation for our touring exhibition (#HostsandChampions and #Legacy2014) and directly seeing how things have progressed and changed. Among my many trawls through the minutes, mascots, medals and uniforms that make up this archive I have come across a great number of newsletters/bulletins that provide wonderful information on the progress of preparations, and the opinions and thoughts of the people involved. While many of these newsletters are made directly available to the public – materials that will no doubt make a re-appearance on this blog – there are several unique series that are designed to serve the Athletes’ Village and its inhabitants.

The Once & Future Voice

“It will be designed on the Olympic model, both in general construction and its stern definition of the amateur. But the Games will be very different, free from both the excessive stimulus and the babel of the international stadium. They should be merrier and less stern, and will substitute the stimulus of novel adventure for the pressure of international rivalry”. The Commonwealth Games: The First 60 Years 1930-1990. 10. Cleve Dheensaw

For those of you that went to see some of the sports and events on offer in Glasgow this past July/August, I think you will understand how this desire for the Commonwealth Games to be ‘merrier and less stern’ is a sentiment that has very enthusiastically been carried through! This desire for a friendly, jovial and participatory atmosphere is not only encouraged among the host’s people but among the athletes, and this is wonderfully highlighted through the Village newsletters that appear across the years. Variously titled Village Courier, Village Daily Bulletins, Village NewZ  (note the ‘Z’ for late 90’s cool), Village View, Village Voice (with more yet to be discovered); these publications promote events locally and within the Village while highlighting interesting information about competitors and organisers.

Edinburgh 1970

While the minutes of previous Commonwealth Game’s committees have yet to reveal the exact moment of inspiration that produced these publications, the earliest examples I have discovered appear to have a very utilitarian objective. The Village Daily Bulletin is a series of single or double A4 sheets produced for the Edinburgh 1970 Games that provide useful information on the practical elements of the Village.

British Commonwealth Games 1970 Newsletter

British Commonwealth Games 1970 Newsletter

Adorned with nothing more than a logo banner at the top, these newsletters were made available to all members of the Village for practical purposes.

Brisbane 1982

With a leap, skip and hop the next Village news I came across is from Brisbane 1982, the Village Courier, and already the differences between the two publications could not be greater. Placing a huge emphasis on photography this publication is presented much like a newspaper, with a column lay-out and regular segments. The regular segments include the ‘Village in Pictures’ – a middle-spread featuring photographs of people in and around the Village – cartoon sketches and interviews that highlight the work of administrators and organiser.

Village Courier September 22, 1982

Village Courier
September 22, 1982

Village Courier October 1, 1982 CG/2/12/2/1/11

Village Courier
October 1, 1982

Edinburgh 1986

The introduction of cartoon sketches in the Brisbane Village Courier is carried forward, with large caricatures of athletes in the Edinburgh 1986 Village View and the Game’s mascots beginning to make an appearance.

Village View 3rd August 1986

Village View
3rd August 1986

Allan Wells and Daley Thomson

Allan Wells and Daley Thomson

Auckland 1990

Next we have the Village NewZ publication of Auckland 1990 which presents some of the best examples of engagement with people in the Village, containing many personal stories of competitors and staff, and the activities and work they were engaged in within the Village (and their personal lives). Some of my favourite stories in this series include:

Blues' News

Blues’ News

 

20 January 1990, CG/2/14/2/1/5

“Amongst the array of equipment for the NZ police’s biggest operation are telepagers…However, some very senior officers, found the technology a bit overwhelming and tried to engage the cool American voice at the other end in conversation. They may not have had a very enlightening experience but have certainly got the message now on how to work the pagers”.

 

 

Small Talk

Small Talk

31 January 1990, CG/2/14/2/1/16.

“At least six of the big boys have been too much for the Village beds, which have been crushed to the floor.

Village house manager Kris Hope-Cross is not naming teams but said wightlifters had been the major culprits behind the bed collapses…Village staff have no stronger beds available, so they have to send in the standard versions and hope for the best.”

 

 

Finally we have the past year’s publication, the Village Voice. Being able to view and directly observe the changes that have been made to the newsletters across the years it is not difficult to see the many elements that have been re-interpreted for the Glasgow 2014 Village Voice. There is still a section on entertainment for the Villagers, interviews with staff and competitors, a photographic record of daily events in the Village, a discussion of results and the opportunity to share your thoughts with the paper (although this is more regularly done via text, email and twitter, rather than by letter).

Village Voice Thursday 31 July 2014

Village Voice
Thursday 31 July 2014

I will no doubt come across more of these as I investigate the archive, however we currently only have one of the series for this past Commonwealth Games 2014! If anyone does have any copies of any of the Village newsletters, or any stories about their experience of the games – in the Village or otherwise – please get in touch!

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Work Placements in Conservation 2015

Kat Saunt and Erika Freyr have just started working in the University Archives. They are assisting Elizabeth Yamada in the Wellcome Trust funded project to conserve the records of the Royal Scottish National Hospital.

Kat and Erika in the conservation room

Kat and Erika in the conservation room

The work placements have been designed for recent graduates or those about to apply for courses in conservation. They are intended to provide valuable experience of working in an archive on a large scale project in an academic environment.

Folded application

Folded application

The work requires a very high level of manual dexterity due to the degraded condition of the paper records. Each case file has to be carefully unfolded by hand before being flattened and cleaned, so that crucial repairs can be done. The aim is to stabilise the documents so that they can be safely handled by researchers and archivists.

One difficult aspect of this project is the sheer volume of paper to be treated over just ten weeks. This time constraint means that objects are treated according to their condition, and not all damage will be addressed. The goal in archive conservation is to protect the integrity of the data on each object rather than treating the aesthetics. This means that treatment is limited to dry cleaning and mending of tears. More extensive repairs, washing or alkalising can be done at a later stage if necessary, but would be beyond the remit of a project such as this.

Flattened applications
Flattened applications

Time management and allocation of resources is a constant consideration. For example, with a limited supply of pressing boards, some boxes of files are being cleaned while others are still flattening, so it is important to be mindful of the order in which the work is completed.

 

Rusted paper fasteners

Rusted paper fasteners

Almost all of the case files were held together with metal fixings which rust. Rust causes a chemical reaction in the paper which destroys the structural integrity of the sheet. Each fixing must therefore be removed, which is a delicate and time consuming task. (If fixings are necessary, brass is ideal. Please keep your future conservators in mind as you file!)

 

Once flattened, the sheets are cleaned using a latex chemical sponge. Dirt adheres to the latex better than to the paper and so it is lifted away without the need for abrasion. This is much gentler than using an eraser and much more effective than using a brush, giving the best cleaning result with the least risk to the very brittle paper.

Conservation tools

Conservation tools

The next step will be to start the process of repairing and rehousing the cleaned paper files. This will be the subject for a later blog.

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2014: End-of-year review

Phew! Well that was 2014. It was a year in which a combination of cultural centenaries, major sporting events and academic projects resulted in a huge increase in demand for our collections (and the political events of the past twelve months also kept our colleagues in the Scottish Political Archive pretty busy!) As in previous years we’ve put together an end-of-year chart of our most popular collections in 2014 by combining the information recorded in our enquiries database with the records of visitors to our archives reading room.

Interest in our most used collection in 2014 has been growing recent years (it was our third most popular collection in 2013) and it’s quite fitting that in a year when the centenary of his birth was celebrated with a Scotland-wide series of events our No. 1 is the Norman McLaren Archive. Born in Stirling in 1914 McLaren was an award-winning filmmaker whose work has inspired generations of animators and artists. The film screenings, talks, animation workshops and events presented during the year by McLaren 2014 provided a fitting tribute to his extraordinary career. We were delighted to be able to contribute to the celebrations with our exhibition A Dream of Stirling: Norman McLaren’s Scottish Dawn at the Stirling Smith.

Exhibition poster for A Dream of Stirling: Norman McLaren's Scottish Dawn

Exhibition poster for A Dream of Stirling: Norman McLaren’s Scottish Dawn

Last year’s most popular collection continued to be one of our most-used with the NHS Forth Valley Archive taking second place in our end-of-year chart. Genealogical interest in the historical records of Stirling District Asylum has remained constant with an increase in academic interest in the material also being noted. Access to this collection will be increased in 2015 with our Wellcome Trust funded project to conserve and catalogue the archives of the Royal Scottish National Hospital opening up the records of a hospital of international importance.

A new addition to our end-of-year lists sees the archives of Commonwealth Games Scotland take third spot (or should that be the bronze). In the year of Glasgow 2014 it was inevitable that this collection that documents over eighty years of participation and achievement by Scotland in the Commonwealth Games would generate a certain degree of interest! During the Games our Hosts and Champions exhibition was on display in Glasgow, providing an historical perspective on a modern international sporting event. In 2015 we look forward to putting together a touring version of the exhibition which will be updated with a selection of material from the Glasgow 2014 Games (which we are currently collecting).

Memorabilia from Glasgow 2014 recently added to our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive

Memorabilia from Glasgow 2014 recently added to our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive

Those results in full:

2014:

1. Norman McLaren

2. NHS Forth Valley

3. Commonwealth Games Scotland

2013:

1. NHS Forth Valley

2. Musicians’ Union

3. Norman McLaren

2012:

1. Musicians’ Union

2. John Grierson

3. Lindsay Anderson

2011:

1. John Grierson

2. Lindsay Anderson

3. University of Stirling

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Theories on Down syndrome in the 1930s

This blog is the third from Continuity of Care – the project to catalogue and conserve the records of the Royal Scottish National Hospital. Thanks to a grant from the Wellcome Trust, this project started in the middle of August and will be completed by July 2015.

Although very short the featured letter is of significance to scientific debate of the time. As it is out-going correspondence it is not signed but was written by Dr Robert Durward Clarkson, the Medical Superintendent. It comes from one of the correspondence files.mongols RS-2-8-2

The Dr Crookshank mentioned in the letter was Dr Francis Crookshank, author of ‘The Mongol in our Midst’. This book established the theory that ‘mongoloid’ children were a throw back to an ‘inferior race’. The evidence he provided were examples of physical characteristics shared by ‘Mongolian imbeciles’ and those of the Mongoloid race such as small earlobes and a propensity for sitting cross-legged. These features resulted from the shared distant racial history of the parents and were caused by under-development in the womb.

The book was very popular in its day and the third edition was published in 1931, the year before this letter was written. It is interesting that both Dr Clarkson and his correspondent, Dr Lionel Penrose, clearly rejected the hypothesis.  Indeed Penrose went on to do considerable research on the genetic causes of mental retardation, further discrediting Crookshank’s theory. The paper that Penrose is sharing with Clarkson was ‘The Blood Grouping of Mongolian Imbeciles’ published in The Lancet in February 1932. Unfortunately his covering letter has not survived. A later letter from Penrose to Clarkson in June 1932 thanks Clarkson for allowing him to visit the Royal Scottish National Institution and asks for Clarkson’s help in gathering data on epiloia or tuberous sclerosis.

Crookshank committed suicide in 1933.

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Wheat starch paste vs polyester sleeves

This blog is brought to you by Explore Your Archives week and is the second on Continuity of Care – the project to catalogue and conserve the records of the Royal Scottish National Hospital. Thanks to a grant from the Wellcome Trust, this project started in the middle of August and will be completed by July 2015.

The project includes funding for a conservator and Liz Yamada started in the post in September. She has already surveyed the collection and identified items which need conservation work. Of particular interest are the first two Registers of Discharges and Removals.

Page from the Register RS/1/4/1

Page from the Register RS/1/4/1

The volumes record where children were sent after leaving the Institution. They record information on the length of stay in asylum and more interestingly the condition of the child – whether recovered, relieved, not improved or incurable. As the photograph shows although all the children are discharged as ‘not improved’ the observations tell a different story.

 

But this blog entry is about the conservation of the items rather than their archival content.

discharges and removals conservation 1

Covers of the registers RS/1/4/1-2

discharges and removals conservation 2

Pages of the registers

They look very similar from the outside but could be conserved in very different ways. It is likely that the first volume, covering 1864-81, will be conserved in a conventional way: the pages will be cleaned with a latex sponge; the edges and spine folds repaired with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste; the binding re-sewn; and the old cover re-attached and consolidated so that it continues to be used as a book. The second volume, covering 1881-1915, on the other hand, is likely to be disbound, the pages put in polyester sleeves and stored in a folder with the detached cover.

discharges and removals conservation 3

Register showing edge tears

Why the difference in approach? The second volume could be repaired in the same way as the first but it would be more difficult, hence more time consuming and as a result, much more costly. One of the crucial differences between the two volumes is that the paper used for volume 13 is more brittle and as a result, many of the folds have cracked, so most of the pages are now single sheets. Another key difference is that the text is very close to the page edges and there are lots of edge tears in those areas. Very light Japanese paper would need to be used for repair so that the text is visible through it. This would not be very strong and would necessitate repairing both sides which doubles the repair time. The Japanese paper used for conservation is generally cream in colour so it will always stand out on blue paper originals. Although this is not detrimental to the preservation of the item, it is not very attractive. The repair papers could be toned blue with acrylic paints before they are applied but again, this adds to the repair time. Placing the pages in polyester sleeves will ensure that the pages can be handled without losing further information and can be preserved without the need for repair. Should it be necessary or desirable to carry out full repairs on the volume in the future, this will still be entirely possible.

Polyester sleeves are completely inert and a useful tool for the long-term preservation of many paper-based items. They protect items physically from being torn or creased and in some cases protect them chemically from items that give off damaging fumes. However, they cannot be used for everything in an archive collection. The cost of sleeves can add up quite quickly as can the weight which can impact on boxing, shelving floor loadings and archive staff who have to carry the boxes. They also add bulk, taking up valuable storage space. Polyester also carries static so it is not suitable for friable (powdery) media such as pastel, charcoal and soft pencil because it can lift the image off the paper. Sleeving items also changes the feel of the item, the smell and the overall appearance which is not necessarily desirable.

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