We are sad to report the loss of two valuable members of the Antiquarian Council in 2016, Eric Foster and Alan Rose. Eric was a past President of the Society and in his later years devoted his time to the transcribing and translating of medieval documents, his latest being recently published by the Ranulf Higden Society. Alan was a long standing Hon.Treasurer and Council member who is best known for his authoritative histories of Methodism and bibliographical knowledge. Both will be missed.
On a happier note we were pleased to mark Morris Garratt’s exceptional term as President, during which he served an extra year, with the presentation of a book token.
An excursion to Wardley Hall took place in November. Wardley Hall is the official residence of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Salford and is situated at Worsley. There was a welcome drink on arrival and then a conducted tour. The group were intrigued by the skull of St Ambrose Barlow and the story of his life, a portrait of him can be seen in the chapel.
This was followed by a day school on Catholic history at the Salford Diocesan Archives. Speakers included David Lannon, the Salford Diocesan Archivist, looking at aspects of religious belief in Elizabethan Manchester, Lawrence Gregory talking about the Trafford family of Trafford, Michael Herbert giving an account of the political history of the Irish in Manchester from the 1790s, and Bernadette Hyland speaking about Mary Quaile, an important trade unionist, organising women workers through the Manchester and Salford Women’s Trades Council. The day ended with an introduction to the Salford Diocesan Archives and a look at the stunning modern church of St Augustine’s.
Thanks are due to Morris Garratt, Steven Parkinson, David Lannon (and the ladies of St Augustine’s for lunch) for organising these events.
Volume 109 (for 2013) of Transactions was published after a series of problems with the printers, thanks to Steve Collins, and contains the usual varied selection of articles and reviews. Material for Volume 110 is in hand. It is hoped that we can bring the sequence up to date by publishing Volume 110 for 2017 (and miss out the intervening years, following precedent set by the Society).
David French has continued his work on the website and subscriptions and offprints can now be paid for by Paypal. A search box has been added. A full list of Transactions and offprints for sale is on the website, thanks to Margaret Edwards, Morris Garratt and Alice Lock. Margaret Edwards also revised the links section of the website.
Thanks are due to Robert Stansfield for his comprehensive revision of the Society Rules to bring them into line with Charity Commission guidelines.
The Society was represented at the Manchester Histories Festival.
A joint visit with Middleton Civic Association to Clayton Hall provided a very enjoyable chance to see the house and be shown round by the enthusiastic volunteers.
A successful day school was held with the Gaskell Society at Gaskell House. A packed day included guided tours of the house and a chance to see round the garden with one of our members, Jackie Tucker, who is a volunteer there. The excellent speakers included Janet Allan, Alan Kidd, Anthony Burton and Steve Collins. An extra session was provided by Mark Watson who showed some of his engravings of Manchester in the Gaskell era.
Production of Volume 109 of Transactions suffered an unforeseen delay when we earned that, due to illness, Janet Allan was unable to act as designer, and efforts to find a replacement designer were unsuccessful. To bring members up to date, early in 2016 we learned that our printers, Doppler Press, had ceased, due to the retirement of the owner; however, he had transferred the goodwill of his business to The Printing Place at Chelmsford, with whom we quickly established a good working relationship, and work on Volume 109 is now proceeding. The editor has material in hand for Volume 110.
A small subgroup has been set up to look at the website and we have been lucky to have advice from David French who has set up a draft new website which we hope will soon be available to the public. It is a chance to promote ourselves and our events, improve sales of offprints etc and allow electronic access to back copies of Transactions. It is hoped that eventually we will be able to allow access to Transactions five years after publication. An index to recent volumes and some very old volumes digitised by other organisations are already available.
Thanks are due to Robert Stansfield for his hard work on revising the Constitution, he is now working on a revision of the Rules.
The membership list has been updated and several problems with institutional members have been sorted out.
The stock of offprints and transactions transferred to Salford Diocesan Archives has now been sorted out by a group of volunteers.
Morris Garratt reported that, as requested at the last AGM, membership figures had been compiled thanks to Robert Stansfield. The suggestion that events should be held jointly with other groups had been followed up. Firstly by a joint event with the Victorian Society which had, unfortunately, not been very well publicised within the Society, but which had proved a very successful and interesting day, thanks to Mark Watson and John Tiernan. A second joint event with the Royal Northern College of Music had been well publicised but had not attracted enough delegates to run, Morris wished to thank the College for not enforcing their cancellation charges. Two initiatives had resulted in substantial savings for the Society, the change of venue for lectures to St Augustine’s Church and the introduction of softback binding for the Transactions. Attendance at lectures is still a problem and more Council members are needed. Morris also reported on the death of Jean Ayton, a Society member and the former Archivist at Manchester. He thanked Council members and representatives on societies for their support.