Barnsley Archives’ Conservation Programme

8th August 2023

Barnsley Archives and Local Studies have an ongoing conservation programme to ensure that the 4000 collections in our custody can still be safely used by researchers many years, decades and centuries from now. This programme is a crucial part of the work we do and is supported by Barnsley MBC, the Friends of Barnsley Archives and the Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust. The final item that was conserved during 2022-3 was from our collection of local court records.

As a Place of Deposit for public records, appointed by the Lord Chancellor, one category of records held by Barnsley Archives is local court records. These records describe and detail the dispensing of justice in the Barnsley area for over two centuries. One of the earliest items in our main court collection is a Magistrates’ Register of Complaints on Oath which dates back to the very early 1800s. Such was the damage to this volume, though, that it could not safely be made available to researchers. The back cover was missing, pages had become detached, and the volume was quite grubby. As part of our conservation programme, we were able to commission some specialist conservation work. Principally, new covers were made and attached, ensuring the original labels were incorporated. A new spine was constructed, detached pages were put back in place, and the volume was extensively cleaned. Finally, a protective archival box was made to offer a further layer of protection. The volume can now be safely handled and used by researchers. Without our conservation programme, such items would likely deteriorate further, jeopardising their long-term survival.