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Another personal milestone at the Archive

Hello everybody! I have some very exciting news this week… I have officially uploaded my thousandth cutting on to AtoM!

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It was a big moment for me, as it marks a point in my time at the Archive where the catalogue has taken on the form of a much bigger entity than when I was counting cuttings in the hundreds. I know a big part of this perception is psychological, but it is an altogether different feeling and makes the collection feel that much grander.

The garden party was also a huge success. For those of you who were able to attend, thank you so much for coming, we really had a great time! I did not realise how busy it was going to be, and I know that there are still so many people who were there that I was not able to meet. I hope I shall be able to see at least a few of you before my time here is up. I really enjoyed showing off AtoM in action, and the response from our guests was very positive. It only makes the work I do here more fulfilling, and the idea of a substantial collection of information made accessible becomes all the more rewarding.

I was also very pleased to be involved in a meeting for the development of the new website, and the highly productive session brought to light a lot of new potential features we could offer that would vastly improve the online user experience for visitors to the site. I hope that when the site goes live, it will allow for a space of greater interaction for our existing friends, and an easier way for people interested in connecting with us to join our family.

As far as the cuttings themselves go, I do have my usual round-up of interesting stories of the week. I got another glimpse into mills and the lives of celebrities after reading about Cobstone Mill. This mill did not have just one, but two celebrities living there! In the 70s, the mill was converted into a private residence for the appropriately named actress Hayley Mills and her husband, film producer Roy Boulting. It was also used in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Predictably, the articles focus much more on this glamorous aspect rather than the mill itself, but perhaps Cobstone Mill is one of those that really deserves this kind of attention. After a quick search online, I found out that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was not the mill’s only starring role. It has also been featured in various TV shows like Jonathan Creek, The New Avengers and Midsomer Murders, as well as more modern films like Bride and Prejudice.

Another very interesting mill I read about was Terling Mill. This mill has also had its time on the silver screen, as it was featured in the Will Hay movie Oh, Mr. Porter, but it was a sadder aspect of this mill that really caught my attention. There was an unfortunate death on the premises on 30 March 1950 when mill owner Mr. Herbert Bonner was caught in his machinery as he tried to oil it. Although I realize that working at a mill probably carried considerable risk to life and limb, this is the first article I came across that made it very stark. I felt that there was a cruel poetry in the tragedy of his death being caused by the very mill he gave his life to.

Unrelated to mills, I made an interesting discovery among our press cuttings collection. I came across a few international cuttings, and on the back of a general preservation article from 1939, I found an article about the fixing of the price of gold at £7 10s. an ounce. This was in a newspaper from Cape Town. The same article also talked about the passing of the ‘Trading with the Enemy Bill’, the ‘Legislative Assembly (Service in Her Majesty’s Forces) Bill’ and the ‘Courts Emergency Powers Bill’. After reading so many articles from local publications, it was interesting to see how far the reach of our collection actually goes, and what fascinating stories they may carry on their reverse.

Thank you all very much for following me thus far, and keep watching this space for more updates!