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A welcome visit from the London & South East Milling Society

This week has seen some different events take place in the Archive so I thought I’d provide a round-up of the week’s activities to give you a glimpse into what life is like working here here, and our first encounter with a particular group of millers…

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Those of you who read the blog from Monday will know that we sadly said goodbye to Lydia as her internship came to an end. She has been working on identifying gems from the collections and the work she has produced will hopefully be appearing on the website soon. We have all enjoyed looking at the different items she has highlighted and I for one have learnt more about the Archive through her work. We wish her the best in her future studies.

Lydia’s departure coincided with the arrival of some notable guests. On Tuesday, the Mills Archive hosted a meeting of the London & South East Milling Society (LSEMS). Preparation for the day started on Monday with Nathanael laying out displays, associated with roller milling, in the Library and Founders’ Room. On the morning itself, Liz and Ron set up the hall with tables and chairs whilst the urns were filled up and tea, coffee and biscuits were laid out.

We welcomed the members as they arrived and they were able to get a first look at the Archive. We received many compliments and answered their questions about the set-up here. They were then taken across to the Hall where they could help themselves to tea and coffee and catch up with other members they may not have seen in while.

This was followed by presentations by the LSEMS and our Chairman, Ron Cookson. The LSEMS President, Nick Hinton, presented the history of the Society including the beautiful buildings that have been its home over the years. One was the Baltic Exchange building, which shockingly was bombed by the IRA in the early 1990s. 3 people died and many more were injured. The LSEMS’ own history is something we hope to help preserve here at the Mills Archive, as part of the story of milling.

Once the presentations had finished, the 20 or so members who were in attendance were free to explore the Archive and look through the displays laid out. The Library display featured the different publications held here, including The Northwestern Miller and company catalogues. In the Founders’ Room, the display showcased items from the different collections with a link to roller milling. This included Gelder & Kitchen files and large architectural drawings, the Cornwell Family Collection (featured in last week’s blog), part of Brian Eighteen’s vast collection, and the recently catalogued material on the Cranfield Brothers, Ipswich, to mention a few. From the responses we received, these displays were appreciated and enjoyed and we heard many individuals reminiscing as different items sparked off memories.

Lunch was next on the agenda after the displays had been thoroughly perused. One of the members of LSEMS had bought a buffet lunch which was enjoyed by all the attendees (and the volunteers as they very kindly left us some). This allowed more time for socialising but then their time at the Archive was unfortunately over. They left after lunch and headed to the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) where they were to spend the afternoon.

Since the excitement of Tuesday, life has settled back to normal at the Archive. Volunteers still come in daily with their different projects to work on, from sorting and cataloguing, to translating and abstracting.

And so it has been a different but productive week here at the Archive and we hope our LSEMS guests enjoyed visiting the Archive as much as we enjoy working here.