Monday, 14 June 2021

Wargrave Local History Society

MEMBERS were given a talk on the Berkshire Record Office at October’s meeting.

Sue Hourigan, who has worked at the office for 25 years, said there were eight factors in maintaining old documents and photographs both in archives and at home.

She explained some of the things that are harmful to preserving them.

These included not doing the  housework, which can cause silverfish, moth larvae and book lice that eat into the material, while high humidity encourages pests to grow and causes damp.

Similarly, high temperatures, as well as helping mould form quickly, can affect paint and ink in old documents and paintings, while exposure to light can cause text and pictures to fade.

Mrs Hourigan said poor handling of old documents was another risk. Even opening an old book could damage the binding and she recommended supporting it on a cushion while doing so.

Photographs were also vulnerable to the touch as they are easily torn and the acidity in the skin left by fingerprints cannot be removed once it is on the image.

Mrs Hourigan warned against “quick fixes” for old documents, such as adhesives bought on the high street which aren’t appropriate for repairs, while Sellotape and Blu-tack can cause damage.

The final risk factor was poor packaging, including photograph albums whose grip on the pictures fails after a time, leaving lines of dry glue as a permanent pattern on the image.

Mrs Hourigan said sometimes the damage was so bad that documents became unusable, adding: “If it’s worth keeping, it’s worth preserving.”

The society’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 8, when Barbara Ratings will give a talk called “Experiences as a vicar’s wife from Germany”. She is the widow of the former vicar of Wargrave, Rev Canon John Ratings, who died in 2014.

On Tuesday, December 13, the society will hold its Christmas party.

Meetings are held at the Old Pavilion in the Recreation Ground at 8pm.

For more information, call Peter Delaney on 0118 940 3121 or visit www.wargrave

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