Carpet Museum Trust complete two-year project
8 June 2006
By Chris Pickford
At the Carpet Archives Centre in Kidderminster we are nearing the end of a two-year project – funded by the HLF – to arrange and catalogue the collections assembled by the Carpet Museum Trust. The Trust was established in 1981 to set up a museum to preserve the memory of the Town’s once dominant industry, the manufacture of carpets having been the mainstay of Kidderminster’s economy since the 1730s. Although carpets are still made here, the industry has declined in recent years owing to foreign competition and other factors. The Museum – which is likely to open in 2007/8 – will enable local people and visitors to explore and experience the fascinating world of carpet manufacture, its influence on design and technology and its impact on the town.
Further information on the Trust is available on the website at www.carpetmuseum.co.uk which now offers online access to the catalogue and database from the “Archives Centre” page. The CALM / DServe catalogue includes comprehensive listings of the printed holdings and museum collections, and a substantial part (say 80%) of the archival material. In addition, we have developed a detailed database of information on people, firms and places associated with the industry across the whole of the UK. This uses the authority files within CALM and it is, of course, fully word searchable by subject as well as by names and places.
Having reached this stage, we are keen to make the existence of this new resource know to all who might have a potential interest in using our collections – especially people who are interested in related aspects such as design, technology, business history and textiles. The database and catalogue should also be of use to people interested in the history of the localities within the UK where carpets were manufactured. Kidderminster has long been regarded as the “hub” of the carpet industry, and its connections with the industry worldwide are reflected in the collections.
Our Access policy and Collecting Policy – developed in consultation with other local repositories – may also be seen on the “visiting” page of the website
This work has been largely undertaken by the volunteers through whose efforts the project got going in the first place. I am intending to write up an account of the Archives Centre project – and on the volunteering aspects in particular – for the Society of Archivists Newsletter shortly. The development of the catalogue and website represents a major step forward for the Centre, and in the next phase the Trust will be looking to develop audiences and encourage use of the resources. The Centre is open to visitors now (by appointment only) and enquiries via the website – or by post – are welcomed.
Please visit our site – and encourage your users to take a look at it too if their research interests touch our area. Don’t be put off by the apparently very specialist nature of the collection. It IS about carpets, but it’s NOT – by any means – JUST about carpets!