Origins of Morley Community Archives

How a local community archive was set up

By Councillor Joseph E Tetley

From 1992 I have written articles concerning my life, the life of my family and the Morley District, illustrated by photographs, drawings and maps, which are stored in 6 four-lock binders.

In January 2002, Mr David Cousins, a Community Development Worker in Morley read them and asked when they were going to be published. The answer was – never. I said that I was worried as to what would happen to these journals and a large accumulation of other historical papers concerning the Morley district which were in my possession. A number of other Morley residents also had collections of this nature and they too had similar worries. I expressed a hope that Morley may eventually have a Archive Room where papers of this kind could be deposited for future research.

David Cousins arranged a meeting with Claire Dyson of the Museum and Library Council and discussions took place between us as to the possibility of this idea coming to fruition. They foundered because of the cost of renting a space in Morley Town Hall, which would be in the region of £5000 per annum.

Claire Dyson brought the West Yorkshire Archive Service into the discussions.  At a meeting I had with Sylvia Thomas (Head of the WR Archives) and her deputy Keith Sweetmore, it was stated that grants were available to fund the establishment of Archive Rooms, but the question was what would happen to the contents when the money granted was expended.  Mr Sweetmore spoke of a group working in the South Kirby area who had obtained a grant of £5000 to purchase computer equipment to scan and save documents for viewing.

At this stage, I called a meeting of some 12 or so people I knew had large collections of ephemera concerning Morley. A Steering Committee was set up and this led to the formation of  the Morley Community Archive Group.  A successful application was made to Awards for All, a Lottery Fund, and equipment and the Commanet program were purchased.  Whilst the original idea of an Archive Depository Room in Morley does not at this stage appear to be feasible, a start has been made to preserve some of the vast archive of Morley’s historical past.

David Atkinson, a founder member of the Group, was the custodian of a very large collection of Morley ephemera. When he died in 2004, he left the collection to Leeds Libraries, stating in his Will that it had to remain in Morley and made available for research.  During the recent renovation of Morley Library,  space was allocated for this purpose. The David Atkinson Archive Room was officially opened on 1st December 2006, and the Morley Community Archive Group is now based in this room.

Visit the Morley Community Archive website

This page was last updated on 29 May 2014.

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