Sunday, November 21, 2010

A letter from John Henderson

Thank you Richard for posting my comments with regard to the "Imperial Tramways" weathervane. I would like to think that as part of the Book Shop refurbishment that history can be restored, so there are two choices, find the person who destroyed history and make him remove the weathervane from the building, then to paint strip it in order to restore the original metal finish appearance. The surfacing was designed to withstand weather so the coating will be under there. However as I am sure the person will not be located, I would like to hope that this task can be included in the current work by the team engaged, so 2011 will see the weathervane correct.
This complete issue raises a particular concern for me. The fifty years of evolution at Crich has a tremendous amount of effort by individuals to save history and this I see as a key responsibility of the Board, Mr Wilton and his team. We have restored many trams over the years that have subsequently received further work at the museum. People involved for various reasons, now either do not have such a high profile, or sadly have passed away. All their knowledge is a responsibility for the Library function to record.
I would like to give some examples. I was the key player in the restoration of Gateshead 5 and Newcastle 102. I was responsible for ensuring their restoration was an accurate portrayal of exactly how they should be. In the case of both trams, since my original work, several things have been lost or changed through subsequent Crich work. No one at the time took the responsibility to contact me to clarify detail. The result for example concerning Gateshead 5 is that the chandeliers have been refitted in the wrong arrangement, curtains have been removed, and window advertisement panels are in the wrong place. Painting detail regarding these cars has departed from accuracy.
The danger of course is that the archive collecting of historical data should include interviewing & recording with knowledgeable TMS members, otherwise if this does not take place then history is re-written by those who decide how things should be.
Sadly a lot of information has been lost as people have passed away. Was anything done to record all the knowledge Maurice O'Connor possessed regarding Leeds 600? Will anything be recorded by interviewing Mike Davis regarding certain Sheffield historical detail before it is too late? I bet no-one recorded detail from Dennis Waters regarding Derby 1 before he died. Has anyone recorded quality information regarding Leeds trams in our collection from Keith Terry?
Also there are issues regarding Glasgow trams with route colours. Research at the time 812 was undertaking its major construction confirmed this tram had never been a "yellow" car, but the Board stopped it being painted "blue". The excuse told to me first hand was it had to be yellow as a large batch of mugs had been commissioned for the Book Shop to sell! The Board is custodian of history and therefore must not play "god"!
Finally Richard, I find your blog to be a vital part for me to keep in touch with both past and present concerning our beloved Crich Tramway Museum (I hate such description as NTM!). Having known you now for 47 years, you have never changed your loyalty to voluntary efforts for the museum common good. Your blog tells people things as they are and not censured. It also provides the "window of opportunity" to view the past, in a thorough way not provided by the infrastructure of the normal museum communications. As for your "ban for life", this begs belief and I find totally appalling. What are people afraid of with you?
Whist my life now does not permit me to play an active role in the museum, I still feel I have a voice, and that I have played a significant part in helping to create the museum we know. Your series of photographical milestones in the development of Crich are a true reminder of what we all were working towards over the years. Members who are young or just recently active in the museum, should be forced to go through these photo pathways, so they can respect what they are now involved with.
Please ensure my name is put to these words as I am willing to stand up and be counted for my views, and not prepared to be dismissed by the those are afraid someone is questioning their empire

1 comment:

  1. Nice one John.
    As I have said in another post the current TMS administration seem to fail to recognise the importance of many of the items in the collection. I guess its all part of running a medium sized business rather than a true historical reconstruction. A difficult balance.
    My nom de plume is by the way a result of using a Google account to post on other forums where my true identity might cause me problems.