Book reviews — December 1989
A BOX FULL OF ROLLS — An Autobiography by Frank W Holland, founder of the Musical Museum
Known to many GLIAS members for his fascinating demonstrations of mechanical musical instruments at the Musical Museum, Brentford, I am sure that when the full realisation dawns that Frank is no longer with us (GLIAS Newsletter October 1989), we shall turn to this booklet, which emanates something of the spirit of this singular man. He originated in Gravesend, the son of a Trinity House channel pilot, and on leaving school was apprenticed to B.T.H. Rugby, where his interest grew, in things electro-mechanical. He worked for R.C.A., installing sound systems in cinemas and when World War II came was transferred to the Ministry of Works to help keep going the electricity supply to factories and essential services through the difficult period of the Blitz. Later he became a specialist in heating for manufacturing processes, using radio frequency techniques. As Frank writes, 'now just think of the number of microwave cookers there must be in use today'.
It was in Canada that the player-piano bug really took hold of him. In the late 1950s no-one was taking much interest in the reproducing player piano and Frank developer tastes for other mechanical musical instruments too and began to form a collection. In 1959 Frank was instrumental in setting up the. Player-Piano Group. Lack of space for his collection eventually led to a disused church, St. George's, Brentford, which of course still houses the museum Frank set up, (despite the advice of the Science Museum). Perseverance led to widespread recognition and in 1979 he was awarded the MBE of which he was particularly proud.
This book contains, numerous accounts of the amazingly ingenious instruments acquired by Frank — exquisite reading for the full-blown Mechanical music buff. You may not believe all the anecdotes: for instance Frank claims that crates sent to him from America addressed simply 'Holland, London' arrived at his door with no problem. (He never liked the 'new-fangled' post codes introduced later). Perhaps he was well-known earlier than he thought. With a delightfully characteristic photograph on the cover of Frank holding his MBE this booklet can be warmly recommended to GLIAS members. Look out for it in the bookstall or send £1.95 (this includes-post and packing,) to Tom Smith, 74 Lord Warwick Street, London SE18 5QD. BOB CARR
LONDON LOCAL ARCHIVES
£2.75 Any GLIAS members who regularly visit libraries around the capital will appreciate this new edition of 'London Local Archives' which lists all London local authorities and their archive repositories, giving details of opening hours, facilities and most important, how to get there. I was surprised to see how some boroughs provide far fewer resources for viewing, their local history records, than others. This booklet then will let you know how to make the most of those resources and to avoid wasted journeys.
Copies are available by post for £3.10 (including postage) from. GLAN c/o Archives Section, Bromley Central. Library, High Street, Bromley, Kent BR1 1EX. Please make cheques payable to GLAN and there is a discount available for those wishing, to make multiple orders for resale. SUE HAYTON
£3.95 In his novel 'Oliver Twist', Charles Dickens set Fagin's Den in Clerkenwell — for a very good reason. Clerkenwell (now in the modern Borough of Islington), an area of slums and rookeries, was one of the most lawless parts of London in the 19th century. Islington has also been the scene of a number of infamous murder cases, including that of Dr. Crippen.
This book is available from the Islington Archaeology and History Society, (tel: 833-1541), also from Islington bookshops, libraries, and the Museum of St. John, St. John's Lane, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4DA.
THE ENGINEERS: A History of the Engineering Profession in Britain 1750-1914
By R.A. Buchanan, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, June 1989, Price £25.00 This book was published in July 1989. The publishers' blurb says: 'This book addresses an important and topical series of questions in modern British society about the role of engineering, the status of engineers and the function of their professional institutions. This study does historical justice to the significance of professional institutions of engineers in Britain and places these institutions end the engineers who composed them in the social con text of the evolution of industrialisation since the middle of the eighteenth century.' At £25 this is a book to look at before deciding to purchase.
I recently received the 1989 Batsford catalogue of books for archaeologists and local historians. The following titles may be of interest to members:
LOCAL HISTORY, A HANDBOOK FOR BEGINNERS. By Philip Riden. Paperback £9.95
RECORD SOURCES FOR LOCAL HISTORY. Philip Riden. Paperback £9.95
MAPS FOR LOCAL HISTORY. Paul Hinde. Paperback £12.95
PHOTOGRAPHS AND LOCAL HISTORY. George Oliver. Hardback £14.95
INVESTIGATING OLD BUILDINGS. Lance Smith. Paperback £9.95
FARM MACHINERY. 1750-1945. Jonathan Brown. Hardback £14.95
ALAN GODFREY MAPS
This series continues to expand with now over 100 titles covering London. An important new title is: 7.10 CRYSTAL PALACE (Kent Series). Other new titles are:
19 HIGHGATE 1913
22 WALTHAMSTOW MARSHES 1913
49 EUSTON & REGENTS PARK 1894
51 SHOREDITCH 1914
60 PADDIHGTON 1872
66 CUSTOM HOUSE 1894
68 CREEKMOUTH 1894
99 PUTNEY BRIDGE 1894
8.04 BEXLEY HEATH 1862
These and most others are stocked by GLIAS at £1.25 each plus 20p postage from Tom Smith, 74 Lord Warwick Street, Woolwich, SE13 5QD.
AIA GUIDE TO THE INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE OF WEST YORKSHIRE
As usual the AIA have published their Conference Guide. Edited by Bill Thompson, Conference Organiser, this guide is probably the first gazetteer to sites in West Yorkshire. It covers the districts of Calderdale, Bradford, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. 193 entries are included. Although not without errors it will form a useful introduction to West Yorkshire. GLIAS have copies of this 52 page, A4 illustrated book available at £2.75 inclusive, from Tom Smith, address above. DAVID PERRETT
WATERWHEELS IN WALES AND THE WEST COUNTRY
GLIAS member John Rogers informs us that his film of some 16 working water wheels filmed in 1978 is now available on video. (It was shown at a GLIAS lecture some years ago). For details of this professional standard video contact John Rogers on 05827-2070. The 16mm sound film is still available for hire. DAVID PERRETT
HISTORIC WATERWAY FILMS — 'BROAD WATERWAYS'
Two historic Waterways films from the 1960s are now available as a video. The two half-hour films depict the life of the River Trent and the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal with the River Severn, travelling on the bar30 'Thames' on, a two-day journey from Hull to Nottingham with 110 tons of newsprint. 'Broad Waterways' is priced at £17.95 plus 95p post and packing from the British Waterways Canal Shop.' THE WATERWAYS ART CALENDAR- FOR 1990 is available also and features 12 original paintings of canal scenes. Priced at £4.50 from: The British Waterways Canal Shop, Melbury Terrace, London NW1 6JX. EDITOR
© GLIAS, 1989