Friends of the Charles Parker Archive: AGM 2012

Minutes of AGM held Friday 23rd September 2012 at The Central Library, Birmingham 

The meeting commenced at 3.05p.m.

1.       Present:
Trustees and Committee members: Tim Blackmore (Chairman),  Andy Cartwright, Peter Cox,  Mary Kalemkerian,  Helen Lloyd, Sara Parker,  Matthew Parker, Gillian Reynolds, Ian Parr,  Fiona Tait,  Robert Whitworth
Friends:  Maureen and John Davis, Steve May, Eileen Whiting
Apologies:  Pam Bishop, Philip Cox, Alan Hall, Sian Roberts, Joy Ashworth, John Bettinson, Cathy Mackerras, Colin and Elizabeth Shaw
Guest:  Rachel MacGregor; Senior Archivist, Birmingham Central Library

2.       Chairman’s Welcome and Introductory Remarks:
The Chairman welcomed Friends to the meeting and outlined the agenda items.  He introduced two Trustees who had joined us since the last AGM; Mary Kalemkerian and Peter Cox who each explained their background.  He spoke of Alan Hall, also a new Trustee, who was not able to attend the meeting.  Alan had agreed to become a Trustee following his nomination at the previous Trustees’ AGM.  He is a distinguished radio producer and head of Falling Tree Productions as well as an associate tutor at Goldsmiths College, London where he runs the Creative Radio Features MA course.

He then introduced and welcomed Rachel MacGregor who, he said, would give a presentation later in the meeting.

The Chairman said that we had lost two strong supporters of the Trust in the last year, Janie Buchan and Rhoma Bowdler.  Gillian Reynolds described Janey Buchan as “a good friend of the Archive” and her “a friendly rush of conversation”.  She told also of Janie’s background in Politics and the Arts and her support for working class causes.

Eileen Whiting spoke of Rhoma Bowdler’s time during the early days of Banner Theatre and of her support for the Archive and the Trust, while at the same time bringing up her three daughters.  She emphasised Rhoma’s energy and enthusiasm and her commitment to excellence; “She would never accept second best”.  Movement and dance had to be spot on for a performance or a rehearsal even though members of the cast had, in many cases, only just finished a day’s work.

Continuing his opening remarks the Chairman thanked Sara Parker for her editing of this year’s Annual Report.  He went on to say that our Treasurer, Robert Whitworth retired his position at this AGM and that he was grateful to Matthew Parker for agreeing to take over.  He explained that Robert will also retire as Trustee after the Trust meeting in January 2013.  He expressed his thanks to Robert for his work as Treasurer over the last eight years and for his work on behalf of the Trust.

He then spoke about Gillian Reynolds, who he explained, was also retiring after this AGM.  He paid tribute to Gillian’s commitment to the Trust, much of those 30 years as its Chairman when she had guided the Trust and the Archive to a position in which we could start to plan more widely the promotion of the Archive through Charles Parker Days and the Charles Parker Prize.  He drew attention to Gillian’s article in the Annual Report in which she describes the history of the Trust and he ended by expressing our indebtedness to her.

Many of those present expressed their appreciation and the meeting generally acknowledged  Gillian’s outstanding contribution to the Trust and the preservation of the Archive.

3. Approval of minutes of Friends AGM held 23rd September 2011
The minutes were approved.

4.  Items arising from 2011 Friends Annual Meeting
There were no items arising from the previous AGM.

5.  Future of Library Staff and resources
The Chairman with further explanations from Fiona Tait and Rachel MacGregor described the situation with regard to the new Library and the anticipated impact upon the Trust and the Archive.  The new Library is planned to open on 3rd September 2013.  The archives sections will be moved during the New Year so access will be limited or maybe not available at all for a time.

On a positive note the environmental controls will ensure the Archive is housed in better, i.e. more stable conditions and those requiring access will enjoy better facilities.  The IT facilities will be better and access will be more interactive; all changes that Library staff consider to be long overdue.

6.  Charles Parker Day and the Charles Parker Prize 2012 and plans for 2013 and 2014

6.1  2012  The Chairman expressed his pleasure at the success of the event this year and thanked Andy Cartwright for his organisation of the Day and that he was impressed with the quality of the entrants for the Prize.  Andy Cartwright explained that he too was pleased with the calibre of people we were able to attract for the Day as a whole.  He felt that Mike Rosen’s opening remarks set the standard for the rest of the Day.

6.2  2013  Andy Cartwright explained that he was now proceeding with the organisation of Charles Parker Day which would be held on March 22nd 2013 at Salford University, Salford Quays; see  http://www.salford.ac.uk/MediaCityUK.  He reminded the meeting that it will be the 50th anniversary of the broadcast of the Radio Ballads, “On the Edge” and “The Fight Game” and that the BBC’s new studios are close to the venue for CP Day, furthermore the Youth and Childrens’ programmes and Sport are all based at these studios.  It was also hoped to have an “In the Dark” session as part of the programme for the Day, see http://www.inthedarkradio.org/.

6.3  2014  The Chairman said that at the Trustees AGM earlier Gillian Reynolds had raised the question of whether or not the opening of the new Library could be celebrated by the Trust by holding Charles Parker Day in the new building.  2014 would be the anniversary of “The Travelling People” the final one of the “true radio ballads” made by Ewan, Peggy and Charles.

The meeting agreed this would be an appropriate opportunity for the Trust to raise its profile in the Midlands.

7.  Rachel Macgregor; Library Senior Archivist:  Herbert Cashmore and Charles Parker – a meeting on a train[1]    

Rachel Macgregor introduced herself saying that she was a Senior Archivist at the Library with responsibility for subjects such as public service delivery, digitisation, projects and outreach and that she has worked in the Library for 16 years.  Her investigations into Herbert Cashmore arose out of her duties as archivist.

Herbert Cashmore is important to the Trust because he was Chief Librarian from 1938 to 1947 and he was interviewed about his life in 1959 by Charles Parker as part of a programme called “People Today” which was never broadcast.

The meeting between Cashmore and Parker came about following their meeting on a train journey returning to Birmingham from London.  Rachel produced for the meeting a transcript of part of the interview Charles Parker made with Herbert Cashmore in which he describes his early years and how he became a librarian.  She then played the recording.

Briefly, Herbert Cashmore (also his father’s name) was born in London in 1882 but lived most of his life, including his early childhood, in Birmingham.  He died in 1972.   He had at least nine brothers and sisters all still living together when Herbert was in his late twenties.  His father was a carpenter but following a business failure in London the family moved back to the Birmingham area just after Herbert was born living in poor housing in slum localities.  His father’s drinking was probably at the root of many of the family’s economic problems.  For instance, when Herbert won a school scholarship and was given money for books his father appropriated it for his own use.

EvenBloomsbury Librarytually, Herbert left school having partially educated himself through reading at home and in his local library, mostly Bloomsbury Library, Nechells Parkway  (see illustration from Birmingham Libraries).

The library connection led him eventually to obtain employment there as an assistant and in due course he rose to the position of Chief Librarian of the Central Library.

With the aid of the taped interview Rachel explained that Herbert Cashmore had managed to rise above the poverty that trapped many of his contemporaries.

In the following discussions there was speculation about his self-confidence in front of a microphone and how it contrasted with the sort of persona he must have needed to achieve the status he acquired.  However, as Charles Parker said to him, “You were forged on a hard anvil”.

Herbert Cashmore, although he retired in 1947, continued to take an interest in library services and he travelled extensively including to the USSR as part of a Carnegie tour of library services.

The meeting thought that Cashmore, in spite of his nervousness with the microphone, appeared proud of his past and his personal achievements.  Rachel, went on to say that it had been recognised within the Library that there was a need to record the organisation’s institutional memory and the Cashmore interview could be considered alongside others that had now been conducted with people who were retiring and some who had retired who had worked in Library during the time of Cashmore’s custodianship.  She said that he had foreseen some of the things that had come to pass.  He had espoused public access to library books and documents and as such had anticipated the shape and operation of the present library.  To what extent did his background imprint upon the Library Service in Birmingham or the Country at large?  She felt the jury was still out.

The Chairman thanked Rachel for her interesting and stimulating presentation and the meeting generally expressed their appreciation.

8.  Future arrangements for the AGM
The Chairman said that it was hoped that the AGM in 2013 would be in the New Library.  However, we were not certain of this and he said that Friends will be kept in touch with developments.

9.  Discussion and Any other Business.
The meeting concluded with a general discussion on the topics covered and an especial thanks to Gillian Reynolds.  And there being no further business the Chairman thanked everyone for attending and declared the meeting closed at 4.40p.m.

 Ian M Parr
Hon Secretary

[1] Secretary’s Note:  What follows is a brief summary of Rachel’s presentation.  Additional information will be placed on the Trust website, see www.cpatrust.org.uk

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