One of the Library’s acquisitions in 2014, Alison Light’s “Common People: the History of an English Family” (Ca 13767), makes an interesting, if unconscious, connection with a distinguished former member of the Library.
In exploring her family background, Alison Light illuminates many aspects of our social history along the way. She discovered that her grandfather’s mother, Sarah Hill, entered the recently-completed Netherne Asylum, in Surrey, in 1911. This prompted her to look at the role of asylums and workhouses in the lives of working people over the last two centuries.
She found a picture of Netherne Asylum, below, and notes (on page 283) that it was designed in a “simplified Queen Anne style” by G T Hine, consulting architect to His Majesty’s Commissioners in Lunacy.
George Thomas Hine (1841-1916) was the son of Nottingham’s most famous architect, Thomas Chambers Hine, who was a member of Bromley House Library for 55 years. George himself was a subscriber between 1884 and 1890. He was a partner in T C Hine’s practice until he started his own, in London, after his father’s retirement in 1890.
One of his specialisms was the design of hospitals and asylums, begun by his winning first prize for the design of Mapperley asylum in 1875. Ken Brand’s Nottingham Civic Society pamphlet on T C Hine (Cc 02643) notes that he went on to win other open competitions to design asylums at Woodford, Essex in 1887, Charminster, Dorset in 1890 and Ryhope, Sunderland in 1891. After winning 5 competitions he was appointed consulting architect to the Commissioners in 1897. He designed or extended 20 asylums in all and lived in Mayfair, London.
The Commissioners in Lunacy were created in 1845. Known as “Masters in Lunacy” and appointed by the Lord Chancellor, their first Chairman was the distinguished reformer Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury. They became the Board of Control for Lunacy and Mental Deficiency in 1913 and were absorbed by the Ministry of Health in 1919, continuing as inspectors of asylums until 1939.
A short biography of G T Hine can be found in Jennifer S. Alexander’s article about Mapperley Hospital in the Transactions of the Thoroton Society for 2008, Vol. 112 (Cc 02078). It can be read online at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/arthistory/staff/ja/alexander-copy.pdf .
If you search for local history on BromCat you will currently retrieve 1922 items. Some of these are in special collections but most are on the open shelves.
The special collections are the James Ward Collection and The Michael Dobbin Collection.
The James Ward Collection was given to the Library in 1914 by the librarian and book collector James Ward and reflect his interests in local history, poetry, particularly Byron and his life and Henry Kirk White, and the Baptist Church in Nottingham, which is where he was Librarian. It isn’t a complete collection of his books, as he also generously gave books to other institutions. He also put together books himself, having collections of papers bound together either on a particular topic or added to a book that he had purchased. There are also several manuscript items.
The majority of this collection is shelved in its own bookcase in the Standfast Library.
The Michael Dobbin collection is on loan to the Library by Canon Charles Dobbin. This has a slightly wider geographical range and comprises around 750 items, some dating back to the 18th century and again some manuscript items. These are kept in locked cupboards in the ‘Michael Dobbin Corridor’ in the new wing and the doors will be unlocked for you on request.
Philip James Bailey was a Nottingham poet born in 1816, the year the Library started, although he was only a member of the Library for a few years when he returned to Nottingham prior to his death. As well as local history there are key items of poetical works, and theology and mysticism as well as freemasonry. The 200 volumes are housed in the cabinets in the Thoroton Room.
As much as the varieties of sizes of book and height of bookshelves will allow, Bromley House’s own collection of local history is housed in the Standfast Library, although the gems of this collection are in the glass fronted cupboard next to the counter. On the upper shelves are Phillimore’s Nottinghamshire Parish Registers (Marriages) There is also a collection of pamphlets stored in their boxes under the old card catalogue.
Just inside the coffee room you will find the Thoroton Society’s publications, a run of Trade Directories in date order, and the Records of the Borough of Nottingham’.
As the Library was always keen to collect local history, and didn’t dispose of this during any of the sales that took place periodically it has left us with a particularly rich collection. Some of these are inevitably in the locked cupboards, and if such an item is stated as in Case 1 or the Safe Room then you will have to ask and have it signed out to you, and it will be put in the Neville Hoskins Reading Room with the appropriate book rests etc. If this room is unavailable then unfortunately the book will also be, so if you are keen to look at a particular item on a particular day please do check with us prior to coming to the Library