Policemen's update

A brief update on the project

By Jeff Cargill

Receipt spike
Blocked pages
Grass stems and dirt adhered to pages

Police Records Update – 30/7/12

Volunteer cleaning continues apace and all of the items in the collections categorised as either 0 or 1 have been treated. Categories 0 and 1 were those that had the least damage and for the most part need little or no further interventive treatment. Category “0” required only minor cleaning with a soft brush and a dry chemical sponge for more stubborn soiling. Category “1” required the same treatment as those in category “0” but will need some minor repairs and consolidation in some areas. The items consist of:

  • guardroom occurrence books
  • duty registers
  • charge sheets
  • messages received books
  • receipt books
  • an order book
  • an attendance book
  • receipts for goods, insurance policies, general receipts for personal effects and items returned.
  • prisoners’ welfare book
  • policemen’s journals

All 27 have been completed, the last few were cleaned today. The bundles of receipts were quite large amounting to 100 or more pieces of paper per bundle. When these were originally deposited at the Bishops Stortford Museum they were still impaled on a spike! Once removed from the spike it is important to maintain their correct order so that they remain in context.

Our volunteers are: Nigel, Carol, Anna, Greta, Melanie, Bradley, Nicola and Matt. They are supervised by Jeff Cargill, assisted by Susan Hall and Valerie Riley.

In the conservation studio work continues on World War 1 material. Another volume has been completed and is ready for listing and subsequent digitisation. A further volume’s pages have been carefully separated and are currently undergoing consolidation and repair. A similarly damaged volume is in the process of having its pages separated. The difficulty with these particular books is that they have been wet. Judging by the accumulation of dirt and debris on the outer pages, it would seem that they have been in a muddy puddle. The evidence for this is that there are grass stems and soil adhered to the surface of these pages. Due to the acid hydrolysis caused by the action of water and mould many portions of the pages have become fused or “blocked”. This means that the fibres of adjacent pages have interlocked and as they have degraded the fibres have also broken down into shorter fibrils which results in the paper having no integrity and rupturing with even the most delicate of touches.

Once the pages have been separated (this may take over an hour per page) they can be consolidated with alcohol based cellulose size: 0.5% Klucel G (Hydroxypropyl cellulose) in Industrial Denatured Alcohol (Ethanol with not more than 4% Methanol). Badly affected material may require two applications of size, severely affected material can have a third coating but more than this is to be avoided as the paper can become translucent.

As we come across more and more entries in the books we make a note of them and take a photographic record. This allows for transcription without having to handle the originals any more than is absolutely necessary to minimise potential damage. As items of interest come to light we look forward to publishing these stories from the division’s past as the project advances.

This page was added on 22/08/2013.

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