Friends’ Events in 2021

New articles and podcasts are available in the Members’ area and we have more talks planned with a mini series of themed talks around climate change and weather related records in the archives, the Cold War, Spies in the Archives and research methods and evidence gathering.

Friends’ Event – Talk on 15 September 2021 – Nat Alcock

A Tale of Three Houses: Wilmcote, Warwickshire and the Shakespeare Family

The vernacular houses in Wilmcote, near Stratford-upon-Avon, are mainly timber-framed houses dating from the 14th century onwards, though the village also includes stone-built terraces of 19th century quarrymen’s cottages. This talk will examine the character and individual histories of the houses, setting them in their social context. In particular the research has thrown an unexpected light on the connections of William Shakespeare and his family with three houses in the village and corrected a centuries-old mis-attribution.

The evidence used ranges from the 1910 Domesday hereditament maps and Field Books at TNA and title deeds, to architectural recording and tree-ring dating.

Nat Alcock is an Emeritus Reader in the Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick. In parallel with his scientific career, he has made a lifelong study of vernacular architecture and social history, and is a past president of the Vernacular Architecture Group. He has published extensively in these fields, particularly on the correlation of documentary and architectural evidence for buildings. He is the author of the handbooks, Documenting the History of Houses and Tracing History through Title Deeds: A guide for family and local historians (2017), the major regional study, The Medieval Peasant House in Midland England (2013) and most recently jointly edited and contributed to Cruck Building: A Survey (2019).

The event is free to members but guests are welcome to attend for £5 (+ booking fee) per head. The £5 ticket price will be refundable against the cost of membership.

Please use this link to book:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-tale-of-three-houses-wilmcote-and-the-shakespeare-family-tickets-158558140667

Please note that you do not have to sign in to Eventbrite or create an account. The event details are in a link on the top right of the screen. Clicking that link will take you through to book.

Friends’ Event – Talk on 13 October 2021 – Iain Maclean

Aberfan October 1966: gross negligence and blame-shifting

In 1997, having ascertained from contacts at TNA that all papers relating to the 1966 Aberfan disaster would be released in the New Year, Iain McLean secured the Observer‘s press card for the preview of the opening. Over two intensive days, he filled in missing parts of the Aberfan narrative to establish a cover-up. Two subsequent research grants enabled him and his co-author Martin Johnes to publish a definitive book: Aberfan: government and disaster (revised edition Cardiff: Welsh Academic Press 2019).

Just before the 55th anniversary of the disaster, Iain will show in his talk how and why it happened, and who subsequently protected the National Coal Board and Lord Robens, its chair, from liability. In a bizarre twist Robens went on to chair the committee on Health and Safety at Work, which has governed all subsequent legislation. In another, the Prime Minister was advised against agreeing an Aberfan memorial service at Westminster Abbey on the grounds that the Welsh Church was disestablished. In a third, the Charity Commission tried to block payments to the bereaved unless they could show that they had been ‘close’ to their deceased children. There were many scandals at Aberfan, but none of them involved HM the Queen.

Iain McLean is Senior Research Fellow in Politics, Nuffield College, Oxford, and a fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He has written widely on contemporary UK history and politics but regards Aberfan as the most important book he has worked on.

The event is free to members but guests are welcome to attend for £5 (+ booking fee) per head. The £5 ticket price will be refundable against the cost of membership.

Please use this link to book:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/aberfan-october-1966-gross-negligence-and-blame-shifting-tickets-169864317747

Please note that you do not have to sign in to Eventbrite or create an account. The event details are in a link on the top right of the screen. Clicking that link will take you through to book.

Friends’ Event – Talk on 3 November 2021 – Peter Williams

Licence to Spy? BRIXMIS and the Search for the Robertson-Malinin Agreement

A little-known feature of the Cold War in Germany was the agreement between the occupying Four Powers to exchange bilateral military liaison missions. The Anglo-Soviet deal, known as the ‘Robertson-Malinin Agreement’, was finalised on 16 September 1946 and permitted the accreditation of 11 officers and 20 other ranks to the other party; the British Mission was always called ‘BRIXMIS’, and its Soviet counterpart was known as ‘SOXMIS’. In April 1947 the French and then the Americans signed similar, but not identical, bilateral agreements with the Soviet commander-in-chief in Germany: their missions were limited to only 18 and 14 members.

For reasons that remain unclear the location of the original, signed version of the ‘Robertson-Malinin Agreement’ has for many years been unknown. Ongoing searches in the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence, as well as in the Soviet archives in Moscow, have thus far failed to unearth an original, signed version. This talk will descibe what has come to light in The National Archives about the process that produced the Agreement. This research has, for instance, shown that the use of BRIXMIS as an intelligence collection asset was envisaged from the earliest stage of that process, whereas it had long been assumed that this non-traditional ‘liaison’ activity had emerged after the collapse of the era of Four Power collaboration. The talk will also look at how ‘liaison’ protocols and restrictions developed over the course of more than four decades.

Major General Peter Williams read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge before joining the Coldstream Guards and spending the next three decades or so serving in West Berlin, Northern Ireland, Oman, Hong Kong, and the former Yugoslavia. In the early 1980s he studied Russian and went on to serve two 2-year tours in the British Commanders’-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (‘BRIXMIS’) as a liaison officer. His final posting was in Moscow, where he set up and led the NATO Military Liaison Mission to the Russian Federation from 2002 to 2005. He is Chairman of the BRIXMIS Association.

The event is free to members but guests are welcome to attend for £5 (+ booking fee) per head. The £5 ticket price will be refundable against the cost of membership.

Please use this link to book:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/licence-to-spy-brixmis-and-the-search-for-the-robertson-malinin-agreement-tickets-169468596133

Please note that you do not have to sign in to Eventbrite or create an account. The event details are in a link on the top right of the screen. Clicking that link will take you through to book.

PAST EVENTS

Recordings of past talks and suggested further reading lists may be available. Please see the ‘Archive of Past Talks’ page in the Members area under ‘The Talks Programme’ tab.