Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Loading a gun.

Items stolen from museums is nothing new and I know of two collections locally that have had items go awol. The important thing is that measures are put in place to prevent this from happening.
In the past the reliance has been on paper records and a vigilant curator that knows his collection. So with today's modern technology items can be photographed and the data stored with ease with more than one person having a copy to help monitor collections.

 During the nineties art and artifacts in TDC care were transferred from paper records to a electronic data base. Unfortunately for TDC the paper records inherited from the Borough of Margate were unreliable. A fine example I have got is an example of the correspondence regarding the ownership of the carved furniture in the Tudor House.
 In fact the transfer onto a data base was a nightmare because the very roots of the collection date back to the Rowe bequest in 1926 and the Parker collection in 1929.
 During the Second World War Museum items were stored in private homes for "safe" keeping and I can assure the reader that the record keeping of who had what was not a priority in 1940. From the end of the war up until local government reorganization in 1974 the numbering system would change on more than one occasion and this is evident with items at present  having at least four identification numbers. However as I have stated on many occasions after local government reorganization in 1974 the whole lot went into storage based on unreliable records.In the years from 1974 to the setting up of the Margate museum items were written off as damaged due to poor storage, stolen or missing due to poor record keeping. So anything that went on in the past was  forgotten and the new data base would be based on physical stock present. This turned out to be a dangerous game because items would turn up and there were no record of the item. One such example was when loans were returned from the closed Judge's quarters at Maidstone and records on some of the items items could not be found anywhere and they were re listed. I was even informed of two items in private premises with TDC identification and the person who had them had no idea of their origin but as he didn't want them so they were returned to the Museum.

I haven't mentioned this to anybody  before except to my inner circle of historians but during that period I had a secret meeting with a Council officer in the coffee shop in the centre to discuss the matter. It was arranged by email and I duly turned up. To be honest I was not sure if he was instructed to meet me or just fishing. So I gave him the full SP of most of what I have written above. I even used a bit of bluff by over elaborating on some areas of what I knew. He took it all on board and he asked me what I knew about TDC numbering systems for items in storage. This was followed by a viewing of TDC items stored under  the basement in the Post Office over the road in Cecil Square. All I can say I have never seen so much chaos in all my life. There were rows of old planning files in drop down folder storage and they had no way of knowing what was in each file without reading each one individually  That was where I can across the files on the Ramsgate air raid tunnels that included ARP and Ciivl Defence documentation. As for everything else in storage it was just stored in piles.

So what was the outcome of my "secret meeting". Even though I kept emailing the Council Officer he never returned my emails. However, the museum started to receive items from other council locations with most of it stuffed in boxes. All  pictures were added to the racks in the back room of the museum and items were literally put into cupboards or in stacked in any available space. Once again many items had no provenance or listing number.

Getting back to my original thread about items being stolen from Museums all I can say with a system run like  I would think even the most neutral observer would be feeling a bit cynical by now.

Finally here is a little story.
In the late summer of 1998 the Margate Charter Trustees held a centenary exhibition at the old town hall to commorate  the opening of the building. In the upstairs committee room many old items relating to old Margate were on display on the tables. This included a wartime scrapbook that belonged George Philip Hoare who was Mayor in 1940. George Hoare was also a commercial photographer and there were many photographs in the book. Halfway through the book were four photographs taken of four different views of Cecil Square taken during a war weapons week during the Second World War. The public were free to view the book under my watchful eye. Some people had just viewed the book  and the room was empty and I left the book opened on that page. In walked a prominent public figure and I left him looking at the book while I did something else in the room by putting items straight. He left the room no one else entered the room but I noticed he had closed the book so I opened it to lay it out. I opened on the war weapons week page and to my dismay two photographs had gone. He had taken them. I immediately reported this to the Mayor who dismissed my concerns. I felt quite angry as I knew this was a case of working class Tony Ovenden up against a so called local public figure come Freemason and all that. So I had to back off as it was my word against his, even though I knew he could be caught with them in his possession.
This did not stop me from keeping tabs on this guy and I was really concerned as he had full access in the Margate Museum.
Eventually the George Hoare scrapbook was donated to the Margate Museum and guess what. The two remaining photographs were to disappear with many of the other photographs in the album.


Tony Ovenden said...

A follow on from my little story.

When I was a charter trustees the Mayor's secretary gave me an A4 plastic pocket containing information on the Parade Margate and asked me to drop it in the Margate Museum. It use to belong to the above mentioned person and it was found during a tidy up. So I dropped it in at the Museum and Bob went through it and added it to the archive. There was an old photograph and on the back was a Margate Library ID and reference number. So Bob asked me to drop it in at the library which I did.
Unfortunately for me the person upstairs was not impressed at all. She wanted to know what I was doing having it in my possession and that it had been taken from the library. I must admit I did bottle it because and I told her I bought it at a boot fair and thought it belonged to them. Once she came down off the ceiling she thanked me .

Richard Card said...

Sounds like the history of the post WW1 Ramsgate blacklist. (Including names of men the journal admitted had served with distinction in the trenches) Found by a builder whilst he was restoring a Ramsgate property in the 80s.

He gave it to Ramsgate library museum never to be seen again.

The old under Margate Post Office file storage ? Took 3 years of persistence to get the 1972 planning consent for 6th Thanet Gun Range found in there.

Dusting off your WW2 history again you may be aware that Earl Selborne, Ministry of Economic Warfare, used his influence with Corpus Christi, Cambridge, to gain use of Corpus Christi land for training Secret Operations Executive.

Corpus Christi are, of course, the freeholders of the farmland in which the chalk quarry in 1972 became 6th Thanet Gun Range.

Whether there is any significance in this who could say ?

You are aware of the anomalies in the wartime photos of the crash landing of Werner Bartells. A former pupil of Margate College. Possibly a more important German landing than that of Hess ?

I think you are aware of the email exchange with the film company who made the documentary about the film re Von Werra ? Part of the documentary research was talking to Bartells who was the last Luftwaffe POW to talk to Von Werra before his escape in Canada ?

Your own redoubtable Margate History Society stalwart JTW obtained the evidence that records Bartells as an in patient in London at the time !

Perhaps if you read Professor R V Jones re the Oslo Person (hans Ferdinand Meyer) the possible importance of the Bartells story may suggest itself ?

Highly unlikely that a typical mediocre intellect Thanet Freemason would be entrusted to tidy up some of the more sensitive photos of WW2 Thanet though.

I take it too that you know that Broadstairs Builders in WW2 found a radio installation in the loft of a house in Gladstone Road ? And that men from the ministry arrived and rounded up a Nazi spy cell ?

The builders had been employed by the notorious German doctor who lived at Kingsgate. He probably did not expect them to go nosing in the loft.

The Thanet fireman who nicked Bartell's pistol came in for disciplinary or criminal action too I think.