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Treasures from Worcestershire’s Past: ~52~ Boardroom Antics

  • 5th December 2014

This week brings us to the end of our Treasures of Worcestershire’s Past series of posts. Number 52 is the final in the series as it has now run for a full year. The last post has been chosen by Sarah Ganderton, Archive Assistant who is working with us as part of the Skills for the Future trainee programme:

My treasure is a Worcester Infirmary Minute book, which is held at reference b 010:6 BA 5161/4.

I used this record before I started working at the Worcestershire Archives and Archaeology Service.  As a student at the University of Worcester I wrote my independent study about the subscribers to the Worcester Infirmary.  Although I didn’t actually use the minute book in my final write up, it was my starting point, and my inspiration to search deeper into the financial records.  I am reminded of this ‘treasure’ as I attended my graduation ceremony only last week at Worcester Cathedral, receiving the Northam Prize for best independent study, which was a lovely surprise.

As I read the minutes I like to imagine the committee members sitting around the boardroom table in The Worcester Infirmary.  The boardroom is still there in the old infirmary building and can be visited on open days through The Infirmary museum.  As I read the carefully sculpted hand-written words in the huge bound book I imagine the secretary busily scribbling away in the meeting, then working out which bits to commend to history afterwards.  I have minuted meetings myself so I know that what I read here is only the agreement at the end of what may have been quite heated debates.

I smell the air heavy with tobacco smoke (purely my imagination) and the smell of Victorian gentlemen, their whiskers carefully preened and hair styled as it is in the paintings still hanging in the room.  I hear their bassy voices as they try to out-shout each other, and bang on the table for attention.  Meanwhile, along the corridor the sounds of nervous patients and busy nurses, slightly tipsy on their ration of beer brewed in the basement.

These were the great and the good of Worcester society.  The movers and shakers.  Voted by their fellow subscribers who invested in the building for the good of the ‘industrious poor’ and for their own prestige.  This building and these meetings within it would be the making of their names as gentlemen in society.  And in reading the minutes from these meetings I am transported back in time to join them, just for an instant.

We hope you have enjoyed our Treasures series. Check back next week for a recap of the posts that have featured over the past year. If you have found any treasures of your own  at Worcestershire Archives we would really love to hear from you – leave a comment here on the Blog or drop us an email at archives@worcestershire.gov.uk.  

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