Secrets of the archives
From the unusual to the humorous, the heartfelt to the heart-wrenching, these examples demonstrate the wealth of stories held in archives around the UK.
Hopefully they'll inspire you to get out and explore your own local archive!
An intriguing 1972 photograph by Roger Deakins shows an egg-dispensing machine on Umberleigh railway station. It's one of 80,000 previously unseen images by Deakins, now an Oscar-winning cinematographer, and photographer James Ravilious, recently digitised at the Beaford Archive.
First World War roll of honour
An outhouse is not the first place you'd think of as a fitting memorial to war heroes, but that's where churchwardens of All Saints’ Church, Collingham found a handwritten First World War roll of honour. It lists all those from North Collingham who saw active service during the 1914-1918 war.
Thankfully, the National Lottery-supported Collingham in the Great War Project ensured the honour roll will be properly preserved.
Mikron Theatre set design
The Mikron Theatre Company rather uniquely tours the country by narrowboat. The Heritage @ Huddersfield project enabled the University of Huddersfield to record and preserve its 55 years of history in a 31-metre-long archive of 120 boxes.
Shem the hamster
Cornwall Records Office are busy digitising hundreds of glass negatives and early photographs of the county, thanks in part to £11.7m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. Staff were amused to discover this photograph of Shem the hamster, owned by a local family in the 1920s or 30s.
The Leicester Folks Telling Jokes project tracked down, archived and preserved a wealth of photographs to mark the 25th anniversary celebrations of Leicester Comedy Festival - among them, a very young-looking Johnny Vegas, who won the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition in 1997.
Gloucestershire Archives' Delving into Dowty is opening up a large and significant engineering archive. This humorous poem published in Dowty Propellers' in-house magazine conjures up a now-lost world of work.
Art by Harriet Chan
In the archives of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art is correspondence about a sadly never-shown 1995 exhibition featuring artist Harriet Chan. Chan's work played with stereotypes - her CV was presented in the form of a Chinese takeaway menu.
War-time marriage licenses
Salisbury Cathedral's Beyond the Library Door archive project came across 15 special marriage licences issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the two world wars. Archivists selected five couples to explore further and were relieved to find that all five men survived and returned home to their new wives.
The Bankes Archive at Dorset History Centre is a rich collection of documents that date from the 13th century to the present day, dedicated to the Bankes family who have lived in Dorset since the 17th century. It includes a letter from Frances Bankes (1760-1823) to her nine-year-old son Henry at boarding school, partly written in pictograms.
A slave song
Gloucestershire Archives holds a unique African slave song written down by 18th-century anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp. The song, which was recently added to the UNESCO International Memory of the World Register, lets us hear the voices of enslaved people working in the sugar plantations of Barbados.
Corfe Castle sketch
Also from the Bankes Archive, a sketch by William John Bankes (1786-1855) depicts his vision to rebuild Corfe Castle (now 1,000 years old). It is likely that the project was too expensive even for the wealthy Bankes family, and Corfe Castle remains a ruin to this day.
James Bond ship
Volunteers for East Riding Archives' Trawling Through Time uncovered the ship's plans for the Thorina. The ship acted as the doomed vessel St Georges, blown up in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
What about you?
What's your favourite archival discovery? Share your nominations on social media using #ExploreArchives.