Porridge for Parliament

June 06th 2017 by Liz Bartram

Thank you so much to those who have become the first to adopt a collection! Read on to find out about one of our collections that has a well-timed political twist.
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The EM Gardner Collection was the first to be adopted, followed by the Jon Sass Collection. Since launching the Adopt a Collection initiative, we have also received a generous donation to the Collections Fund.

Some of you will have been reading our enewsletters in which we showcase some of the collections and their treasures. If you would like to join this mailing list then please email me at friends@millsarchive.org.

I thought I should highlight another adoptable collection in this blog – and one which is probably my favourite! – the Victorian Milling Collection. This is made up of thousands of journals that focus on the development of roller flour milling from the late 1870s onwards. They are in varying conditions. In addition to the Miller and Milling journals, we have probably the world’s largest run of the Northwestern Miller, a US journal read by those in the milling industry. We received a grant last year to bind the Northwestern Miller so that they will be preserved for years to come. Now bound, it is safe to handle them.

Just skimming through the pages you stumble upon gem after gem. Fascinating articles that reveal global attitudes towards food production. Eyecatching adverts that indicate social and economic values of the time, often put in such a way as to bring a smile to the reader. The humour of that era works even now, or at least some of it!

In one 1925 issue, there is an article about a Labour politician demanding that porridge be added to the menu in the House of Commons mess. David Kirkwood, who was also a kitchen committee member, had been permitted to “take in hand the instruction of chefs in the delicate art of preparing genuine Scottish porridge”. Not only was he a “rabid labor [sic.] man” but also a Scot, who saw it as an insult that porridge wasn’t included in the parliamentary diet. He argued that porridge is the “surest of all foundations for mental as well as physical exertion” and was “anxious that his fellow-members from the Clyde should be able to endure all-night sittings of the house and continue to be a thorn in the side of the present conservative government”.

We are gradually starting to index the journals and some of their contents. In the long term we hope to ditigise them, although this will require a substantial grant.

Until then, why not show your support for saving the world’s milling records and help us care for all of our collections, by adopting the Victorian Milling Collection? You might be the first person to do so!

Make a difference. Adopt a Collection.