Hello from the new intern!

July 04th 2017 by Lydia Smith

Hello everyone! My name is Lydia and I’m the Mills Archive’s new intern for the summer! Like many before me I came to the Archive through the Reading University Internship Scheme, after finishing my 2nd year of studying History. The experience of working with historical material first-hand in my 1st year of university definitely sparked my interest in archival work. Especially when you would find fascinating little anecdotes or curiosities hidden away, something Liz mentioned in my interview would be a regular find at the Mills Archive. So as you can imagine, I was very excited to join the Archive this summer, meet the team, and discover a new area of history.
Poster Image

Until I came to work here I had had very little experience with the history of mills and the milling industry, even going so far as to brush them off as ‘boring’! However, now being at the Archive for even just a week I have definitely seen the light and am keen to continue my journey into the fascinating world of mills and the people who work with them. From the minute I arrived at the Archive for my interview the first thing I noticed was the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and the enjoyment everyone gets from what they do. It makes the environment here so comfortable and easy to work in, and the prospect of a 3-month long internship in such a lovely place very appealing!

Looking at the Holman Collection:

In my first week here I have been given the opportunity to look through some collections, my favourite so far being the John Munnings’ Collection, where he beautifully sketched mills around the UK and often included notes of its history, sometimes with a disparaging comment about its new owners! I was also able to look through the Geoff Holman Collection, where the work put into researching and documenting the livelihood of the Holman millers over the past 150 years is astounding and a pleasure to read through. I especially enjoyed reading through the old ledgers that had been carefully conserved to a remarkable standard, unfortunately however I have not yet developed the ‘eye’ for reading the old style of handwriting so spent a lot of the time deciphering words!

One of Munnings' beautiful sketches is on the left, and on the right are some of the parts of the Holman ledgers that were saved during conservation:

My official task for the summer is to work through the Archive’s material and discover ‘gems’, such as artefacts, stories, pieces from a collection etc., that hold particular interest to me as a relative outsider to the milling world. These gems will be used in the future to help the Archive reach a wider audience and to illustrate just how intriguing mills really are, hopefully gaining a few more mill enthusiasts in the process! I know in a place as rich in history and information as the Mills Archive, finding these little gems will not be too difficult.

The past few days here have shown me how lucky I am to be given the opportunity to have an internship here, and I am genuinely excited to see what the Archive has hidden away in its many boxes over the coming weeks.