Archive and Special Collections | Blog

Dodging the demolition

Recently I was alerted to the imminent demolition of back to back houses in Holbeck, in particular to a house and shop that was once headquarters of the International Labour Publications.

Before 1975 they were known as the International Labour Party and have been well archived by the London School of Economics and the Working Class Movement Library.  Consultation with colleagues and on site staff suggested that it may be worth investigating what was in the house before it was finally pulled down.   On arriving I realised much had already been removed by the ILP itself and others, on top of that the workmen had already started stripping out cables and pipes so there was quite a bit of damage. The window of opportunity to save the material was narrow but with the help of colleagues across the University we managed to get several boxes transfered into our special collection before the house was due to come down.

Although initially disappointing some of the material definitely was worth saving, especially bearing in mind our existing collection relating to the Cooperative movement.  The material has the potential to offer both a contrasting and complimentary view of socialism and related concerns, and certainly opens up the range of material in our collection.

The house despite the urgency to remove the material is still standing, gaining a brief reprieve. The demolition apparently halted, despite all the houses in the row being vacated,  by a lone trader selling pizzas.

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Dr Keith Rowntree

Keith Rowntree maintains the University's Archive and Special Collections which are currently held at the University’s Library, situated on our Headingley Campus. We collect, describe and preserve material for future generations while seeking to promote knowledge of, and access to this rich heritage for educational, professional and research purposes.

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