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In this issue:
  1. The Future of the Archive and Study Centre
  2. Thankyou Wellcome Trust
  3. New on the Website
  4. A busy time in the Archive
  5. From our Facebook Page: Tam Martin and the Winterbourne Therapeutic Community...
  6. Meg Roberton and a community in The Gambia
PETT eNewsletter 30 / November 13, 2017


Open discussion: That tantalising moment before the people appear.
Photograph by Stephen Gavin (used with thanks)
It has been almost five months since the last full Newsletter. As the Newsletters have been coming out monthly, that tells its own story. We have been immensely busy. Part of that is the impending Transition - the move of the Archive to the auspices of the Mulberry Bush Organisation. Please see the note below. And please accept our apologies for all the time-critical notices and information which we have not been able to pass along. Among these was a Crowdfunder for a film on Desperate Men. If you haven't come across these members of our community, do yourself a treat: sneak preview HERE.

1. The future of the Archive and Study Centre

Preparing the groundwork to move an Archive and Study Centre to an adjacent county would be a big undertaking, whatever the circumstances. When it has been in place for almost thirty years, and when it has built a new kind of archive service out of therapeutic community theory and practice, it takes on even more dimensions, and questions, and a variety of community involvements.

You can help to ask and answer some of those questions and give your vision of the future at a special Stakeholders Visioning Day, to be held at the Mulberry Bush School in Standlake, Oxfordshire, on Friday November 24, at 11.00 a.m. for an 11.30 start. If using your SatNav, the post code is OX29 7RW. It is intended to end the day at 15:00.

If you can't be there, PETT Trustees are asking for your memories, thoughts, ideas and visions by email or letter. The email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The surface address is P.E.T.T., Church Lane, Toddington near Cheltenham, Glos. GL54 5DQ.

More details will be sent tomorrow (Tuesday, November 14). The letter from PETT about the move is here, where there are also details about how to get involved: "A secure future for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre".

2. Thankyou Wellcome Trust

Just to prove how much can happen in five months: Since the last newsletter we have applied to the Wellcome Trust for a Research Resources in Medical History Scoping Grant, been awarded it, and welcomed an intense week-long visit from a consultant conservator and consultant archivist giving an indepth picture of the current state, and urgent and future needs of the archive, as it moves towards a new future. Thankyou to everyone who supported the application with letters giving their experience of the collections and their value for future academic research, and particularly: Prof. Jonathan Reinarz of Birmingham University, Dr. David Jones of the Open University, and Dr. Lesley Caldwell of the University of Greenwhich.

3. New on the website

Five months is a long time! A lot of web-pages. We know how hard that makes it to go in and look at them: The Paradox of Abundance! But why not give yourself, and us, the pleasure of going through them, in these times of Austerity? They're in chronological/appearance order:
  • Archival Not-So Pleasures: Not before lunch, please. Appraisal and minor conservation of a collection which had been discovered by rats: Strange pleasures of the archive profession.
  • Reinden Wood House plaque one year on. With the inspiration of Damien McLellan, we created and installed a plaque alongside a popular wooded walking trail in Kent in June 2016 to commemorate Reinden Wood House therapeutic community. It was in an area notorious for vandalism. A year later, how has the plaque fared?
  • Archival Privileges... Travelling down to Kent to celebrate the life of James King of the Caldecott Community, and to record memories.
  • Most popular downloads of June 2017: Celebrating 20 years of the PETT website. The PETT Archive and Study Centre went live in 1997. It was one of the earliest in the British archives world. A doughty and precocious David in a world of future Goliaths. We also deliver content on a variety of other websites, from Wennington School and Red Hill School to the Royal College of Psychiatrists'.
  • John Robert Leal Cross, 1931-2017. Sharing the death and the details of the meeting for worship for John Cross, long-standing trustee of PETT, Director and Chair for many years.
  • Archival Pleasures: Walking home from work and back, with music. Blackberries, bees, rain, river, cattle and birds. Most archives are in cities. Why?
  • Most Popular downloads of July 2017. I wonder if you can begin to imagine how much pleasure we get out of sharing these recordings, archives and publications with you? If they are of value and pleasure for you, that is something to tell us about. Go back up to the top of this Newsletter, and write an email or letter to PETT. Or you can do it from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Monkton Wyld School - the book... Apologies to the author Charles Bevan. This notice about his book, trying to see if there was enough interest to justify his re-publishing it, should have appeared in a newsletter months ago.
  • John Cross (1931-2017): Looking ahead to 2018 and An Appreciation. PETT Director Richard Rollinson invites everyone to an event at PETT on April 14 2018 to celebrate the life and work of John Cross.
  • Digitising the history and heritage of the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy. PETT's Archive and Study Centre led the therapeutic community field digitally for some time, building websites and solving problems for therapeutic communities and organisations, from prisons to hospitals. We continue to use our resources to help other charities and small community organisations. Should this be a valued part of our future role? Let the Trustees know what you think.
  • "Why keep that book?" Why keep anything of no immediate, practical value? Because sometimes the past saves lives, or a near equivalent.
  • Bob Lawton. Archivist Craig Fees says goodbye to one of those "maladjusted" children who enters your life and transforms it.
  • Archival Pleasures: Walking to Work: October 2017. A dreich and drear day? I don't know. My stomach just goes all funny, in a good way.
  • Gardens, plants and therapeutic environments: The Charlton Court fig. A guest blog by former Red Hill School student Peter Still.
  • "A secure future for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre", Letter from the Trust, 3 October 2017. At points of transition, the future is in your hands. Read the letter. Comment on the future.
  • What is a planned environment therapy Archive and Study Centre? We have been answering that question by practice and example for almost 30 years, winning a couple of awards on the way. This is part of a new series which tries to put some of it into words. If you have participated in the life and work of the Archive and Study Centre, you will have your own understanding of what that is - and this is the time to share it!
  • A poem for Neill Edwards, written November 2017. This one is filed on the website under "Archival Pleasures, Dilemmas and Consolations". Another one of those "maladjusted" children. Who in their right mind would not want an Archive in which the "maladjusted" and the academic researcher both feel at home? (Prof. Lawrence Friedman wrote to former PETT Director John Cross in 1999, " As you have probably already discovered, I regard Church Lane in Cheltenham as my British research home and look forward to returning for another good research stint.” Neill returned time and again, by phone. The loss, with his death, is indicated in this poem).
  • Blast from the past: "What a Lovely Place" (2002). Part of the Looking Back, Looking Forward series. "The archives are mindboggling...this resource belongs to everyone..."

4. A busy time in the Archive

Reflecting on the past, looking ahead, and preparing the future take a surprising amount of time, especially if you have a full plate in the present! Here is some of the feast that has been on the table over the past four months:
  • Grendon oral history project. It has been 55 years since HMP Grendon opened as what is still Europe's only all-therapeutic community prison. For its first 20 or so years (there was a difficult interregnum after the second Medical Director, Dr. Jillett, died unexpectedly) it was a Medical-led establishment. In a radical change, from 1984 it has been led by a prison service Governor. All five Governors who have served since 1984 are alive, well, and active, and at the instigation of the first - Michael Selby - we have been invited to carry out a series of targetted oral history interviews with each. It is under-way! What a wonderful learning experience, and - rather pleasingly, from a cricket aesthetic point of view -, the interview with current Governor Jamie Bennett was number CF1234.
  • Additions to the oral history collections. The Grendon recordings contributed to a total of 28 new recordings added by the Archive to the collections during this period. We now have well over 3,000 audio and video recordings in the oral/visual history collections. Archivist Craig Fees's contribution to this is currently four shy of 1,400, divided between oral history interviews proper, recordings of events and occasions, and occasional simultaneous recordings of events (especially in big rooms, with recording devices placed at either end).
  • Researchers and Visitors.
    • The longest-travelled researcher during this period was Lisa Farley of Canada's York University, who spent several days with us, and with Barbara Dockar Drysdale, Squiggle Foundation recordings, and things Winnicott generally. Caryn Onions of the Mulberry Bush School visited the collections, as did Cynthia Cross and Charles Sharpe, and officers of the Metropolitan Police.
    • We always look forward to the now-annual retreat of the Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile (please check out their website HERE), who shared more than a week with us this time; the Wennington School Old Scholars Association Committee shared part of a weekend with us, and the Association's liaison with PETT, Richard Schofield, visited more recently; Joan Pritchard, former Chair of SEBDA, brought the new Chair, David Colley, to see the place and to meet the Archive and Study Centre; Diana Menzies and Kingsley Norton gave us an overnight visit to pilot a future Henderson Hospital Archive Event; and HMP Send's Vicky Gavin and her husband Stephen dropped in with Carolyn Mears (with thanks to Stephen for the photographs with this newsletter!).
    • Former assistant archivist Matt Naylor spent 10 days here digitising audio and photographic materials from the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy archives (see webpage link above).
  • Caldecott Archive Week. One of the richest Caldecott Archive Weeks yet - they continue to grow and teach in so many ways. Recordings, scans, cataloguing, transcribing, enriching our world.
  • Funerals and celebrations. For Caldecott's James King in Kent, PETT's John Cross in Gloucestershire, New Barns's Liz Lal in Warwickshire, and Caldecott's Bob Lawton in Wales. Emotionally it has been a tough year.
  • Learning and Discovery. But of course it has also been a learning time. Assistant Archivist Jen Galloway has expanded her repertoire of knowledge through a Fundraising Workshop and a Preventing Pests Workshop, and she and Archivist Craig Fees both attended Gloucestershire Archive's groundbreaking Child Care Records Conference. Craig also had two days in Edinburgh with the annual meeting of tutors for Dundee University's Centre for Archive and Information Studies.
  • Ending with a bang: Oral History Events at PETT and Birmingham University.
    • We took advantage of a precious visit by PETT Fellow Carolyn Mears to hold two oral history events around traumatic experience and oral history theory and practice generally. Under the auspices of the Oral History Society's Psycho-Social Therapies and Care Environments Special Interest Group we held a one-day seminar at PETT, with psychiatrist and Squiggle Foundation Director Adrian Sutton, Carolyn Mears, psychiatrist and PhD student Tom Harrison, archivist Craig Fees, and (by video link from London), oral historian and broadcaster Alan Dein: very lively, trenchant, and successful.
    • Carolyn was then the key-note speaker on the following day, in a day-long seminar on oral history held in the post-graduate centre at the University of Birmingham. The seminar was elegantly organised by Kanako Kuramitsu of the School of History and Cultures at Birmingham University, chaired by Tom Harrison, with Prof. Jonathan Reinarz, Prof. Sabine Lee, and Craig Fees as discussants. Kanako presented on her experience in interviewing children born of consensual relationships between Japanese fathers and Chinese mothers during the Japanese occupation of China during the long Second World War, and her colleague in the Children Born of War Network, Lisa Haberkern, presented her experience of interviews in relation to a displaced persons camp in Poland.
An immensely rewarding time!


Tam Martin and the Winterbourne Therapeutic Community...

"Hello. I have found you today while searching for information about the Winterbourne Therapeutic Community, at which I was a patient in 1990, while it was still situated at Fair Mile Hospital, Cholsey. "TC" transformed my life, reunited me with my children and restored in me the ability to function in the world. I subsequently trained to be a therapist and now work internationally with individuals and groups in various contexts. I have just written a blog referencing TC (CLICK HERE) - please share with anyone who might be interested) and would be delighted to share my experience of the profound richness and growth I gained there should it be of use... Here is the link that led me to your site (CLICK HERE) . I remember Jean Rees with great fondness, and am so sorry to learn of her death.

6. Meg Roberton and a community in The Gambia

Earlier this year we had a letter from Meg Roberton.

Meg Roberton's father Kenneth Roberton was a friend and colleague of PETT Founding Trustee David Wills, OBE. During World War II, Kenneth worked with David at Barns House in Scotland. He then took responsibility for a hostel for refugee/immigrant Jewish youth, and later became warden of Ashley House in Bristol, where he continued to develop the planned environment therapy/David Wills approach with young people in care. There is a helpful obituary in The Scotsman (HERE), and oral history recordings with Kenneth by David Gribble and Craig Fees in the Archive collections.

Meg herself was imbued from an early age, in her own words, "with David Will's ethos of 'love and approval, no punishment', and have practiced it throughout my life as a parent, foster parent, community and professional social worker."

She has also been engaged for the past twenty years with a rural community in The Gambia where, in 2001, she bought a three acre walled garden with simple housing and outbuildings, which has been transformed "into an organic and safe environment in which indigenous flora, fauna and wildlife thrive. It has also naturally developed as a place of employment, accommodation, education and refuge for many young people and is now ripe to enter a new phase of focused development for the alternative education and support of young people within the community."

To support this movement of therapeutic community through the generations, beyond walls, and into other countries, or simply to learn more about it, see Meg's website, Nature Garden Gambia, HERE.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen Gavin