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Happenings and goings on in the Archive and Study Centre: Events, researchers, discoveries, additions. For latest articles added to the Archive and Study Centre section of the website, click here.

6The description of Ethel Davies in Elizabeth Lloyd's unpublished book about the Caldecott Community begins "Ethel Davies was born in Liverpool in 1897, the youngest of two daughters of a well-to-do Ship's Chandler...."

For many generations of children who grew up at the Caldecott Community she was simply known as "Miss Dave"; and many of those generations will never have fully understood that she herself had been a child, and then a young woman, who shaped the nature and history of therapeutic child care in the 20th century, but whose life is otherwise largely unknown.

From 1931 until her death in 1974 she was a Co-Director of the Caldecott Community, and in his still unsurpassed 1971 book  Pioneer Work With Maladjusted Children, Maurice Bridgeland says of her, through the philtre of the Community's Founder Leila Rendel, "The effect of her personality and her rejection of dogma makes it difficult to analyse the principles and structures of her work. 'No theory is admitted by Miss Rendel, or her partner, Miss Davies, that has not been tried on the touchstone of many years' experience'." Not to mention the touchstone of many children's lives.

In these pictures, from the John Brown Collection, recently digitised by Barry Northam, the girl and the young woman stand out, the young woman surrounded by children. In her arms is an unnamed dog, perhaps the first (or second, or third?) in a line of companions who led to Miss D's golden retriever Silver, who was the mother of Leila Rendel's own Tess, known and celebrated by generations of post-War Caldecott children.

Let's have the research to help us understand this pioneer more fully. What about her growing up? What about her education? What about her family? What about her life before 1928, when she joined the Caldecott Community as a housekeeper. Assuming her year of birth is correct (Elizabeth Lloyd gives it as 1897, but on the back of the childhood photograph below it is given as 1895), she had just recently turned 30. How old is she in the photographs with children? Are they even Caldecott children? Was it she who introduced dogs famously into the Community?



Ethel Davies aged about 16






Elizabeth Lloyd writing about Ethel Davies: See here.

Maurice Bridgeland, Pioneer Work With Maladjusted Children, Staples Press (1971), p. 84. The Section is titled "Twentieth Century Originals".

On Tess and her mother Silver, see Barry Northam, "My Caldecott Memories".

For the most recent Caldecott Archive Weekend, where these photographs were digitised: See here.




1Thankyou to a small team of Caldecott Association members who joined us for another productive Archive Week, arriving on Sunday the 8th and leaving on the evening of Wednesday the 11th, just before the start of the England/Croatia game in Russia. Apparently the roads became fairly clear as match-time approached.

We still haven't counted up the numbers, but at least one oral history recording transcript was completed, and inroads made into three more. Cataloguing issues with photographs were sorted, some snags in past scanning discovered and corrected, at least 200 scans were added to the digital storage system, a query from Dorset Life magazine was responded to (look forward to an article on Hyde House, near Wareham, where the Caldecott Community lived between 1941 and 1947), a major website riddle was solved, and box-listing was begun for the entirety of the SA/CA (Societies and Associations/Caldecott Association) Collection, with some re-boxing thrown in for good measure.

The only sad news for the PETT team was learning of the death last year of Ley Melrose, the Caldecott housemother whose interview Craig recorded in 2010 for the "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project:

"I was born in 1930,  and it was just when the unrest, [prior to] the Spanish Civil War was getting to its height. The war didn't break out until about three years later, but it - I do remember hearing gunshots. I mean I was very, very small, but by three years I remember the gunshots and the sort of general atmosphere of something not right. I suppose I picked it up from my parents. My father decided that it wasn't very safe to be staying in Madrid, so we moved from Madrid, went up to Santander, and caught a boat to England, Southampton. I thought we were going to stay in England, but in fact we ended up in Gibraltar..." [HLF/CAL/020].

Ley gave us six 8mm films she made while she was at Caldecott in the 1950s, which were then digitised; between snow, water, sand, trees and home made swords, they show how very differently childhood was regarded, and survived; and perhaps something of why Caldecott children from that era appear to have such a secure sense of place and balance. The interview tells us something about the extraordinary people who were drawn to living and working at the Caldecott Community, and gave their lives to the children.

Among the photographs scanned were three from the John Brown Collection featuring Ethel Davies [for more of those, with unknown children and an unknown dog, see here]. One of our favourite surprises of the week was the fragment of a photograph preserved on the back of one of these: a small group of cows, long passed into history.

And Jean Costello - "Moley" - brought another lovely and light-filled painting;



"All that you have done for us all at PETT has just been so important to us and for me in particular the recordings were a way to talk about childhood experiences which generally have never been spoken about before and I have learnt a lot about Therapeutic Communities which I had never heard of before." Moley (Jean Costello)


Meanwhile, Gill Cook began her morning, before the Archive doors opened, weeding, and feeding the hippo (photographs by Barry Northam):

feeding time


Apparently it has become a Caldecott tradition to have photographs taken with Hippo.

job done


And people worked: Doors open and fans going (photographs not by Barry Northam; he has a genuinely good camera!).


Eileen and Gill, transcribing


Barry problem solving and scanning; Eileen transcribing; archive boxes accumulating

david kennardDavid Kennard


David Kennard is part and parcel of the Archive and Study Centre. Once a Trustee, he is author of the classic "An Introduction to Therapeutic Communities", intimately bound up in the formation and history of the Association of Therapeutic Communities (see, for example, here), and one of the few Clinical Psychologists in the therapeutic community world to have played with the legendary jazz musician Alexis Korner, himself a member of the therapeutic community world. For details on all that, see here and here.

He has bathed in the waters of the late swimming pool (see here), and carried on a long conversation with Bob Hinshelwood on the PETT Bi-Blog/Tri-blog (see here). You can listen to the person himself, because his 2008 Maxwell Jones Lecture, "Therapeutic Communities: - a natural impulse or evolving technology", is live on the RadioTC International/PETT website (see here).

But nothing holds a candle to the man in person, and though he described his visit to PETT this week (June 2018, week 2) as a 'pilgrimage', the reality is that the mountain in this case came to the Archive, bringing depths of wisdom and humour, and cores of crystal and granite. No saxophone this time, and we didn't record any oral history, although there was a lot of talking and the music of shared and divergent experience; but next time.

Thanks for coming.





We love a good segue, and it's a joy to move to our next visitor - from Jazz saxophonist David Kennard, via Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.

Bird was a short-term guest who invited itself into the large meeting room, on one of the warmer days when we were moving things, and had doors open for the cross-breeze. But really, this picture is just here for the beauty of the stone, the fall of light and shadow, and the bird's place in the composition. Being in an archive is fun.

It took some guiding. It was not a typical fluster of panic. It allowed itself to be caught and ushered out the open glass door it was standing beside. And standing outside it looked around as if to say "Gosh, that was easy", and then flew away.

Thankyou for being.

first computer


reel to reel1

reel to reel2


things discy

Top to bottom:


1. The Archive's first computer. A secondhand Atari, with a sweet external hard drive, as big as the computer itself. In the days before a computer was an essential in an Archive, and before PCs and Macs squeezed Atari out of the home and office computer race. A beautiful machine.


2. A domestic reel to reel tape recorder, part of the collection of playback technologies, built up by the early Archive to read formats slipping into obsolescence: 8 and 16mm film projectors; Acorn and Amstrad computers; BetaMax and VHS videotape players; floppy disk drives (see picture below). Acquired in the heady days before the Internet, when the future was analogue, and an archive had to have some way to read new materials coming in to it.


3. A Peto Scott reel to reel tape recorder. Out of an attic, found by word of mouth, and cheap at the time.


4. A floppy disk drive pre-usb. Amstrad? Built like a tank.


 Things have a beauty of their own, and don't need any narration. But they do have stories. These, and many others, are coming out of their places of storage to be counted. Some will become part of the Archive museum collections; some will be dispersed to new homes; some will remain in rare use. Each has the interesting scent of a Time. Some have been touched and used by the greats in our field.

box city

What is it?

First thing Friday morning Assistant Archivist Jen Galloway drove in to the Archive and Study Centre car park. She stopped. We had a group coming in the afternoon. She had a full-day planned, continuing the survey of archive collections to bring a higher level of order to the impending Transition. Archivist Craig was at home, working on the computer there. But.

One black tardis is a marvel, bordering on joy.


Jen, feeling the plans for the day slipping away, approached them. They were inert. They didn't move. They gave no sign of sentience.

She sent an email to Craig, which never arrived. (Well, it did; he just wasn't checking). "Craig, the boxes have arrived." In England it can rain at any time. 500 specialist archive boxes. pH balanced. Brass stapled. Half-length lids for a maximum combination of closure and contents security, and open-ability.


Improvise. Adapt. Come on.

jen and boxes

Don't mess with an archivist.

500 boxes? Impending rain? Group coming to do meditation and yoga? Pah! If you want a massive task done, which verges on the impossible, call an archivist.

Boxes towering over her and safely inside, Craig finally arrived, in time to take the picture.

All over and everything away.  Essential tools: a few hours and a sense of humour.

Pallets ditched. Black shrouds binned. Store room filled. Nothing left behind. Silence and the welcoming emptiness of a space ready for our guests.

Being an Assistant Archivist: Just another day.