Guest post written by Penny Beckett, Chair of the LI Archive Friend’s Group
As followers of this blog will be aware, the Landscape Institute transferred its archive to MERL in October of last year and is currently supporting MERL financially to work on the Institute’s collections and make them accessible.
As part of the terms of the transfer, it was agreed that a separate friends group should be established to support and advise either party when asked to do so. We held our inaugural meeting at MERL in February this year but chose the worst possible week to do so – a combination of flooding, high winds and travel disruption meant that some had to put off even attempting to travel to Reading while from others we received messages such as: ‘at the airport in Belfast, delayed by snow’; ‘the car broke down in Yorkshire’, ‘my apologies…heavily involved with flood issues…I serve on the Thames flood and coastal committee’. Despite the travel difficulties we still had a sufficient turnout to make the day a great success. Guy Baxter, the University’s Archivist, gave us a talk about work in progress and the mutual benefits derived from having our archive at Reading. The MERL staff laid out a wonderful display in the MERL reading room of some choice items from the Institute’s archive.
On the day a further important collection was brought to Reading. Hal Moggridge of Colvin and Moggridge donated the Brenda Colvin collection to the LI’s archive at MERL. Brenda Colvin, who died in 1981, was a founder member of the Institute of Landscape Architects (as the Landscape Institute was then known) and elected its first female President in 1951. Currently, she is less well known by the general public than her contemporaries, Sylvia Crowe and Geoffrey Jellicoe, but her influence was just as great on a whole generation of landscape professionals. Her collection will be a wonderful additional source of primary material for researchers at MERL.