Posted by: kbenoy | November 16, 2011

Cataloguing the Queen Square Syndicate records

This week I have been cataloguing the records of the Queen Square Syndicate. The Queen Square Syndicate was a client of Smith, Son & Wilkie and was set up in 1907 for the purpose of the Queen Square Improvement. It was made up of a group of prominent local businessmen from many of the high-profile Wolverhampton families. Sir Charles Tertius Mander acted as chairman for the Syndicate, with Albert Baldwin Bantock, Stephen Craddock, Harry Beresford Jones and F. J. J. Gibbons as the original directors.

Attendance List at the first Shareholders Meeting

They made an agreement with Wolverhampton Corporation to lease 2200 square yards of land fronting to Queen Square, Wolverhampton, in consideration of the Queen Square Syndicate erecting a Public House, Shops and other buildings in place of the existing buildings. The rent was agreed at £800 per annum for 77 years from Christmas 1907. Part of this agreement included demolition of the existing property and the rebuilding of new properties further back from the road, to widen the street from Queen Square into Victoria Street.

Plan of the area being leased by the Queen Square Syndicate

Fred T. Beck was the architect who designed the new buildings, completed in 1910, providing an attractive shopping arcade and office space. By the early 1960s, Queens Arcade had fallen out of favour with shoppers and into disrepair.

Queen Square Improvement drawing by Fred T. Beck

In 1961 it was decided to sell the leasehold property that made up Queens Arcade to Manders Holdings Ltd for £262,755. Later that year the Queen Square Syndicate went into voluntary liquidation with a payment made to shareholders of £200 per share. The area was then redeveloped again, this time into the Mander Centre.

This is a really interesting set of records as they include information on prominent businessmen of Wolverhampton, the history of the Queens Arcade and details on the people and shops who were based in the Queens Arcade. This collection is very comprehensive and includes all the minutes for the meetings of Directors and the meetings of the Shareholders, records of members and shareholders, ledgers and various correspondence.

Some particularly interesting records include the sheets used to record the payments of rent from 1954 – 1957. These sheets included the details of the property being rented, name of the tenant, the rate of the rent, quarterly payments, and notes on the lease. The first sheet gives details of the tenants of the Queen Arcade and the second sheet gives details of the people and businesses renting offices in Queens Arcade Chambers.

Queen Square Syndicate Rent Sheet before conservation

These sheets were in poor condition from years of use and poor storage before coming to the archives. Jon started by flattening the sheets and carefully removing the attached rent sheets from the main sheet.

Rent payment sheets after removal

 Jon then took the main sheet and backed it with some thermal paper, carefully smoothing out all the torn edges. He tacked the edges then put the whole sheet into the thermal press to ensure the backing was completely affixed.

Affixing the edges of the Rent Sheet to the thermal backing

 

The thermal press

Jon then trimmed the edges so the backing was the same size as the original sheet and reattached the rent payment sheets for the individual years using some tissue. The tissue attachment allowed the sheets to be affixed in their original position without obscuring any of the text.

Cutting the tissue to size to attach the rent sheets

 

Affixing the rent sheets with tissue

Once complete, Jon made a custom folder to allow the rent sheets to be stored flat and prevent future damage.

Rent Sheets after conservation

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