Historic Documents Preserved as Part of Major Conservation Work by Archivists; PLAYBILLS, MAPS AND OTHER ITEMS OF VALUE RESTORED FOR PROJECT

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Byline: RACHAEL MISSTEAR West Wales Editor rachael.misstear@walesonline.co.uk

PLAYBILLS from 19th-century theatre productions, documents about Welsh links with the slave trade and maps of land ownership dating back 500 years have two things in common.

All are being restored as part of a major new conservation project - and all give a unique insight into life in Wales in previous centuries.

Funding of more than PS38,000 will be distributed to six Welsh archive services to do vital conservation work on items in their collections.

It means items such as 19th-century posters of the playbills from Theatre Royal, Cardiff, held at Glamorgan Record Office, will be given a new lease of life.

The collection consists of production posters bound into nine annual volumes, spanning a decade from 1885.

Although printed, many of the items were never published and represent the sole surviving records for the theatre for these years.

Charlotte Hodgson, deputy archivist in Glamorgan, said its conservation project, called Curtain Up, would see the delicate posters protected for future generations. She said: "Probably compiled as printer's proofs, the volumes are an unusually complete series for productions at the theatre." There are no significant collections of Welsh language playbills produced by a professional performance group or theatre in Wales.

It is hoped the restoration work, commissioned by the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (NMCT), will make the historic pieces more accessible to the public.

Aberystwyth University, Anglesey Archives, Bangor University, Ceredigion Archives, Glamorgan Record Office and Powys County Archives Office will all see work to restore some of their most precious items. Access to the papers has previously been either restricted or impossible due to their delicate conditions.

It is hoped that their conservation will make them accessible to local users, students and researchers.

At Aberystwyth University, music manuscripts from the university archive, mainly from the Powell collection, will be restored.

The collection - donated to the newly founded University College Wales in the 1870s by George Powell of Nanteos - includes work from major composers including Guglielmi, Sarti, Salieri, Martini and Puignotti. …