In the days before word limits

As many masters and PhD students will be all to well aware, word limits are the bane of their lives, often leading to dilemmas over what to keep in and what leave out. However, searching through the NPA’s collections today we’ve come across the original manuscript of Iain C Walker PhD thesis Clay Tobacco Pipes, with particular reference to the Bristol Industry, which was submitted in 1973 (LIVNP 2014.01.034/035).  Quite a hefty tome when compared to Susan White’s PhD thesis, submitted in 2002 (LIVNP 2005.14.01), which was still well over the 100,000 word limit that is set for todays PhD students.

So bear a thought for those poor supervisors “back in the day” who had a little more reading to do than their modern day counterparts!

Walker’s 1973 PhD thesis (LIVNP 2014.01.034/035) compared to White’s 2002 PhD thesis (LIVNP 2005.14.01).
Iain C Walker PhD thesis 1973 (LIVNP 2014.01.034-035)

Atkinson’s Notebooks

Atkinson Notebooks (LIVNP 2012.02.216-232).

When David Atkinson sadly passed away at the end of 2011 he left behind a legacy of over 50 years of published pipe research as well as a large quantity of notes, correspondence, books and a huge reference collection of pipes that he had amassed over the years.  The National Pipe Archive (NPA) worked with members of David’s family to secure this collection for the benefit of future generations and in 2012 it was donated to the NPA.  Simply preparing a proper catalogue of the collection will be a major undertaking for the Archive, and one that may well take many years to complete.  In the meantime, we are compiling a brief overview of the range of material that the collection contains (Accession number LIVNP 2012.06), which should be available shortly.

One of the elements of the paper archive that is of particular interest, are 17 small hard backed notebooks containing drawings and information on pipes from various parts of the country.  The drawings of the bowl forms and marks are of good quality and provide a valuable reference source for anyone researching the products of a particular area.  There are two books covering Bristol pipes; four on Broseley, Shropshire; six on London; one on Salisbury/Malborough; one on Somerset; one on Sussex and two miscellaneous volumes.

As part of the current HE funded project we have digitised some of these notebooks.  We’ve scanned in the notebooks from Salisbury/Marlborough (LIVNP 2012.06.216); Sussex (LIVNP 2012.06.217) and Somerset (LIVNP 2012.06.218).  These will be available on the website very shortly.

Selected pages from Atkinson’s notebooks. Left is page 30 from the Marlborough and Salisbury notebook (LIVNP 2012.06.216) showing Jeffry Hunt marks c.1650-1680 from Norton St Philip and Devizes.  Right is page 13 from the Sussex notebook (LIVNP 2012.06.217) showing two IH marked pipes, possibly John Harman of Lewes (c. 1760-1780).


And we’re off……

Welcome to the new blogsite of the National Pipe Archive.  We’re going through a bit of a steep learning curve as we are new to the whole concept of blogging, so you may need to bear with us.

So what’s happening? we hear you ask.  Well, we have been lucky enough to receive some funding from Historic England to work on a project called Clay Tobacco Pipes for Field Archaeology.  The aim of project is to provide a single reference point for field archaeologists and others by drawing together and making available some of the key reference elements from the NPA and providing guidelines for dealing with pipe assemblages.  We hope to provide an easy-to-use digital resource to allow efficient, and sufficiently accurate, processing, identification and dating of clay pipes.

When’s all this likely to happen?  Well, we’re working on it.  Clearly this isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, but scanning of some of the material is already underway. So watch this space.

At the moment we’ve got this blog site linked to our current website – – be kind when you look at this, it’s not the best website you’ve ever seen or used but we are working on that too.  As part of the project the website will be overhauled, so bear with us.

We are all very excited about the project and looking forward to sharing with you some of the amazing resources the NPA has, so keeping checking back with us over the coming weeks and months.