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July 2017

I am Mollie, the Archive Assistant Trainee. When choosing a document of the month, I usually end up rooting through boxes which I have never encountered but which have an interesting label. This month I was looking through the business records and found a box in the Wolseley section which had been labelled as 'miscellaneous'. Although this label is generally an archivist’s nightmare, it is usually good for finding weird and wonderful objects which just do not fit in anywhere else. This is how I found our only copy of the
in-house Wolseley social magazine, 'The Trail', which has the intriguing subtitle 'The Monthly Magazine of the Wolseley Rover Scouts, Wolseley Athletic Club, and Ordnance Athletic and Recreation Club'.

Why this document?

I have been brought up in a very sport orientated household. Staunch Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club supporters surrounded me growing up so I've always been interested in records which relate to sport. Surprisingly, these documents are quite common in the BMIHT Archive. Companies actively encouraged competitive sport, particularly between departments and with other companies, to inspire camaraderie and friendly rivalries as well as giving employees something to do outside of the factory. Wolseley Motors was one of the forerunners in this field and was responsible for the sprawling network of societies collectively known as 'The Wolseley Athletic Club' (WAC). Due to limited documentation it's difficult to ascertain when the WAC was formed but, given that the magazine was published in November 1919 and is vol. 1, no.10, we can assume that it was in existence before February 1919.

The magazine includes submitted essays on a wide variety of subjects such as 'Tools: Their History and Uses', 'The Magpie Moth' and 'First Aid Lecture X: Treatment of Fractures'. There is also a jokes page and a section of 'Things We Want To Know' – something which confused us greatly! The section appears to be a set of musings by someone called The Watcher who wonders 'Why Miss Smith is so contrary?' and 'Does George remember getting home after the wedding party?'. Without the context, we don't know who these people were and why The Watcher wanted to know about them!

The aspect which interested me most though was the wide array of clubs which Wolseley sponsored, and not just in the sports arena. The magazine covers the following – angling, football, swimming, diving, boxing, scouting, bowling, hockey, billiards, snooker, whist, a male voice choir, band practice, and a chemistry class. This clearly indicates that the employees of Wolseley Motors had a great choice of recreational activities. They were kept up to date with the dates and times of the events by fixtures printed in the magazine.

From the magazine we can see that Wolseley also catered for its female employees and in 1919 there would have been many women in the factory still covering for the shortage of men such a short time after the end of World War One. This issue features a request from E. Horlick to expand the range of sports available to women in the Aero works from swimming and tennis to include hockey. Hockey was already played by some sections of the company as the magazine features a write up of the match between the Ward End mixed team and the Kalamazoo paper factory team – unfortunately Kalamazoo won by five goals!