Thanks goodness for collectors! You might call them daft but they are a godsend for archivists and archive collections.
Recently, Midlothian Local Studies has completed a catalogue for a collection once owned by Eric Basden.
Eric B Basden lived at 7 Leyden Park, Bonnyrigg with his wife Joan and four children. He was a keen entomologist, and a member of the Bonnyrigg and Lasswade District Horticultural and Industrial Society. He was active in local affairs and his collection reflects his interests, including horticulture, local shops, businesses, the annual Civic Week, and clubs and societies in Bonnyrigg and Lasswade.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Eric collected a huge amount of ephemera from the Bonnyrigg area. This included advertising leaflets from local shops and businesses, political leaflets, newsletters, membership cards and calendars, even books of bingo tickets and brown paper bags. Few people would consider saving this kind of material which is normally just thrown away.
Fortunately, Basden kept it and it was donated to Midlothian Local Studies after his death. It provides a fascinating snapshot of life in Bonnyrigg in the 1970s, a typical Scottish town of its day.
Amongst the collection is a series of fact sheets called ‘Compar-a-cost’. These were produced by the local council in the 1970s and compared the prices of basic groceries in local shops. Inflation and rising prices were one of the big issues of the 1970s and here local people could compare prices. In December 1975, a tin of baked beans cost 11½p in Nobles of Bonnyrigg but 15½p in St Cuthbert’s of Mayfield.
Another typical item is a receipt for Allan Forrest, Grocer and Fruiterer, High Street, Bonnyrigg. Eric Basden has added a note to the receipt stating that he asked the four members of staff to sign it the day before the business closed for good (15 May 1976).
The collection includes two scrapbooks of local small ephemera, such as bus tickets, raffle tickets, business cards and invitations.
The collection also holds some internment notices from Lasswade cemetery dating from 1916 onwards. Basden probably rescued these from somebody’s bin.
Eric Basden died in 1984, having been a Midlothian man and pillar of the local community for all of his life.
The only worying thing about this collection is that if you are of a certain vintage, the 1970s don’t seem that long ago but the decade is rapidly becoming the stuff of archives.