Archive of Programmes and Documents

Charlton Museum Trustee Paul Baker explains how the museum are currently in the process of digitalising their huge archive of programmes and documents

First Published in Valley Review 24th November 2018

Most Charlton supporters are aware of the Charlton Museum and probably know about some of its most treasured artefacts which include medals, 1998 Play-off items, shirts, photographs and of course one of the Valley’s original floodlights. The Museum is also fortunate to have a fine collection of documents and programmes most of which cannot be displayed due to lack of space. The documents include Minute Books, Line-Up books, and a good collection of Programmes. In order to provide better access to these documents we are in the process of digitising them so that access can be easily gained initially from the Museum’s computer, and later from an updated website.

The Museum has six Minute Books which cover the period 1921 to 1982. The first book provides a fascinating insight into the problems associated with building a ground and running a football league team. The first page in the book is from the meeting held on 19th August 1921 and shows the members of the “Late Committee” being granted Life Membership (which was later rescinded). Within a few short months it becomes apparent that the directors had completely underestimated the costs of such a venture. Board meetings invariably discussed ways of raising funds and deciding which debts could be paid and which deferred. In September 1922, the secretary, Arthur Brandon, resigned, “I beg to tender my resignation as Secretary of the Company, owing to the position, as far an I am concerned, having become untenable. The position is that from time to time, I, upon your behalf, arrange for certain services to be rendered to the Company by various Tradesmen, but I can hardly over succeed in inducing the Chairman to meet these liabilities. I regret therefore that I am unable to serve vender these conditions any longer, and ask to be released at your earliest convenience.” The culmination of these pressures resulted in the disastrous move to Catford. There is a gap in the minute books from 1923-1925 as the relevant book was unfortunately destroyed by fire in suspicious circumstances on 1st January 1925. We wonder if there are any relatives of these pioneers still following the club. If there are, we would be delighted to hear from them.

Five of the Minute books have already been professionally copied and the remaining book (1946-1956), which was recently obtained by the Museum is currently being copied. The first book has been put through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to produce a fully searchable pdf document.

The line-up books have been mentioned in the programme many times, as they contain Jimmy Seed’s insightful comments into the team and players’ performance. The Museum has 12 books, covering 1934 – 1963 and which cover first, reserve and junior matches. These are useful in providing definitive information on teams and goalscorers but also cover a number of foreign tours, including Sweden, France and South America. The handwritten notes on these tours read like a diary and show the enormous responsibility placed on Jimmy Seed at that time. Luckily the books continued for some time after Seed’s departure. The extract shown is from May 1954 from a tour to South America. Despite Seed’s comment about Millionarious being, “a great footballing side”, Charlton held on to a 2-2 draw.

The Museum is fortunate to have a large programme collection – most of which has been donated by supporters. Currently we are scanning the programmes with the intention of building as big a digital archive as possible. At the present time all first team programmes from 1945 – 1972 have been processed together with many earlier programmes dating from as far back as 1913. These scans include a number of programmes loaned by supporters – effectively helping us to build a virtual digital repository. The programme shown is the only known programme from the 1940/1 season, and the instruction in the event of an air raid provide a reminder of life at this time. In fact, there was an air raid during the match and the players were forced to leave the field before the scheduled interval. Unsurprisingly, only 632 people attended the game.

We also have a number of photos, scrapbooks and other documents and these will be added to the digital archive as time permits.

If any supporters have items they think would be a good addition to the archive, please contact us. We are particularly keen to fill gaps in early wartime programmes (1939-1943) and early pre-war first team programmes as well as reserve programmes including 1976-1978.

First Published in Valley Review 24th November 2018

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