Atkinson Brierley architectural archive

A plan from the Atkinson Brierley archive

In 2011, the Borthwick Institute received a generous grant from the Shepherd Trust to assist in the conservation of the Atkinson-Brierley architectural archive.

The earliest material in the archive dates from the first years of the 19th century, and the last material dates from the 1950s.

A plan from the Atkinson Brierley archive

The practice was based in York, and built and restored many buildings that we are still familiar with today: Ouse Bridge, York Central Library (Explore Centre), Gert and Henrys Café in The Shambles are just three well-known examples.

The practice worked throughout the UK, and built churches, banks, police stations, racecourse stands, villas, cottages and country houses.

Many of the plans are currently difficult to access and handle due to significant dirt and physical damage. The overall project aims to improve access to the plans and increase the physical stability of the collection through cleaning, packaging and repair where necessary.

A plan from the Atkinson Brierley archive

There are two main strands to the project.

Firstly, a volunteer group has been set up to surface clean the collection, which is a formidable task – there are 679 rolls and more than 6315 plans. This is work that could not be done without our volunteers.

Secondly, within the Conservation workshop the conservators are treating some of what could be considered the most vulnerable plans: the brittle and fragmentary tracing papers.

A plan from the Atkinson Brierley archive

To support both of these tasks a conservation technician has been employed. Their role is to relieve the conservators of some of the time-consuming day-to-day tasks that can prevent them from being able to conserve the damaged plans. The technician also supports and manages the volunteer group.

Between the volunteers, technician and conservators we hope to substantially improve the well-being of this significant and fascinating archive.