6 June 2015: Margaret Bird wins a national award for research and publication

Margaret Bird, currently working on the four volumes of commentary and analysis to be entitled Mary Hardy and her World, has won a national award for research which will feature in those volumes.

Her 15,000-word study ‘Supplying the beer’ has been judged the overall winner in the long-articles category by the British Association for Local History (BALH). It originally appeared in The Glaven Historian, the journal of the Blakeney Area Historical Society (no. 14 (2014), pp. 2–29).

It has also been published in an abridged form in the BALH’s own journal, The Local Historian, in October 2015 (vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 295–311); there was however room for only three of the original article’s 28 illustrations.

‘A most interesting and innovative article’

Dr Alan Crosby, editor of The Local Historian, told the 100-strong audience at the BALH’s annual Local History Day that the judges bore a number of factors in mind when compiling the list of contenders for the research and publication awards, which have been granted annually since 1991.

A drayhorse in 1799

A drayhorse eases his muscles at the end of a beer delivery, his cart and driver in the background

These included the quality of the writing, the diversity of the sources and the range and clarity of the citations and references. The judges were also looking for the ability to set local material in a wider context. They considered Margaret Bird’s treatment of distribution by road, ‘Supplying the beer: life on the road in late-18th-century Norfolk’, to be ‘a most interesting and innovative article’.

Alan Crosby saw the principal sources, the diaries of Mary Hardy and Henry Raven, as highly unusual in their precision. Historians of that period were aware that goods and produce were carried to market on a regular basis, and goods flowed back into the villages, but through the diarists’ eyes we are presented with a wealth of detail. We learn about the draymen and their horses; also about the retail outlets they supplied. Some of the public houses are still in business and can be sampled today.

The British Association for Local History

BALH award to Margaret Bird

The President of the British Association for Local History, Prof. David Hey, with Margaret Bird at the awards ceremony 2015 [photograph by David Griffiths: reproduced courtesy the BALH]

The ceremony formed part of the BALH’s Local History Day, held in 2015 on 6 June at The Priory Rooms, Quaker Meeting House, 40 Bull Street, Birmingham. More than a hundred people attended from a large number of local history societies and groups. Details can be found on the BALH website. The awards were presented by the society’s President, Professor David Hey.

You can read more about the BALH award under Mary Hardy’s Diary. As well contributing an article, Margaret Bird had given a talk to the Blakeney Area Historical Society in April 2014 on ‘Supplying the beer’; details can be found on the Burnham Press website.

The winner of the BALH short-articles category in 2015 was James H. Thomas for his study ‘County, commerce and contacts: Hampshire and the East India Company in the eighteenth century’. This appeared in Hampshire Studies, vol. 68 (2013), pp. 169–77.