It concerns a lack of communication and unwillingness to be of assistance by the Bradford Council's district archaeologist (or regional, or community archaeo - or whatever title they come up with next), Gavin Edwards, following communications over nearly 2 months ago, with a simple query - and I've have got nowhere. The dood ignores questions, doesn't reply for weeks on end and then, when I've asked to speak to his employers, he's refused to send me their information. I've communicated with dozens of archaeologists over the years and found the vast majoroty of them very helpful indeed - but in this instance I've gotta say Mr Edwards is the worst one I've come across.
It started 2 months back...
I was fortunate in getting a set of the Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletins from the '50s and '60s, which outlines many little-known archaeological finds in and around Yorkshire. There's some damn good stuff in them! The editor of the magazine, Sidney Jackson, keeps making remarks in a number of the articles relating to their field-trips and outings, telling that photographs of the many sites were taken and that they "may be seen upon application to the Museum", i.e., Cartwright Hall Museum - including some on previously unknown stone circles, cup-and-rings, etc. Important stuff! And so I contacted Maggie Pedley, the Museums Manager for the Department of Regeneration and Culture of Bradford Council, aswell as Beverley Middleton, an Admin Officer of the same Department, asking if they could help locate these lost papers. They were both very helpful and replied within 24 hours.
But my stomach sank a bit when they each told me, "Gavin Edwards will be in touch shortly with a reply to your enquiry." Y' know the gut-feelings you sometimes get when you know you're not gonna get right far with someone? Well as it's transpired, the feeling was right...
And so I emailed Edwards, with the same enquiry asking about the unpublished articles. His response wasn't good, as he said, "The archaeology collection is currently suspended as a result of my secondment to the Watershed Landscapes Project." However he did follow this up by saying "I do retain some access to it, so if you let me know which references you are interested in I can check what there is when I am next over at the Manor House Museum."
I replied: "There's too much for me to list, so it'd be good if I could make an appointment to have look through whatever records there are. However, as a starter, there's..." and mentioned 3 of the files to be going on with. But I also added: "If the "archaeology collection is currently suspended", does this mean that nobody has access to look thru it? If you're not able to help due to your workload, please let me know of someone else who can help out. I've been spending a lotta time going thru a lot of old MSs lately, many unpublished, with the intent of putting it all on line, so enabling other researchers to access the vital information. It would be good to do the same with the unpublished Cartwright Hall material. If you are unable to do this, I'm very willing to put my time and effort into the work (you can lock me in whichever cellars and keep me chained there until all the work's done!). Surely this would be possible? If you'd like me to call over to either Keighley, or Ilkley and have a chat, I'd be most happy to do this."
He didn't respond to any of my questions, but instead "reminded me" that the Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletins were under the copyright of Bradford Museums and that I cannot reproduce them. But there's no copyright notice on any of them - and I'd have thought the man would be happy that someone's willing to do such work freely anyway. Weird... But this was deflecting from my initial queries. And so it seemed. After waiting 5 weeks, Edwards did not respond anymore and just ignored my queries/requests. And so I sent another friendly email after 5 weeks, saying:
"Just wondering if you've been able to find any of those unpublished "Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin" reports and photos I enquired about, a few weeks ago?"
Three days later he replied, saying:
"To be honest, except when it relates to an artefact in the collections, there usually isn't much more detail to what Sidney reported in the group bulletins, but I have identified a number of prints which I will scan and send through when I am next at the Manor House, which should be Tuesday. I will do so on the understanding that they are still the copyright of Bradford Museum Service.
As I tried to indicate in my earlier email, what there is is part of the services working records so it is not possible to access it as if it was an archive, it simply isn't structured that way. Apart from that we do have various complete or part collections of the Bulliten, which you already have, together with some of the original engravings and artwork he used to print it. Also, because I have been seconded to the Watershed Landscape project, the archaeology collection is currently suspended as nobody else has been tasked to curate it in my absence. I have however agreed to respond to some enquires when I can, but they do have to be very targeted, as I have very limited time to deal with them."
Three days later he asked me to confirm that I would not be putting any of the files into the public domain, or on-line. Seemed weird I thought, but I confirmed, "I will confirm that they are for personal use/research only." And then realised this wasn;t going anywhere, and so I specifically requested the details of his employer as I wanted to communicate with them. I added, "Just to make sure we're both clear on my request: I would like the specific contact details (i.e., names/s, email, phone number, address) of your employer."
Edward's reponse was a simple one: "I have passed your request on to my line management who will respond in due course" - which was not, as I pointed out, what I requested. On March 11, 2011, his final message told me, "The intention is for them to respond to you directly so you will have every opportunity to express and raise whatever concerns you might have."
I've heard nothing since. I've not had access to a single file from the unpublished Cartwright Hall material. No answers at all to any questions about who else I could perhaps speak to about this. Just Mr Edwards keeping his distance and being pretty unhelpful. I've asked if the collection could be passed onto Bradford Central Library (whilst he's busy elsewhere) so as to enable the public to view them. But nothing - bugger all - ignorance - no replies. Which surely isn't right?
If Edwards "is on secondment" to another Project, who else do Bradford Council get to cover his inabilities? Is he still being paid by the Council for his job as the community archaeo aswell as or on top of this other Project? Is he surely not supposed to act as a public servant? The impression seems to be that the fella is doing as little as he can be arsed to do, unless he's pushed. In which case, why the hell is he in this job? As one of his co-workers at Keighley Museum told me, "Gavin will do only as much as he thinks he needs to do."
Well this aint on. Simple as! In contacting and requesting info from other regional archaeologists over the last couple of months, they were brisk, helpful, emailed me files and answered specific questions. In other words, they did their jobs as written on their Terms & Condition of Employment. Surely Mr Edwards is supposed to inform me the details of his employers if I request it? If not, why not? Who's paying Mr Edwards, on whichever project he's doing? What's his wages? Is he value for money?
In all the years I've enquired for help from such notable institutions as the Bodleian, the British Library, and reference departments all over the country, I've always found them to be most helpful and responsive. Until now. Am I just wasting my time with this? I tried to access these files more than a decade back and came to same dead-end at Cartwright Hall itself. Now we have the internet, I can at least be a pest and ask more people. Does anyone here know what - if anything - can be done?
Yours hopefully - Paul
Last edited by Paulus on Sat Apr 09, 2011 2:43 pm; edited 1 time in total