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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!


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Thanks to Anke for spotting this.

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Comment from our Facebook Page:


Hannah Smeaton Hi Guys, it may be worth double checking with the curator at Bruce Castle that this is definitely their site, if you haven't already. They had a weird situation with a local person who started up a site on their behalf but wasn't connected or communicating with them.

Thanks for the tip, Hannah. I checked with Deborah Hedgecock, Curator of Bruce Castle Museum, who said this website is not connected with Bruce Castle or the Museum.

Contact details for the Museum are here on the Council's website.

Oh the power of being a councillor. I wrote to Deborah just after Hannah left her Facebook comment. No reply for me yet. Do you have a herd of flunkies following after you like a minister yet? ;o)

Thanks fro updating us anyway..

It's such a shame that the museum has chosen not to strut their stuff on t'interweb.  I feel I have a right to see digitised versions of our history electronically nowadays, when so many cultural artefacts are there already.


The shock of seeing the immense damage done to Haringey during the war, for example, deserves wider exhibition - a salutary lesson well illustrated by the many photos the museum guard carefully.


Rowland Hill was the amazing Victorian who tuned Bruce Castle into a pioneering school in 1827.

He was an effective campaigner! His practical work on education (first job was student teacher in his father's school) is evident today. You could say he created the idea of modern schooling at Bruce Castle, although students self-governance still hasn't matured into full reality, despite School Councils et al.  


His ideas on how a Postal Service could run everywhere at a fixed price per destination (the Penny Black) landed him the job of designing the modern post office - his statue is at London's only 24hour Post Office in King Edward Street.


Tories (Robert Peel) sacked him immediately they gained power.  He then did a 'fares fair' campaign a la Ken Livingstone on the London-Brighton run. How much more potent are our visionaries today? Is it still possible to be handed the job of realising the vision you campaign for?


This free-to-enter museum has lots of stuff (including the deeply buried treasure of microfiche records about our borough they can't easily exhibit) that merit free worldwide access.  Museums might worry that opening their collections will lessen visits but nothing beats the physicality of a well-curated space and never will. You can't get the full  pleasure of Bruce Castle Museum (were falcons housed in that tower there when Henry VIII was around?) without visiting Bruce Castle Museum, whatever's on the web, but you can be drawn to it through Google. 


Let's hope they can surmount whatever barriers exist, get digitising grants and make the jump.

" . . . a right to see digitised versions of our history electronically . . ."  And apparently that means "free worldwide access".  Chris, do you really think that's viable given the punitive Government cuts? Wouldn't it be more sensible to set up systems for micropayments to help defray the costs of running, maintaining, safeguarding and improving the building and its collection? And retaining the committed staff who run it.

Many Museums across the country are facing very serious problems. The Museums Association has even sunk The Fighting Temerarie.

P.S. I once sat in the Museum and read through some of their material on Rowland Hill's School. "Modern schooling"  it was not.


Information wants to be free, Alan.  We own it and the Museum looks after it. Everything that can be free, should be free.


You are proposing a money-making scheme and so am I. If the information is freely available on the web, then the Museum has an audience that can buy services from them (like printed maps) that can more than offset the digitisation costs in time if they simply copy what others do on the web.  It's the 'Freemium' model.


A lot of people won't visit museums that charge for stuff, but will pop in and have a look round the free ones. I think it's important they remain attractive to people with not much cash.

Interesting discussion. Simillar sentiments to those expressed by Chris was one of the things that drove me to assemble a collection of Harringay History stuff on HoL. The collections of Bruce Castle and Hornsey Historical Society are accessible to the public, but not easily. I feel that local people have a right to access 'their' history and that there's much to be gained from it in encouraging a sense of place and so on.

Ought there to be a price tag on that? I'm not sure. My sense is not. The argument you make for pricing access to the collections could be made for access to any public service. I don't have a ready answer to it as a more general issue, but I would say that I'm not convinced that pricing should apply to access to local history collections and not to, say borrowing books from a library.

Information doesn't "want" anything, Chris. And it doesn't exist without people collecting and doing work on data to turn it into information. And more work still is needed before it becomes knowledge.

Nor are we simply discussing digital data which can be duplicated for next to nothing. As Richard Stallman insisted, there is a distinction between "free" as in “free speech,” and “free beer.”  

Bruce Castle has rooms full of objects housed in a beautiful  Grade I listed 16th century manor house. Storing digital data may be cheap. But running and maintaining buildings - especially listed buildings - is not.  Staff need paying properly. ("The workman is worthy of his wages".)

Even as the cuts take their toll, I hope that nobody actually wishes to close or damage local museums. But then Julius Caesar never intended to burn down the Royal Library of Alexandria.

So I hope you and many other people with ideas for money-making schemes will find time to contribute to discussions - should there be any danger posed to the Museum's funding.

Hugh: let me be clear that I'd prefer no "price tags". But we know about the budget pressures. And how across the country, libraries and museums are seen as soft targets.

(Tottenham Hale ward councillor)

I'm guilty of obscure shorthand/anthropomorphic metaphor here Alan, sorry.

 'Information wants to be free'

is a slogan, almost a mantra to techies like me (of whom there are undoubtedly few, thank goodness) and I too often forget that most people don't have a clue what I'm talking about...

Arguably inspired by the 'truth shall make you free' biblical quote, it was one of the 60's ideas from a group of MiT techies said to have inspired the 'hacker culture'.

It's more provably attributed to Stewart Brand,


who I remember as a seminal figure in tech in the 80s.


Bruce Castle has a lot of great stuff, but many people will never see it, particularly if they were to do as you suggest and implement micropayments for it.  What if that stuff was widely and easily available? What could people do with it?  This is part of the obligation to digitise, I think.  


At a time when the public were not permitted to see pictures taken by the crew of Apollo 8 as they were considered too valuable and destined for a paywall, Brand lobbied NASA over a cultural artefact he thought everyone should be able to see for free:

For instance, this Government-owned “Earthrise” photo (Dec29, 1968):

was kept secret by NASA. He wanted it made free to as many people as possible. It became famous, helped turn him into an 'Ecopragmatist' and helped create the first 'Earth Day' in 1970 launching, according to him, the entire 'ecology' movement. During a sixties acid trip It came to him that he should call his wildly successful publication:

the Whole Earth Catalog ('access to tools')

All because of one photo that, in a micropayments-based Museum, probably wouldn't have been able to be widely circulated.

That whipper-snapper Stallman only latched on in the 90's, adding the useful refinement

'the freedom to copy the information and to adapt it to one's own uses'  

 which is another point about the use 'Internauts' can make of the Museum's resources. 


I want to live in a world where Museums are adequately funded and free to enter as Labour tried to do. The ConDems cynical wielding of the budget axe saddens me.  I think they're motivated by a purely ideological approach, causing some wounds that might never heal.  The truth is that we can find money for anything (including foreign wars) if we want to but they don't want to, and won't want to even when they tell us we're back on our feet financially, so Museums can go hang.


If the USA can be the richest country on the planet and have massive borrowings (and practically always has had in modern times), why can't we?  Well-managed borrowing is a springboard.  The fact that our property-owning democracy owes billions in mortgage repayments doesn't frighten me to death - I think almost all of us will manage to pay every month.  I don't think judicious debt is responsible for our current crisis, otherwise countries with more mortgage-paying home owners than us (e.g. Italy - the Italians also have larger homes on average too) would be worse off because of it.


However much I cavil, I accept that the Government won the election fair and square and I accept their right to impose their views on me to a certain extent.  It's the price I pay for living here, so it's hard to argue that such a non-life threatening organisation such as Bruce Castle Museum should get funding when children's centres need it more.


Micropayments for Museums, however, is a response that limits access to people who could benefit most - it's as simple as that.   The Freemium models are modern, granular approaches that give those same people access to stuff they wouldn't otherwise see and makes it easier for more of us to take a wider, more accurate interpretation of our own culture. It's a double-whammy!

Tories (Robert Peel) sacked him

That's taking anti-Tory paranoia a bit far :-)

>>That's taking anti-Tory paranoia a bit far :-)

Surely that's taking Tory paranoia a bit far

Just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean they're not out to get you :-)



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