Since 2011 the Pilgrim Trust has supported manuscript conservation only through the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. In that time the Pilgrim Trust’s investment of £340,000 has helped NMCT leverage over £500,000 of additional support, enormously increasing the number of conservation grants it can give.
With the Pilgrim Trust’s help the NMCT has supported 33 conservation projects at 20 archive services or museums, 5 specialist libraries and 4 universities across the UK. The range of collections conserved and made accessible is huge and it includes the 13th century Winchester Bible, papers of the 1st Duke of Wellington, manuscripts written by Emily Brontë, a collection recording the events surrounding the Peterloo massacre, the archive of the UK’s first organic farm and the archive of the first British expedition to North Greenland.
Not only are the conserved manuscripts and collections now stable and accessible, in many cases the projects have provided a significant training benefit as well. Projects have given a number of early-career conservators their first job opportunity and all have gone onto permanent employment in the sector. Many volunteers have received training in preventive conservation enabling them to continue to help care for the collections of archives and record offices after the NMCT funded project has been completed.
Images with kind permission of The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust