Go to the Westminster Libraries & Archives home pageBorough of St. Marylebone: extracts from Council minutes relating to the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition 1951

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[3 October 1950: Report of the Public Libraries Committee]

2. FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN. 1951 - LOCAL PARTICIPATION

(a) We have given very careful consideration to the suggestion which was made a few months ago that an exhibition of archives and records dealing with local history and progress during the past 100 years should arranged in connection with next year's Festival of Britain. It is our view that a small exhibition, held for a short period in the Town Hall, the Library, or in the Lecture Hall at Seymour Place Baths, would not attract overseas visitors. If any such exhibition is to be held, we feel that it should be on a scale commensurate with the Borough's standing; should be open during the period of the Festival; and should include not only local archives and records but also exhibits illustrating the social, cultural and commercial development of the Borough over the past century. The co-operation of local institutions, professional and business interests would be needed and the exclusive use of a large hall would be essential. The expenditure involved would be considerable, quite apart from the very real difficulty of obtaining a suitable hall in the Borough. We are of opinion, therefore, that the Council should not embark on a project of this description.

(b) It is well-known that many overseas visitors ask to be shown "the house in Baker Street in which Sherlock Holmes lived". A suggestion has been made that considerable interest might be aroused by a "Sherlock Holmes" exhibition in the Library during the period of the Festival. The exhibition would include such things as copies of the original magazines in which this legendary figure appeared. This proposal commends itself to us, and such an exhibition could be staged without interfering with the normal use of the Library, we have given instructions for the requisite arrangements to be put in hand.


[26 October 1950]

(c) Festival of Britain, 1951 - Local Participation

It was moved by Councillor Vernon and seconded by Councillor Foley: "That the council do disagree with paragraph No.2(a) of the Report of the Public Libraries Committee, dated the 3rd October, 1950 (Printed Reports, p.221)"
After discussion, the Motion, was, by leave of the Council, withdrawn and the paragraph was adopted.
The remainder of the Report of the Public Libraries Committee, dated the 3rd October, 1950 was approved and adopted


[31 October 1950]

REPORT OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES COMMITTEE.

31st October, 1950.

Present: COUNCILLOR Miss L. F. NETTLEFOLD, LL.B., L.C.C., Chairman, in the Chair.
Alderman DOUGLAS TIMIN5, O.B.E., M.A.; Councillors: ARTHUR V. Davis, J. P. HONOUR, ELLIOTT LEVY, The Rev WALTER MILLIN LONG, STAFFORD L0RIE, The~ Hon. MILDRED LOWTHER, O.B.E., Major R. C.ORPEN (Vice-Chairman), ROBERT H. SHARP, F.I.P.A., and N. WHINE, B.Sc.(Econ.).
Also Present: Councillors FREDERICK FRAME and L. STEPHANY.

1. Festival of Britain, 1951-Local Participation

(a) As a result of the debate at the last Council Meeting, considerable public interest has been aroused in our proposal to arrange a Sherlock Holmes exhibition during the Festival of Britain, and we anticipate that it will be of considerable attraction, particularly to overseas visitors. It is not generally realised that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived in the Borough at No. 2, Devonshire Place [please see footnote below], which fact probably gave rise to his choosing a well-known local street for the home of his famous character; and that he was also a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club and continued to play for one of the Club's touring sides as late as 1911. The author's association with St. Marylebone will therefore be one of the angles from which the arrangement of the exhibition will be approached


[21 December 1950]

*2. Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

The public interest which has been aroused in our proposal to arrange a Sherlock Holmes exhibition during the period of the Festival of Britain, to which we referred in our last Report, is continuing. We are satisfied that the proposed exhibition will be a considerable attraction, particularly to overseas visitors. We have already submitted two Reports on this matter, which the Council have adopted; but in order that there may be no misunderstanding as to the Council's intention and to make the position clear, we now submit a recommendation.

In the meantime, we would mention that many offers of co-operation and assistance have been and are being received. The plan is beginning to take shape, and at our next Meeting we shall have before us full information upon which will be formulated the figure which we shall ask the Council to include in their Estimates of Special Expenditure for next year in this connection. We shall then also report in some detail upon the scheme.

We recommend -

2. That the Council do agree with the proposal of the Public Libraries Committee that they shall arrange a Sherlock Holmes Exhibition during the period of the Festival of Britain 1951.

[25 January 1951]

*2. Sherlock Holmes Exhibition.-

We have approved the general plan of arrangements for the holding of the proposed Sherlock Holmes Exhibition during of the Festival of Britain, and report as follows

(a) Accommodation -
The Abbey National Building Society have kindly offered accommodation on the first floor of Abbey House without charge. This accommodation is in our view very suitable, and the offer has accordingly been most gratefully accepted
(b) Offers of Assistance -
Mr. Adrian Conan Doyle and other members of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's family have very kindly offered to render every assistance, including the loan of many articles, manuscripts, photographs, etc.
(c) Opening and Duration of Exhibition -
We propose that the Exhibition be opened on Tuesday, the 22nd May, 1951, with a Press preview on the previous and should remain open until Saturday, the 22nd September.
(d) Admission Charge -
We suggest an admission charge of 1s. 0d. for adults, 6d. for children, with a special charge, the amount of which is to be determined, for parties from schools, etc.
(e) Publicity -
We think that a fairly substantial sum should be allotted to publicity. At the time of opening there will undoubtedly be considerable publicity; but we feel that this should be supplemented during the greater part of period during which the exhibition is open.
(f) Financial -
Having carefully considered the whole scheme of the Exhibition we feel that the sum to be provided as expenditure on the Exhibition should be made up as follows:

Advertising 1,500
Insurance 100
Printing and signwriting (including catalogues)400
Staff (including night-watchman and overtime)500
Lighting 150
Tableau of portion of sitting room, 221B, Baker Street 500
Contingencies 350
3,500

The above figure takes no account of income, as this is almost impossible to forecast. We have had details of the average attendances at other exhibitions in London, and assuming that an average of 400 per day visit the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition throughout the period, the income would be in the region of 2,000. At the same time, it should be mentioned that no special provision has been made for the cost of equipment, as it is hoped that it may be possible to borrow what is required. The question of entertainment tax has also to be taken into consideration, but we understand that there is the probability that a claim for exemption from Entertainments Duty would be favourably considered.

We think it desirable that the sum of 500 should be provided for preliminary expenses which may be incurred before the end of the current financial year; and have accordingly asked the Finance Committee to submit a Supplemental Estimate for this sum, the amount to be included in our Estimates of Capital and Special Expenditure for 1951/2 being consequentially reduced to 3,000.

We recommend -

2 (a) That the arrangements in connection with the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition as indicated in paragraph No. 2 of the Report of the Public Libraries Committee, dated the 2nd January, 1951, be generally approved.
2 (b) That, subject to the submission of the appropriate Estimate by the Finance Committee, the Council do approve of the inclusion of the sum of 3,000 in the Annual Estimates of Expenditure for the ensuing financial year 1951/2 in respect of the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition.

[25 January 1951]

(c) Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

(i) That the arrangements in connection with the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition as indicated in paragraph No. 2 of the Report of the Public Libraries Committee, dated the 2nd January, 1951, be generally approved.

(ii) That, subject to the submission of the appropriate Estimate by the Finance Committee, the Council do approve of the inclusion of the sum of 3,000 in the Annual Estimates of Expenditure for the ensuing financial year 1951/2 in respect of the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition.


[26 April 1951]

11. Sherlock Holmes Exhibition - Street Banner

We have not raised any objection to a proposal of the Public Libraries Committee to display a street banner in Baker Street from York Place Mansions to the Housing Department Offices, to publicise the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition to be held at Abbey House from 22nd May to 22nd September, 1951, subject to that Committee making satisfactory arrangements for the fixing and maintenance of the banner and for the Council to be covered against any accident which might arise as a result of such display.


[26 April 1951]

REPORT OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES COMMITTEE.

3rd April, 1951.

Present: COUNCILLOR Miss L. F. NETTLEFOLD, LL.B., L.C.C., Chairman, in the Chair.
Councillors: JOHN R. BRACEWELL, ARTHUR V. DAVIS, J. P. HONOUR, ELLIOT Levy, The Rev. WALTER MILLIN LONG, STAFFORD LORIE, The Hon. MILDRED LOWTHER, O.B.E., ROBERT H. SHARP, F.I.P.A. and N. WHINE, B.Sc.(Econ.).

1. Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

We have approved a report of the Special SubCommittee upon the progress made in the arrangements for this Exhibition, and report as follows:-

  1. Exhibition Room
    One third of the space available will be devoted to a reproduction of the living room at 221B, Baker Street, and Mr. Michael Weight has been commissioned to undertake the necessary work. The layout of the rest of the Exhibition Room has been discussed with the Exhibition Contractors, whose detailed plans will be available in the near future. The Abbey National Building Society are redecorating the Exhibition Room as part of their normal redecoration programme, and they have agreed that the closing hour of the Exhibition shall be 7.30 p.m.
  2. Publicity
    (a) Design of Poster - We have accepted a design by Mr. Bruce Angrave for the exhibition poster, subject to minor amendments.
    (b) Display of Posters - 300 sites on London Transport Executive railway stations have been booked for a period of sixteen weeks from 17th May, and posters will also be displayed on the Council's boards and vehicles. In addition, the possibility of displaying posters in the vicinity of the Festival sites at South Bank and Battersea Park, and at the approaches to Abbey House, is being investigated.
    (c) Official Brochure - A brochure will be produced for issue from Festival Bureaux and Travel Agencies, etc.
  3. Entertainments Duty
    H.M. Customs and Excise have now granted a certificate of exemption from Entertainments Duty in respect of the Exhibition.
  4. Official Opening of the Exhibition
    Miss Jean and Mr. Dennis Conan Doyle are being invited to perform the Opening ceremony on Tuesday, 22nd May, 1951.
  5. Catalogue
    An official catalogue is in course of preparation, the foreword to be written by Mr. Bernard Darwin.
  6. Lectures.-
    As an ancillary to the Exhibition we have decided to arrange three or four lectures of particular interest to Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, to be given in the Children's Library.


Footnote to St. Marylebone Council Minutes 31st October 1951:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not live in the Borough of St. Marylebone. He briefly had an eye practice there, the address of which he gave in his autobiography as 2, Devonshire Place. More recent research had shown that it was in fact one block further south, at 2, Upper Wimpole Street.

He rented rooms during this period in Montague Place, along the north side of The British Museum. The buildings were demolished earlier this century to make way for the University of London. Sherlock Holmes, it will be remembered, lived just round the corner, as he explains in "The Musgrave Ritual",

"When I first came up to London I had rooms in Montague Street, just round the corner from the British Museum, and there I waited, filling in my too abundant leisure time by studying all those branches of science which might make me more efficient."

Violet Hunter in "The Copper Beeches" wrote to Holmes from an address in Montague Place,

"Pshaw, my dear fellow, what do the public, the great unobservant public, who could hardly tell a weaver by his tooth or a compositor by his left thumb, care about the finer shades of analysis and deduction! But, indeed, if you are trivial. I cannot blame you, for the days of the great cases are past. Man, or at least criminal man, has lost all enterprise and originality. As to my own little practice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to young ladies from boarding-schools. I think that I have touched bottom at last, however. This note I had this morning marks my zero-point, I fancy. Read it!" He tossed a crumpled letter across to me.

It was dated from Montague Place upon the preceding evening, and ran thus:

DEAR MR. HOLMES: I am very anxious to consult you as to whether I should or should not accept a situation which has been offered to me as governess. I shall call at half-past ten to-morrow if I do not inconvenience you.

Yours faithfully, VIOLET HUNTER."


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