Toward the end of last year we received an email from a Mr Peter Sleigh enquiring whether we would accept, as a donation, his Uncle’s archive. Peter’s Uncle, William Ward Sleigh (1894 – 1917) was born and raised in Bury until the age of 12 where he was then sent to board at King William’s College on the Isle of Man. After leaving college, William (Billy) worked for The Royal Insurance Company in Manchester and a few years later, in 1914, joined the Royal Fusiliers. After transferral to The West Yorkshire Regiment he was given a commission but was killed in action on the 25th February 1917. Lieutenant William Ward Sleigh’s story is brought to life through this amazing collection of correspondence, photographs and documents which we were delighted to accept into our archives earlier this month.
Although Peter wasn’t able to bring the collection in person (he lives in France) his son, Tom – who was visiting relatives in Bury, brought the archive to our search room. It was a pleasure to meet him and share with him our enthusiasm for what will soon become a fascinating World War One resource to complement our existing collections. These, alongside our local newspaper archive, provide unique access to a wealth of local history relating to The Great War.
Both Peter and his son, Tom, were assured that William’s archive will be preserved to the standards set by The National Archives. Consequently, as with all our deposits and donations, the collection will be stored in an acid-free archival box and placed in our temperature- and humidity-controlled store room. In addition, any conservation issues will be dealt with professionally to ensure the longevity of the records.
Our purpose, here at the Centre, is to help the people of Bury, and indeed anywhere, to discover the history and heritage of The Borough and its people. Donations like this one are important in offering remarkable insight into what life was like for ordinary Bury citizens in those years of war. If you or anyone you know would be interested in donating or depositing any documents, photographs or memories relating to The First World War please get in touch or, for more information, check out our deposit and donations policy.