Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 16:59 UK
Robert Pool's collection helps tell Glasgow's history
Glasgow shipping memorabilia
Robert's collection includes items from shipyards along the Clyde

Robert Pool has built a collection of memorabilia related to Glasgow over the years.

Part of it has been added to the digital collection of A History of the World, the partnership between the BBC, British Museum and museums around the country.

The website hosts objects from museums and the public which help tell the story of the history of mankind.

Robert's items give a glimpse into the history of the city of Glasgow.

Stories to tell

Robert Pool said: "I started collecting years ago, odd bits and pieces of Glasgow starting with old letterheads. What I liked about them was the way they were designed, a lot of them were created by engravers. They were really works of art which you don't get these days."

Robert was driving home when he first heard of A History of the World on BBC Radio Four. After listening to the programme, Robert went on to the website and decided to upload one item.

More than 120 items later, Robert has uploaded more to the digital collection of A History of the World than any other person in the UK.

Choosing what to include from the 10,000 plus items in his collection, which totals more than 20,000 pieces if you include photographs, was difficult. Robert said: "Every item has a story to tell."

Not all objects tell a happy story, he cites the bar of soap from the Twin Towers uploaded by Simon Mayo as an example.

Personal favourites

Robert Pool
Robert estimates that he has collected more than 2,000 items over the years

Robert said: "That's the thing about the history of the world, not everything is good. There are a lot of happy mediums in there. Many items have quite poignant stories behind them. Neil Oliver's grand-father's watch was personal to him and means a lot to him."

The Queen Victoria jubilee medal awarded to Robert's great-great uncle, David Pool, who served with the Metropolitan police is of special significance to him: "The family story goes that he knew the true identity of Jack the Ripper because his beat in 1888 was Whitechapel.

"His father, also David Pool, was deputy chief constable of Dumfries at the time. It is said that he told his father who it was and they decided to keep it quiet precisely because of who it was."

David Pool was murdered in France in 1901 about a month after his father died. The exact circumstances of his death are unknown.

Growing collection

Everybody would be interested in this collection as it covers every part of Glasgow whether it's shipping, transport, football, entertainment - every walk of life.
Robert Pool

A collection of Co-op labels were the first objects in Robert's collection which were given to him by Harry and Helen Neil who live in Australia.

More recent additions to the collection include a bottle of whisky from a ship which sank around 1890 off Tower Point in the Clyde.

Two kelpie heads from sculptor Andy Scott are Robert's favourite items. They were used for the wind-tunnel testing for the heads which will be used in the Helix Project in Falkirk.

On display

Tram conductor's ticket machine
Items from trams, shipping and entertainment in Glasgow can be viewed online

You can see part of Robert's collection in BBC Scotland's headquarters at Pacific Quay in Glasgow until the end of November.

There are items which represent key parts of the history of the city and the River Clyde including tickets from the last trams in Glasgow.

There are playing cards made by A and J Dick, the brothers who invented rubber-soled shoes. The shoes changed the way people dress, especially the poor who couldn't afford leather-soled shoes.

The gavel that launched the ship at Yarrow's shipbuilders in 1966 is included. Robert said: "We've now seen a decline in shipping. I was at the launch of the HMS Duncan recently and that could be the last ship we'll ever see being launched in the Clyde, it means something special to me."

There are other items which have resonance with what's happening today such as the blank cheque issued by the City of Glasgow Bank. Seven bank directors were jailed when the bank went bust in 1878.

Getting online

Robert has been collecting for years and has probably spent more money on it than he'd care to admit. The first items were bought from antique dealers. Later, the internet changed how the collection grew. Robert estimates that 90 percent of his collection was bought in online auctions.

Robert also uses the internet to research items which he is interested in. Robert said: "The internet by far is the best source of information."

Robert has this advice for anyone wanting to get online: "Go to your local library to find ways that they can help you. There's a large number of places that you can go to these days to get access to computers. I would recommend that everybody do it, no matter what age you are."

Preserve the past

Glasgow trams memorabilia
There are items unique to Glasgow and Robert's family in the collection

Robert would like the collection to be kept for the people of Glasgow: "To give the collection to the Mitchell Library has always been the idea. When I started researching my family tree, I found it to be the most accessible building.

"The whole idea is for to allow people to go and see them. Everything has been digitally photographed and I'm hoping to send them to the Mitchell and other libraries."

Find out more about Robert's collection by visiting the A History of the World website. If you have an object which is important to you or your local area, why not add it to the digital collection too. More details are on the website.



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