Lancaster University legacies bring history to life

Margaret Bainbridge.
Margaret Bainbridge.

A passion for local and family history led to legacies of more than £140,000 to Lancaster University, which will be used to safeguard and promote the region’s heritage.

Benefactor Dr Margaret Bainbridge, of Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster, died in May 2016 aged 91.

She left legacies to a range of regional heritage organisations in the north west including two legacies to Lancaster University’s Regional Heritage Centre (RHC).

These included a gift of more than £136,000 which will become the Bainbridge North West Regional Heritage Fund and another of £5,000 which will be used to archive some of her research and stage a touring exhibition.

The legacies were borne out of Dr Bainbridge’s passion for local and family history and her commitment to Lancaster University’s RHC which inspired much of her more recent research.

“Legacies, such as these, can make an enduring and extremely valuable contribution to fostering the region’s heritage,” said RHC director Dr Fiona Edmonds.

“They may help us to keep study days accessible and affordable, develop an exciting research project and spread knowledge of our region around the world.”

Barrow-born Dr Bainbridge gained a degree in geography from Edinburgh University and a post-graduate teaching qualification from Cambridge.

While teaching at a school in London, she gained her doctorate before moving to Turkey where she worked in banks and as an English tutor for several years.

Returning to England, she worked at London University and later became the Turkish expert at the London School of Oriental and African Studies until her retirement in the 1990s.

She then moved to Lancaster and gained a diploma in local history from Lancaster University in 1993.

This was the catalyst for her long association with the university.

A subsequent research project focused on the Lancaster whaler, Abram. She had discovered that a family member had served and died on the ship which saw service in the British Virgin Islands and the Arctic.

This led, ultimately, to the publication, by the then Centre for North West Regional Studies, of ‘The West Indies and the Arctic in the age of sail: the voyages of Abram (1806-62)’ written at Dr Bainbridge’s request by Dr Rob David and Dr Mike Winstanley.

Dr Bainbridge also explored local history in Lancaster and played a key role in local heritage events at the Judges’ Lodgings and other historic sites of importance, as well as at the Maritime Museum.

She gave her vast archival collection of more than 1,200 items of Turkish literature and language material to the Skilliter Centre for Ottoman Studies, Newnham College, Cambridge.

Director of development & alumni relations at Lancaster University, Nick Fragel, said: “Dr Bainbridge’s remarkable passion for local history will live on as a result of her wonderful generosity. Her legacies will support projects dear to her heart and important to the heritage of our region.”