Scope and Content

This is the diary of T.P Spedding from 1886 until his death in 1918. It ends with papers from 1920 memorialising his death. The diary takes the form of a scrapbook, kept in chronological order, containing many different types of document pertaining to the Van Mission, to Rochdale Unitarian Church and to Spedding himself and others who were involved in the Van Mission. The book is a diary from 1886, and begins with a general almanac. The scrapbook style starts with papers from the 1890s, such as flyers advertising events at the church and newspaper cuttings related to the church and its activities. There are also transcripts of sermons and lectures given by Spedding and others, along with minutes of debates, opinion pieces and journal articles. The papers reflect Spedding's interest in Unitarianism general as well as in his own church. From 1906 most of the book is concerned with the Van Mission, starting with a Missionary Conference letter about the decision to undertake the Mission, stating that the object is to 'spread knowledge of Unitarian principles'. There are annual reports on the Van Mission, giving an overview of the work conducted and the meetings given, including statistics on the crowds and meetings, for example the first tour in 1906 lasted for 163 days and gave 140 meetings. The reports also list plans for the future, such as gaining more vans. There is also a lot of correspondence included in the book, mostly to and from Spedding about his plans for the Mission and for recruiting people to it, as well as letters dealing with the maintenance of the Mission and the vans. Many of the letters are Spedding updating people on the progress and achievements of the Mission. There are also photos of the vans, the missioners and the crowds, as well as newspaper cuttings on the history and future of the Mission and pamphlets on the aims of the Mission and the faith of Unitarianism. There is a pamphlet report by the BFUA on the progress of the Mission in its first year, with a list of missioners and how long they spent with the Mission, what meetings they gave, as well as an account of the finances of the project. The scrapbook ends with two copies of theMonthly Messenger, a journal 'of the Unitarian church, Rochdale', one from 1918 and one from 1920, which have entries concerned with the death of Spedding and the end of the Van Mission.