Papers of Robin Tanner (1904-1988)

Scope and Content

These papers relate primarily to Tanner's work in education and not to his activities as an artist and etcher. They include lectures, addresses and conference papers together with photographs of accompanying displays, 1950s-1980s; a small group of papers relating to individual schools, 1930s-1980s; some publications; a little correspondence, mainly from the 1960s-1980s; slides of works by young people taught by Tanner in the 1930s; and personalia, including poetry and prose anthologies, and a cassette recording of a talk by Heather Tanner and Dietrich Hanff on ‘Life in the Tanner Household'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robin Tanner (1904-1988) became a teacher in 1924, having trainined as a teacher at Goldsmith's College, London (1922-1924) and taught in schools in Greenwich, and then in Corsham and Chippenham, Wiltshire. In 1935 he became one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Schools in primary education and subsequently worked in Leeds, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. In Oxfordshire he worked with Edith Moorhouse, the County's Primary Adviser and his views on primary education were also influenced by the work of Christian Schiller. He retired in 1964 but continued to participate in numerous short courses and conferences, giving lectures and arranging displays to illustrate his themes, including at Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon, Cowley Manor, Gloucestershire and Woolley Hall, Wakefield, Yorkshire. Tanner believed that the study of natural things and the exploration of arts and crafts, music and poetry were essential for the development of teachers and children. He was himself a distinguished artist and etcher and helped to found and support the Crafts Study Centre at the Holborne Menstrie Museum in Bath. He married Heather Spackman in 1931.


Every effort has been made to retain the structure of the paper catalogue. However in some cases, in order to maintain the correct heirarchical order, reference codes have been slightly altered and extra levels of description created. Hence BTA/SC1 becomes BTA/SC/1; BTA/CO1 becomes BTA/CO/1 etc. BTA/CO3/1,1 has become BTA/CO/3/1/1,1 etc. In all cases, the original reference, as used in the paper catalogue, is recorded in the AltRefNo field. Where an extra level of description has been added this is noted at series level.

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Other Finding Aids

Electronic and paper catalogues.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist

Custodial History

This collection was originally part of the National Primary Education Archive at Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln, and was transferred from there in 1998.

Related Material

There is a large amount of material relating to Robin Tanner in the papers of George and Judith Baines (DC/BA).


'Double Harness' (autobiography) Impact Books, 1987; 'From Old Chapel Farm (selected letters)' ed., Tim Fenn, Impact Books, 1991.

Geographical Names