THEY’VE spent hundreds of hours sorting through huge piles of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia in the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.
Now cultural leaders have paid tribute to the volunteers who have helped Portsmouth better understand the world of the fictional detective.
And their work has paved the way for plans to be brought forward to create a world-class visitor attraction celebrating Sherlock, which are to be discussed in more detail at a meeting tomorrow.
Portsmouth City Council’s partnership and commissioning manager, Claire Looney, one of the senior officers involved in the Sherlock project, said: ‘We are at the point where we have a far better understanding and clarity over what the collection shows.
‘When we received it, there was no supporting information, nothing.
‘So we had to do all of that process to better understand what we had.
We are at the point where we have a far better understanding and clarity over what the collection shows.Claire Looney
‘Through that process, we have realised we have such a fantastic gem.
‘There are approximately 16,000 books, 3,000 objects, and we have an excess of more than 40,000 items; which could be something as small as an individual photo or letter.
‘So we have had to understand in essence what all these items are.
‘The team could pick up a photo and they would then have to work out if it has any relevance to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes.’
Ms Looney said Sir Arthur was ‘immersed in all aspects of Victorian life’, so it’s proved to be a challenge sorting through what is and isn’t Sherlock-related.
She said: ‘He was involved in a huge range of things; he was involved in the fundraising community to raise money for families who lost people on the Titanic.
‘He stood as a Member of Parliament, and wasn’t successful.
‘He developed Sherlock Holmes as an entity, killed him off, but through public demand brought him back to life through his stories.’
Ms Looney confirmed volunteers had racked up 969 hours in the last year working on the collection.
She said: ‘The volunteers have developed such an in-depth knowledge of the archive.’