Curious discovery from the time of Jane Austen

Sometimes it’s an unexpected glimpse of times past that I really enjoy about my job here at Gloucestershire Archives.  I had such a moment recently, with a discovery that came my way.

Part of my role as Collections Care Conservator is to protect the collection against damage from insect pests.  Our eagle-eyed staff and volunteers are super-vigilant about spotting any possible signs of infestation.  One of our volunteers was emptying out an old box when she spotted what she thought was frass (i.e. insect poop) and so brought the box to my attention.

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New arrivals in our strongrooms (4)

Autumn has seen a flurry of new collections arriving at Gloucestershire Archives – and all are now recorded, labelled, boxed and tucked away safely in our care.

We were delighted to receive an archive bequeathed to us by the late June Lewis, a well-known local author and historian of Fairford. Alison Hobson of Fairford Local History Society has spent over 12 months listing the contents of the collection ready for its transfer to the Archives. This help is much appreciated by our busy team! Mrs Lewis collected, researched and wrote extensively so it will take a little longer before the 20 or so transfer boxes have been processed ready for research.

Some of the highlights for September and October are listed below. As ever, please search our online catalogue using the reference numbers given in the list to find further details. Most items are now ready to be used by visiting our research room.

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Blogging a building (15)

Artists for Gloucestershire Archives

This week we’ve been celebrating the national #ExploreArchives campaign, so it seemed appropriate to demonstrate just how many ways there are of exploring the collections.

If you have visited the Archives’ garden lately you will have noticed that there is a very large oak tree trunk lying on the ground. This is the raw material for our new vertical sculpture to be carved by Cheltenham based sculptor Natasha Houseago. The tree trunk is two and a half metres long and has a diameter of about half a metre. Or if you still hanker for the olden days, 15 feet long and about 20 inches across.

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Gloucestershire’s archives revealed

Flash bang wallop – I’ve just broken my back.

Photography these days has become easy. With the advanced technology available to anyone who can afford it, pointing and pressing a shutter normally results in a perfect picture. Thanks to many intelligent auto settings on the camera doing all the work, even I can get a semi-decent shot of my chosen subject.

And when one of my pictures does accidentally come out frustratingly blurred, I’ll pretend that I meant it and enter it into the Turner Prize. So far, I’ve been beaten to the award by a dead cow, a used bed and an empty room, so I need to concentrate on worsening my work considerably before I’m successful.

But back in the Victorian era, photographers couldn’t just go around taking happy snaps wherever and whenever they liked. The time it took to expose the photographic plate and then develop it certainly wasn’t instant, as it is today. Photographers were skilled technicians and chemists who didn’t waste their precious negatives on images of twerking chimney sweeps or the workhouse Master’s avocado lunch. Continue reading

Blogging a Building (14)

by Heather Forbes, County Archivist.

Why did Genie visit the Archives?   Read on and find out more.

CF01

“It’s like watching concrete dry…” is a phrase normally associated with something exceptionally boring. But we all found the concrete pouring and polishing exercise particularly interesting.

CF02

We knew that the concrete pouring was going to be a long job – the contractors notified us and the neighbours that work would start at 7.30am on Friday morning and continue into the small hours of Saturday..  This was because the foundations of the three new strong rooms needed to be poured as a single job.   Initially a large concrete pump with a contraption like an elephant’s trunk pumped concrete into the metal mesh.

CF03

We were then surprised to see several workmen in wellies walking in it with rakes to level it off.   Later on they used hand-held hovercraft-like contraptions (parafloats) to smooth the surface.  Finally sit-on parafloats were used to polish and seal the surface.  I think several of us secretly wanted to have a go on these but we refrained – this was a job best left to experts!

CF04

35 trucks, 500 tonnes of concrete, and 19 hours later the strong room foundations were completed.   Next step – the walls and roof.

So why did Genie visit the Archives?   Because it’s a telescopic  forklift truck for loading the ¾ tonne parafloat onto the concrete slab.   We were particularly taken with this truck as it shares its name with our genealogical database (Genie), now accessible via Ancestry.  And we always welcome genealogists on site, whatever form they take!

 

Munching on archival cakes for The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning! By Rachel Wales

The staff and volunteers at Gloucestershire Archives have always been keen to support the Macmillan Coffee morning, and this year saw our Tea Room table groaning under the weight of brownies, blondies, biscuits, cakes and other yummies.  When trying to decide what I’d bring in, I remembered a recipe I have made before – one that had come to light in one of our collections (GA reference D2455/F3/10/9/3).  This is a small handwritten volume of recipes, compiled by Michael Hugh Hicks Beach (a gentleman, politician and officer who led a very interesting life but who sadly was killed on the 23 April 1916, in the Battle of Katia, thirty miles from the Suez Canal.)  Most of the recipes were for soups or beef dishes, but there were some baking recipes included too, such as one for Oatmeal Scones, and this one, for “Guard’s Cake”.  Continue reading

New arrivals in our strongrooms (3)

stone laying

Shades from the past: a rather ghostly image of the laying of the foundation stone at Whitfield Memorial Presbyterian Church in Gloucester, 1872 (new accession D14436)

A bumper summer crop of new archives!

We’ve been kept busy over the summer processing new additions of archives – in all that’s meant working on 90 separate batches or ‘accessions’ for June, July and August. We aim to add at least brief details to our online catalogue of all new material within four weeks of its arrival.

Some of the highlights are listed here. If you’d like to see more details, please go to our online catalogue and then search on the catalogue reference given below.

The online catalogue will tell you whether you can access the records now or whether they are closed for any reason. If this is the case you may be able to arrange to see them by appointment.

Highlights

Aerial photographs (catalogue reference D14493): aerial photographs of Gloucester and district taken by the RAF, 1946

Coal Research Establishment, Stoke Orchard (catalogue ref D14505): drawings, photographs and publications relating to history of the site, 1946-1994

Corse C of E School (catalogue ref S309): admission register, 1946-2001; school photographs and press cuttings, 1914-1972; material concerning the opening of the new School, 1994

Crickley Hill Archaeological Trust (catalogue ref D14279): Trust correspondence, annual reports and financial statements, 1986-2010

Doris Court of Weston-sub-Edge, local historian (catalogue ref D14447): records collected and compiled by Doris Court relating to the history of Weston-sub-Edge since the 13th century

Filton Community History Group (catalogue ref D13476): additional material from the Group including administration files, minutes of meetings, and results of research, including projects undertaken by pupils at Shield Road and Charborough Road Schools, 1999-2001

Gamage Court, Westbury on Severn (catalogue ref D14475): farm account books kept by Harry Baker of Gainsfield Farm, part of Gamage Court, 1949-1967

Gloucestershire Federation of Women’s Institutes (catalogue ref D2933): minutes and other records of various WI branches, 20th cent, including Aylburton [opened 1919]; Brimscombe and Thrupp; Chipping Campden; Churcham; Coopers Hill and Brockworth; Greet; Hardwick; Hempsted; May Hill, Longhope; and also of the Campden Group

Labour and Trades Union movements in the Stroud area (catalogue ref D14481): Stroud Divisional Labour Party minutes, 1940-1959; Stroud Trades Council, from 1989 known as Stroud and District Trades Union Council, minutes, 1969-c.1997; Stroud and Thrupp branch (later Stroud branch) of the  Amalagmated Union of Engineering Workers, minutes, 1924-1980; accounts, 1853-1925, 1963-1980; proposition and entrance books, 1853-1943, 1969-1981; contribution books, 1859-1892, 1915-1920

D G Martin slide collection (catalogue ref D12083): 153 slides and script for talk “Cheltenham Past and Present” comprising views of buildings and street scenes, and giving information about each one, 1960s-1989

Milestones School, Longford and predecessor schools (catalogue ref S154/32): Tuffley Open Air School pamphlet, [1960]; Chamwell School staff and pupil photos , 1976-1979; newscuttings relating to school events, 1983-1984; records relating to the 50th anniversary of Oak Bank and Chamwell School (a merged service caring for children since 1936) 1986; school prospectus, 1986; photographs of pupils and school events at Oak Bank and Chamwell Schools, 1970-1990; video copy TV news piece on a Royal visit to Milestone School, 2001

Oral history recording (catalogue ref D14452): interview with Robbie Green, evacuee in Gloucestershire during World War 2, recorded 6 November 2014

Painswick parish (catalogue ref P244): records include service registers, 1950-2001; church log books and fabric papers, 20th cent; survey of memorials in churchyard, mid-20th cent; deeds concerning land between the lychgate and the bus stop, 20th cent; codicil to will of Thomas Phillips, 1824; sale of advowson of Painswick Vicarage, 1838; church photographs and plans, including ground plan of organ, 1892-20th cent; parish magazines, 2005-2006, 2011-2012

Ruardean Woodside School (catalogue ref S109/2): admission register, 1978-2007; attendance list for Old Scholars’ reunion, 1992; constitution for Woodside Primary Old Scholars and Friends Association, 2012; journal to commemorate the centenary of Ruardean Woodside School (1878)-1978; memories of Slad School, 2012; Forest of Dean U.D. School Board summary and tables of results of examination, 1891-1892

Sandoe Luce Panes of Thornbury, estate agents and auctioneers (catalogue ref D4855): sales particulars and other records of predecessor firms including Luce, Young and Alway, Moses Smith and Luce, Luce, Howes and Williams, and associated firms, relating to properties in South Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire and Somerset, 1873-1961

Stroud Choral Society (catalogue ref D9329): programmes and posters, 1828-1976; press cuttings and other publicity material, 1828-c.2000