River Severn Flying Boats and Rockets!

In May 1942, six months before Churchill made his famous “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” speech at the Lord Mayor’s luncheon at Mansion House, officials in Gloucestershire County Council’s planning department were already thinking about post-WW2 reconstruction. 

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15 months at Gloucestershire Archives: Bridging the Digital Gap

My name is Natasha Young and I have recently completed the National Archives digital skills training program: Bridging the Digital Gap. This program was a 15 month hands-on placement at the Gloucestershire Archives, where I have had access to amazing people, and learned not only the skills of traditional archiving, but the challenges and needs of digital archiving.

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The #ArchivePeople of Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

For day 26 of #Archive30 we are getting to know some of the amazing #ArchivePeople at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub. Learn more about some of our staff and volunteers below!

John Putley, Community Heritage Officer

Photograph of rolled parchment document
D4431/2/56/1 Castle accounts roll

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Work with the public and do outreach

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The collections: we have stuff on more or less everything & you learn something new every day!

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Item: the Gloucester Castle accounts roll from the second Barons War 1264-5 (D4431/2/56/1) Collection: Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Works (especially the photograph albums)

Favourite tearoom snack? Sainsbury’s jam doughnuts but homemade cakes & cookies come a close second!

Sue Webb, Gloucestershire Constabulary Archives

Photograph of a bundle of Birch Twigs
Birch rod

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Rummage around in police personnel files, documents and photographs

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The expertise of people around you

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? The birch in the Chester Master Room

Favourite tearoom snack? Chocolate hobnobs

Ally McConnell, Senior Archivist

drawing of a man looking through a telescope
Close up of Stephen Jefferys (PC/905)

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? I catalogue, accession and package records at the Heritage Hub

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The other lovely people! It’s a fun place to work

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? A map of Long Newnton (Wiltshire) drawn by Stephen Jefferys of Minchinhampton, aged 68, in 1748. He’s drawn himself surveying the area on the map and signed it, I see it as a very early selfie! (PC/905)

Favourite tearoom snack? Sue Webb’s ginger cakes

Laura, Graduate Trainee Archivist

Photograph of a deed with a large attached seal featuring portrait of Queen Elizabeth I
Deed with attached Queen Elizabeth I seal

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Looks at cool stuff to organise and write descriptions of

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? Sharing our stories and findings with people

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Elizabeth I seal – it’s so big and feels very important holding it!

Favourite tearoom snack? Homemade chocolate brownies that appear in a tin every so often…

Helen B, Senior Archivist and Customer Services Manager

Photograph of large map featuring a colourful crest and drawing of boats
D1655 Map of Thornbury

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Oversee Customer Services, answer queries, accept deposits, plan new ventures.

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The documents which are unique, interesting and normally quite well-behaved.

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Map of Thornbury with pen and ink drawings of ships sailing down the River Severn, 1716 (D1655)

Favourite tearoom snack? Banana

Kate O’Keefe, Archives Assistant

photograph of small bundle handwritten recipes with a open page next to it
D1245/F64 bundle of recipes

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Meeter and greeter, document orderer and search room guide

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? Without a doubt my wonderful colleagues

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? There are some tiny weeny little recipes in the Dodington Park collections which I absolutely love (D1245/F64)

Favourite tearoom snack? Tricky. We have a lot of talented bakers in the team and often have wonderful home-made cakes

Sal, Cheltenham Local History Society volunteer

Photograph of two bundle of letters
Two bundles from D2202

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? We [CLHS] catalogue deposits that have not yet been catalogued in detail.

What is the best thing about volunteering at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? Meeting a wider circle of friends, socially and engagement in a worthwhile activity.

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Mostly enjoy the deposit we are working on at the time.

Favourite breaktime snack? The cakes I make for the CLHS gang and the ‘extras’ from the GFHS!!

Brenda, Archives Team Administrator

Photograph of a seal featuring King Edward VI
Edward VI seal

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Finance, Customer Service, Room Bookings general all-rounder!

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The team of course!

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? The Seals – (who would have had the opportunity to see them when they were first made/used ?– only a privileged few and now I have looked upon something that a Royal would have seen)

Favourite tearoom snack? anything that appears!  It is great to celebrate the team’s birthdays and holidays

Kate Maisey, Archives Development Manager

Drawing of seven girls in school uniform singing, with a banner above with the words "Alleluia Alleluia"
Page from D9374/1

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? I look for ways to connect people with archives

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? My brilliant colleagues and the wider Heritage Hub community

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? A beautiful, manuscript history of Denmark Road girls school, Gloucester written and illustrated by teacher Miss Emily Middleton in 1958 (D9374/1)

Favourite tearoom snack? Fruit cake especially home made

Rhianna Watson, Community Cataloguing Archivist

open folder with three pages full of button samples in a wide range of colours
Buttons from D4251

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Support and work with volunteers and catalogue cool archival stuff!

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? As cheesy as it sounds, the amazing people I work with!

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? That’s a hard question! I do quite like the random assortments of buttons that can be found in the Erinoid Ltd (earlier Syrolit Ltd) of Rodborough collection (D4251). They are just so colourful and pretty!

Favourite tearoom snack? Brownies or any kind of cake someone is kind enough to bring in!

#Archive30: Travels throughout Gloucestershire by bus, train or walking boots!

This small notebook might not look like much on the outside, but it is perfect for #ArchiveDestination! This travel diary records the writers “impressions of events, mostly of places I have been to, & things that have happened there” as he travels via bus and train and enjoys walks around the area. Including a trip to Stroud Valley on 17 April 1954!

The entries about his different travels are really interesting to read and he touches on many places in the South West of England, including places such as Berkeley, Cirencester and Harefield in Gloucestershire, as well as many places in Somerset and Bristol.

The diary includes many personal snippets of the authors opinions on both where he is visiting and how he is getting there.

“We went on a Saturday at 1.50 on the 29 bus. It was, in a way a pity to go by bus, as it wasn’t half so pleasant (or so quick) as the train – but still, it was an experience.”

That being said one of my favourite parts is where you can see he has accidently skip two pages, so has crossed them out and annotated the page with “Damn!” I think this along with other comments throughout the dairy really showcase the man behind the travels and so his sense of humour!

two pages with the diary that have been crossed through and "damn!" written at the bottom of the right hand page
Unused pages in the travel diary

(Gloucestershire Archives Ref number: D15927/1)

Vicarious Trauma – What Is It?, by Sally Middleton

You may have come across this term (we certainly have), and it’s worth exploring what it’s all about. Vicarious trauma is defined as the “emotional residue” from exposure to extremely upsetting records. You may not have been witness to those highly distressing events, but in reading about them you have an acute emotional response. So it’s all about the impact those records may have.

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Gloucester’s Bishops Court records unlocked, Or All human life is there…, by Judy Kimber

On the 5th December 1628 George Beard made his way to Gloucester from his home in Whaddon. A dispute had arisen concerning the will of his friend John Copp and he was going to give his testimony at the Bishop’s Court. There he was asked how old he was and he told them that he was 90.  Yes, 90! Just think about that for a minute. He had lived through the reigns of six monarchs from Henry VIII to Charles 1. He was alive when the Spanish Armada threatened England. He was in his sixties when Guy Fawkes and his gang had tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. And now he was mentally and physically fit enough to give evidence in court. So much for the notion that no-one lived past sixty in “olden times”.

An example of a Bishop’s Court case book (GDR/168)
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What working for Gloucestershire Archives Has Taught Me, by Sally Middleton

On the eve of my retirement, it’s a chance to look back at the last (almost) 6 years, and see what I’ve learned.

I was new to heritage, when I arrived, and new to archives. I’d always worked with communities, or individuals, but around social justice or in a therapeutic context. I hadn’t seen, or understood, quite what an impact heritage can have on people and communities.

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Women’s History Month – Naomi Patterson

For our last post during women’s history month we’ve taken our information from the Barton and Tredworth community heritage site. This was set up during one of our community partnership projects, looking at the lives of local people. Read below for an insight into Naomi’s life and follow this link to listen to audio clips of her describing her experiences: https://www.bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/living-barton-tredworth/blackhistorymonth/naomi-patterson

Naomi Patterson came to Gloucester from Jamaica in the 1960s. She came to join her husband William who had travelled to the UK several years earlier to work at Gloucester Foundry. After her long trip, one of Naomi’s clearest memories upon arrival is remarking to her husband about how many factories there were in Gloucester, not realising that she was in fact looking at the terraced housing of Barton and Tredworth.

She also clearly recalls the first meal William made her when she arrived – freshly cooked mackerel and a glass of stout! Naomi and William lived with family in Barton and Tredworth before getting their own home, and in this collection of audio clips, Naomi recalls some of her experiences and her memories of the area from the time of her arrival. (Click on the link above to listen)

Since coming to Gloucester, Naomi has had several different jobs, raised three children and now volunteers at her church, the United Reform Church and also the Black Elders’ Luncheon Club. ‘Mrs P’ is still very much a part of her local community and a well known personality in Barton and Tredworth.

Naomi Patterson 1
Naomi Patterson

Women’s history month – Quarter sessions

The Quarter Sessions is a collection of accounts regarding mostly petty everyday crime. Last year we went through and picked out various cases that mentioned women, which you can read here: https://gloucestershirearchives.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/maligned-marginalised-and-misunderstood-blog-3/

There’s plenty more material to look through though, such as the case in 1741 concerning Mary Smith. It’s a settlement case, meaning they were trying to find out where she belonged and which parish was responsible for looking after her. According to her statement, she was

‘about 63 and was born in Shaftesbury in Dorset. She married Jeremiah Smith forty years ago and lived with him for twenty eight years. They travelled the country with earthenware as their living. She has gained no parish of settlement since her husband died.’

Such a short statement for such a long life lived. By the sounds of it, she travelled all over the country and would have met a much wider variety of people than most others did, especially women who would be expected to stay in or near their home most of the time.

White document with black inked handwriting
Q/SD/1/1741

Other records follow the same themes of settlement, theft, and assault against women. There are rarely happy stories in the petty sessions, this was after all where crimes were heard.

In 1738, Andrew Phipps of Berkeley accused Daniel Pick of assaulting his daughter Martha and tearing her apparel on Dursley Fair day. Q/SD/1/1738 A year later Mary Jagger stated she was

‘travelling from Minchinhampton to Cirencester on her husband’s business with Laurence Chidsley, a barber of Tetbury, as her guide. Chidsley pulled her off her horse, violently assaulted her and stole a silver pair of buckles which he still has’.

Neither case goes into much detail and it’s difficult to find further examinations that might tell us how the cases were closed.

White document with black inked handwriting
Q/SD/1/1738 
White document with black inked handwriting
Q/SD/1/1739 

Without a doubt the most common way a woman appeared in the quarter sessions was in cases of bastardy. Women would be hauled in front of the courts and told to name the father of her unborn (in some cases already born) child, so that he would be charged for their welfare instead of the parish. Such is the case in 1738 when Elizabeth Thorn appears. The case states that she is 28 and born in Cowley and has had no settlement since birth. It goes on to say

‘She is with child by Francis Tomlinson with whom she has cohabited for two years. She has sometimes begged but mostly got her livelihood from travelling about selling phisick.’

This one is interesting as it gives a bit more detail, and rarely are the women in these cases said to be living out of wedlock with the fathers for any length of time, which begs the question why weren’t they married? Where was her family? It also mentions she travelled around ‘selling phisick’ – so she did try to fend for herself in some way, and had enough knowledge of herbs and plants to make a living out of it. Who taught her this knowledge – was she particularly skilled? Of course, she isn’t asked any further questions than who the father of her child is, so we’ll never know.

Q/SD/1/1738

The marginalised voices of women in the justice system hint at so much history yet to uncover, waiting in the archives to be discovered.