Gathering, keeping and sharing Dowty’s heritage
Sitting in a strongroom at Gloucestershire Archives, preserved safely but otherwise inaccessible, is our single largest uncatalogued collection – the Dowty Group Archive. The Archive charts the story of an engineering firm from its origins in George Dowty’s 1930s Cheltenham workshop, through a worldwide expansion and up to the break-up of the Group in the 1990s. As such Dowty’s represents a big part of Gloucestershire’s industrial heritage. And as a major local employer it touched many lives.
The Dowty Group Archive was deposited at Gloucestershire Archives in the 1990s but so far we haven’t had the resources to catalogue it. However, we hope to make this happen as part of our ‘For the Record’ project. All being well we will secure a Round 2 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) that, amongst other things, will allow us to create more on-site space for cataloguing activities. It will also allow us to employ a project archivist to work in this space between 2017 and 2019, sorting and cataloguing the contents of the Dowty collection. We hope to recruit volunteers who will help add extra detail to the final online catalogue and improve the way the collection is packaged and labelled.
The formal business archive is just one aspect of Dowty’s heritage. The memories of former employees are just as important for understanding its impact. So as soon as we know if the project is going ahead (early in 2016) we will start to gather their individual stories and share them online. You can see the sorts of things we’d like to achieve at http://www.fieldingandplatthistory.org.uk.
In the meantime, we need to show HLF that former Dowty employees and other folk in Gloucestershire want to support this activity. So we have circulated our proposals to reach former staff, some of whom are now working at Messier-Bugatti-Dowty.
If you know anyone who might like to share their memories or you are interested in being part of the volunteer team working on the massive company archive, please get in touch. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a line at Gloucestershire Archives, Clarence Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester, GL1 3DW.
For details and project updates visit http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives/fortherecord. Most of the project costs are being covered by grants and contributions from project partners. But we are seeking donations too. You can do this online at http://www.foga.org.uk