Blogging a Building (13)



It’s September and time for a new entry in our Blogging a Building log, charting the journey to create onsite facilities for Gloucestershire Heritage Hub.

The crew of Starship ‘For the Record’ (aka the project team developing the Heritage Hub) spent the latter half of the summer in space dock, busily making key interior design decisions, kick starting activities to make art installations and liaising with builders to clear the critical path for our onward travel.  And I’m pleased to report we’re flying again, having left our mooring and increased our engine speed from low-level thrust to warp.

Making the right interior design choices for a public building takes time. We need to create an environment that works for everyone and are grateful to have expert volunteer, Cherry Knott advising us.  After much deliberation we settled on a colour palette that reflects the Gloucestershire flag: shades of blues and greens for walls and floors, and a contrasting light taupe for door surrounds.  We want to introduce a bit of fun too so are thinking of using the colours in the Heritage Hub logo (featured at the top of this post) to jazz up the building’s industrial-looking pillars.  We’d also like to mount some giant floor-to-ceiling images depicting Gloucestershire landscapes.  The next step is for our architects to load these choices and ideas into their whizzy software and take the project’s Stakeholders Advisory Board members on a virtual tour to see how everything would look.  We’ll let you know how this goes.

Colour selections for Heritage Hub interior

Mock up ‘ideas board’ with provisional choices for wall  and floor coverings

We have four artists working on Arts Council England-funded installations for the onsite Hub: Stroud-based illustrator, Imogen Harvey Lewis is creating a donor tree for the new reception area and an external mural celebrating Gloucester through the ages; Cheltenham-based wood sculptor, Natasha Houseago is crafting a powerful vertical sculpture for the garden; artists from Berkeley-based Tomato Jack Arts are fashioning a mosaic timeline celebrating 800 years of Gloucestershire’s history, also to be displayed in the garden area; and Midlands-based textile artist Julia O’Connell is producing ‘Inspired by Gloucestershire’ wall hangings for the new volunteer workshop area and Gloucestershire Police Archive room.  The artists will be working with a diverse range of community groups to develop their respective installations and the finished works will be part of a suite of interpretive displays that celebrate our historic county.

There’s also an awful lot involved in masterminding the building project.  From the hundreds of decisions associated with the electrical specification to securing the right supplies and contractors for specialist construction work, there’s so much to consider.  And, as we’ve discovered, a single hiccup in the supply chain can bring things to a grinding halt.  This was the case when our builders tried to procure insulation for the three new strongrooms they’re erecting.  The insulation needs to be a particular type to meet the Archives Accreditation standard and we ended up waiting a long time for it.  This is because there are only two suppliers worldwide and one of them recently lost its premises to a fire.  Thankfully we’ve managed to secure what we need , works have recommenced and we now have dates for moving in: mid December for the soft launch of the main Hub building housing the new Archives’ research room, Family History Centre and Gloucestershire Police Archive room, and May 2018 for the soft launch of the new reception area and Frith Training Room.  We’ll be posting customer information about this on the Archives’ website at

There’s one final piece of news to share.  From now on my colleagues, Kim Kenny, Anthony Phillips and Jenny Rutland will be bringing the latest news from the bridge.  As for me, I’m beaming over to Gloucester City Council to become Head of Cultural and Trading Services.  I’m sad to be leaving Gloucestershire Archives at such an exciting time but delighted my new role will allow me to stay in the growing Heritage Hub network.  So I’ll still be helping to gather, keep and share the documented heritage of historic Gloucestershire.  ‘Just focussing on the records of its county town, the city of Gloucester.

Live long and prosper!

JS ID photo 2016

Jill Shonk

Access & Learning Leader


Gloucestershire’s archives revealed (3)

Model me a railway, Eric

Apart from qualified train drivers, how many of us have, in fact, driven a train? Maybe that question should actually be: how many of us want to drive a train?  I would – for the unique driving experience and the challenge of keeping hundreds of people simultaneously on track (excuse the pun) for their appointments.

The desire to drive trains is normally heightened if the train happens to be pre 1948, the year that saw the nationalisation of Britain’s railways. Regrettably, most of us could only drive one of these vintage vehicles if we visited a heritage railway line or, failing that, pretend. And by ‘pretend’ I mean building a model railway, rather than sitting on a chair making choo-choo and chuff-chuff noises. Continue reading