Happy 40th, Gloucestershire Family History Society!

The Gloucestershire Family History Society (GFHS) was founded 40 years ago this April. As we all know, 40 is a significant birthday (hang on though, if 60’s the new 40, that only makes them 20… Move on! Ed) and so it was only right and proper that this milestone was marked by a special event.

And so, on Sunday 28 April, we were joined by around 250 people who came to see the GFHS in their smart new home at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub- a pleasingly high number as lots of people had heard about the event on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.  Some 40 GFHS volunteers were on hand during the day to welcome visitors and show them the Resource Centre.

Visitors in the GFHS resource centre

The day included 3 talks: Nick Barratt – a familiar face to viewers of Who Do You Think You Are –  looked ahead to “Family History in the Future” and Amelia Bennett of the Society of Genealogists gave “An Introduction to DNA & Family History”, de-mystifying an exciting but to some (well, me!) baffling area.  Experienced family historian and GFHS member Jenny Eastwood spoke on “Starting Your Family History”.

An unusual badge!

The Heritage Hub is also home to Gloucestershire Archives and – as from this summer – the Gloucestershire PoIice Archive group. Archives staff gave behind the scenes tours to over 50 visitors showing them a strongroom,  the fledging community garden or “ShrubHub”, and a fascinating conservation display which included a special guest appearance by Raikes the Rat.






Yes, that is a policeman’s helmet you see on the table

Sue Webb of the Gloucestershire Police Archive team was on hand with a display of documents and was able to give people lots of useful pointers to finding their police ancestors.


Continuing the law and order theme the rogues’ gallery of prisoners in Gloucester gaol, part of the Archives’ document display, attracted lots of interest.

The research room was buzzing with groups and exhibitors including the Guild of One Name Studies, the Bristol & Avon Family History Society and the Cheltenham Local History Society who were showing people how to use the Know Your Place digital mapping resource to find suffragettes and World War 1 soldiers.

Highnam WI did us proud with the catering

You can’t have a birthday party without a birthday cake.!

This amazing confection was made by long serving GFHS member Liz Jack. It provided a fitting centrepiece for the address by Colin Chapman, the Society’s founder and President.

All in all it was a great day, brilliantly organised by Andy & Jeanette Sysum, and we hope it will encourage lots of you to visit us as you delve into your family tree.  I’ll give the final word to one of the Society’s founding members who has contacted us to say “I came to the 40th anniversary of GFHS today and was delighted with what a vibrant organisation it has become”.

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