About Gloucestershire Archives

Collecting, preserving and sharing the documentary heritage of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire

EVOKE reminiscence project

I’m always writing little notes to myself as I increasingly find that things are liable to slip my mind.

Postit

Being based at Gloucestershire Archives is a daily reminder of the importance of preserving our shared history, and how the story of our family is the story of us.

Kate O'Keefe, Engagement Manager for Older People

Kate O’Keefe

My name is Kate O’Keefe and I’ve been appointed to manage the EVOKE reminiscence project which is part of For The Record’. EVOKE aims to help people living with memory loss and dementia, using a reminiscence-based approach which has been shown to ‘increase the confidence of carers, improve communication with those living with dementia, and provide resources to support people to live well with dementia’.

Reconnecting people with their past is something I was involved in when I worked at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum: I was part of an education team which took ‘handling’ objects from the collections out into the community. I’ll never forget seeing a woman’s horrified expression on seeing a washing dolly, as she remembered the drudgery of wash days when she was newly married. Or a retired farmer who, cradling a set of long combination underwear, attributed his long life and good health to the fact that he had worn something very similar in his youth.

The EVOKE project aims to make a similar impact. It will use a computer ‘app’ called House of Memories to deliver reminiscence sessions which will be sparked by a specially created Gloucestershire package of photos and other memorabilia.  House of Memories was developed by staff at Liverpool Museums. It’s won awards and plenty of evidence has been collected to show that it has a positive impact on people living with memory loss and dementia, generating a good feeling which lasts beyond the sessions.

If you know about a group or a setting which you think might enjoy an informal session with House of Memories, or if you would like to get involved with the project, please get in touch with me.

Kate O’Keefe

Engagement Manager for Older People

Gloucestershire Archives GL1 3DW

01452 425447 katherine.o’keefe@gloucestershire.gov.uk

Remembering the Holocaust

You may have seen Gloucestershire Archives’ online exhibition telling the story of ten young Jewish refugees who came to Gloucester in 1939. As we mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, we’re pleased to be able to share the moving story of one of those boys, as told by his son, Michael Zorek.

My father, Warren Zorek, passed away in December of 2006 at the age of 81. 68 years earlier, when he was just 13, his family was awaiting word about his admission into a program started soon after Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass. This program allowed parents to send their children, some as young as 2, but not older than 16, out of Nazi occupied Europe until the political strife blew over. Continue reading

Kingsholm School’s 90th anniversary

We’re celebrating an important anniversary this week.  Our current building, originally designed as the Kingsholm Council Schools, was formally opened by the mayor of Gloucester 90 years ago, on 11 October 1926.

The red-brick, single storey building is a significant feature of the local landscape in Kingsholm.  And the original layout is still recognisable despite many changes over the years so it brings back memories of old friends and shared experiences when former pupils visit the Archives.

Photo of front of Gloucestershire Archives building.

Image of the present-day front of the building.

As well as these very personal memories we’re lucky to have a variety of written material with details of the original building work and then the school’s working life.  It was the first school built by the City Council after World War 1 and its completion represented a triumph over what the mayor described as ‘extraordinary difficulties’.  These included the sudden death of the architect and shortages of both manpower and materials in the economic depression following the end of the war.  The first pupils appreciated its innovative, modern design and state-of-the-art facilities including central heating and hot water on tap.  Amenities we take for granted today but which few of the pupils would have enjoyed at home in the 1920s.

Photo of crowds attending the opening ceremony

Image of the opening ceremony on the front steps from the Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic, 16 October 1926

After the school closed in 1973, Gloucestershire County Council bought the site and adapted the building to house the County Record Office.  The move across Gloucester from Shire Hall took place in 1979 and we’ve been here ever since!

We want to celebrate our building’s 90th anniversary so we’re holding a free ‘drop-in’ event in Roots Community Café in Alvin Street on Tuesday 22 November between 10:30am and 3:00pm.  There’ll be a small display about the history of the school and also the county’s archives service which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.  So it is a double celebration for us.  If you (or a member of your family) were a pupil at the school or attended social events there, we’d love to hear your memories so please contact us.

The Musicians of Twyning

Having lived close to the Dorset border for more than twenty years, one is inclined to take an interest in the works of Thomas Hardy. For me the ‘Mellstock Quire’ going their Christmas rounds is a memorable image, and even better is the same cast of characters who appear in a short story, leading the singing in church, then falling asleep during the sermon, and waking up to find themselves playing a dance-tune instead of the final hymn, being thrown out of church for ever by the squire, and replaced by a barrel organ. It is funny and poignant, with scarcely any of the accustomed Hardyesque melancholy.[1]

Continue reading