About "For the Record" at Gloucestershire Archives

Our collaborative approach to gathering, keeping and sharing the documented heritage of local communities in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.

Building work started

Hurrah!  Works to create the Heritage Hub (new facilities and premises) at our Alvin Street premises in Gloucester are now underway, ably led by Paul Lander, the Site Manager employed by our builder, Lakehouse, to oversee things.


Left to right: Heather Forbes, Head of Archives; Paul Lander, Site Manager; Cllr Ray Theodoulou, Gloucestershire County Council; John Herring, Dowty Archive Project; David Poole, Gloucestershire Family History Society (GFHS); Ann Attwood, Hannah Dale, Karen Davidson and Helen Bartlett, Gloucestershire Archives (GA); David Howells, GFHS; and Jill Shonk, GA.

Paul and his team have until the end of this year to complete the planned works, which will be done in two phases.  And, all being well, we should have the new Archives research room and Gloucestershire Family History Centre Facilities up and running by the summer.  Meanwhile, we’re doing our best to offer a service that’s pretty much ‘business as usual’ for everyone that wants to use the documents in our collections.  So we’re running a temporary research room in the Frith Centre, which is next to our main building – it’s a bit smaller than we’re used to but we can assure you of the same warm welcome!

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

January 2017 heralds new arrangements for safeguarding and sharing historic Gloucestershire’s archives – the emergence of Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, which we’re developing as part of our ‘For the Record‘ project: gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives/fortherecord

 So, what exactly is Gloucestershire Heritage Hub?  Well, it’s a growing network of people with a common interest in the documented history of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.   During the course of this year the Hub’s founding members (key project stakeholders) will be setting up arrangements to connect such likeminded folks and help them to gather, keep and share the documented history of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire – records that already exist and those that will be created over time.   Amongst other things, we’re going to create a virtual Heritage Hub (website and social networking) and an onsite Heritage Hub (new facilities and services at our Alvin Street premises in Gloucester).

Illustration of new Heritage Hub

‘3D cutaway’ illustration of the new Heritage Hub (reproduced courtesy of Roberts Limbrick Architects)

So everyone will be able to get involved in ways that work best for them, either individually or as members of local interest groups, working at the onsite Hub or in homes and communities.  All very exciting!

If you’d like updates about the ‘For the Record’ project or are interested in joining our growing Heritage Hub community you can subscribe to the new Gloucestershire Heritage Hub e-newsletter.  You can find the first edition at http://glos-heritage-hub.tfemagazine.co.uk/heritage-hub-winter-2016

Heritage Hub partners feature at Police Open Day

The Open Day at police headquarters is always a great opportunity to showcase Gloucestershire’s amazing police heritage.  This year’s event, on Saturday 17 September,  was the best one yet with over five and a half thousand visitors coming through the gates.

The Police Archive Group, Gloucestershire Archives and Gloucestershire Family History Society were all brought together in the “history zone”, with complementary displays and expertise.   Everyone was kept very busy with people finding out what will be on offer in the new Heritage Hub as well as seeing what’s available in the police archives. There were lots of enquiries about police ancestors and the team of police volunteers will be following up many of over the coming weeks.


We made sure to take along the register of rural Constabulary- a star item from the official police archives.  It’s packed with information about the earliest recruits to the new Force in 1839, and the neat copper plate handwriting is a source of wonder to children of the digital age.


And there’s still interesting material at large in the community – we had promises of photographs and memories from ex officers and from people who had suitcases, belonging to ex members of the constabulary, in their attics. There were also some tentative enquiries from people not connected to the police who were interested in joining the archive group. It was also great to hear that many people were already aware of the police archive website that went live just a couple of weeks ago.

All in all, a very productive day.

Co-authored by Sue Webb, police archive officer, and Kate Maisey, Gloucestershire Archive development officer.

Police archive website – www.gloucestershirepolicearchives.org.uk

Who’s been digging holes at Alvin Street?

This week we’ve had specialist site investigators on site,  making trial pits and bore holes around the main Archives building.  Thankfully, most of the work was outdoors.  But we couldn’t avoid the hole in the visitor coffee lounge – sorry!

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These geological investigations will tell us about the engineering and environmental characteristics of the areas we plan to develop or build on.  And our project architects will use this information to fine tune decisions about building design, including the sorts of foundations we’re going to need for the new strongrooms and Heritage Hub spaces, which is pretty exciting!

We appreciate it has been a bit noisy this week but the work is paving the way for project dreams to become a reality, so please bear with us.

We will be able to announce a start date soon – so watch this space!

In other news…

Gloucester History Festival 2016Don’t forget there are still lots of events going on in the city for Gloucester History Festival. Visit http://gloucesterhistoryfestival.co.uk/ or see our blog post from last week for more details.

Heritage Open Days (8-11 Sept)

The city is proud to take part in the national Heritage Open Days’ Scheme. The Open Days encourage people to discover the wonderful diversity of our local heritage and in Gloucester members of the public have the opportunity to go behind doors and gates that are normally closed to the public; some of the city’s real gems are hidden from the first-time visitor. The Open Days give people an opportunity to discover and explore the wonders of the city. Many volunteers lead guided tours of the city and buildings, often in traditional costume and make history come alive. Find out more at https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting and search for Gloucester.


Behind the ‘Thin Blue Line’ – making connections with the Gloucestershire Police archive

At the end of April Gloucestershire Constabulary appointed Sue Webb as their project assistant. Sue brings a wealth of useful experience to the project from her background as a former police constable and head teacher.

She will be supported by expertise from three University of Gloucestershire interns who will be helping with the police archive activity strand during the 2016-17 academic year. They will be adding content to the police archive website and recording spoken histories of current and former Force members.

Sue recently took part in the recent Collections Care pilot training alongside three of the core police archive volunteers and one of our interns, Alex Griffiths.

Sue said, “The project is very exciting, although the Force archive group has been in existence for 16 years, in several different forms, the items for the collection seem to be scattered far and wide.  Part of my role is to try to bring some consistency and continuity to the archive and explore some of the elements that the volunteers do not have time for. So many elements so little time!“

The project website has been in a fledgling state for about 18 months and is nearly ready to go live: http://www.gloucestershirepolicearchives.org.uk

It will not only share information with other stakeholders but also bring the archive group to the attention to both police and non-police persons. We want to encourage everyone to get involved with the force history, helping the collection and information grow.

Sue said, “We have already started putting out feelers to start a project on the floods of 2007 and may try to link this to reminiscences of the floods of 1947. We are aware that there are now a large number of police staff involved in these operations and want to ensure that their views are heard as well as those of police officers.  All in all it will be a very exciting year.”

Sue Webb (right) and Marion Chandler, who was the first woman superintendent in Gloucestershire, taken at the Cheltenham local history afternoon on 13th August.


Back to the future – the Virtual Heritage Hub

The ‘For the Record’ Stakeholders Advisory Board has made good headway with plans to develop a virtual Heritage Hub.

What is it?

Like the onsite Hub, it will offer facilities – in this case, digital ones –  that support people to gather, keep, share and use archives. The Board has already agreed a specification and we are setting up a stakeholder team to develop and manage the virtual Heritage Hub – so watch this space!

The virtual hub will be made up of the website and social networking sites so you can share your stories with everyone. Until then, we need your help to do it the old fashioned way:


Your Place in History

We’re looking for quotes and archival images to display in the new onsite Heritage Hub and would welcome your ideas:

  • Pithy comments about your experience of archives. E.g. ‘History is the glue that holds communities together’ (Historical Research Group, Sittingbourne, Kent);
  • Short quotes from archives and/or iconic archival images to inspire or intrigue Hub visitors.


Birthday celebrations

2016 marks the 80th birthday of Gloucestershire Archives and the 90th birthday of the building. So we’re also looking for contributions to our birthday celebrations in the autumn:

  • A story or anecdote about Gloucestershire Archives or our current home, the former Kingsholm School;
  • Or nominate your favourite archive (with reasons why) to feature in the birthday celebrations or future blogs.


We’d love to hear from you. Please contact brenda.fenner@gloucestershire.gov.uk or send your contributions by post to Gloucestershire Archives by 23 September please.

Our summer plans and what they mean for you

It’s been a busy few months and the project is beginning to gather momentum. We’ve all been beavering away, mostly behind the scenes, to prepare for the planned building work at Gloucestershire Archives’ Alvin Street site. And we’ve been making headway with the project’s programme of activities to help people gather, keep and share local archives.

So what’s happening at Alvin Street? Continue reading