Life on the Gloucestershire Home Front, by John Putley

When, on Sunday 3rd September 1939, the public were informed that Britain was again at war with Germany, few people were surprised.  Initially life remained oddly ordinary, but although as time passed there were air raids and other characteristics of the war, nothing particularly terrible or terrifying took place on a large scale.  Gloucestershire was never in the front line in either the 1940 invasion scare (though if the Germans had invaded, the Severn Estuary was the goal of a second assault) or the 1944 D-Day preparations, but the sense of involvement in the conflict thanks to the Blackout, the media and rationing, made the Home Front very real for most people.

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Dowty in the Second World War

The original company formed by Sir George Dowty to manufacture aircraft equipment, named Aircraft Components and then Dowty Equipment, was formed in 1931, eight years before the start of World War 2. It meant that by the time war broke out, the company had prepared itself for the massive increase in orders and, as a result, factory space. By 1940, when Dowty Equipment was named, there were nearly 3000 people employed by the company and various sub-contractors around the country as well as in Canada and the USA. Dowty was able to claim that by the end of the war “not a single aeroplane during the war years had ever been grounded for lack of a Dowty spare”. Continue reading

A field trip to another era.

Who remembers their school trips? I’m sure you can recall a few memorable ones, can’t you? I know I can.

Going ice skating at the rink in Swindon was one of them. That wasn’t particularly memorable in itself, as I was both rubbish at ice skating and very accomplished at falling over, so combining the two made me rather damp and helped change my skin colour to various shades of ‘bruise’.

But what I do remember is my classmate executing his falling over routine far more impressively than my efforts. He even decided to top the lot and end his performance with a show stopping ankle breaking routine. There was no way I was going to compete with that, as my ankles certainly didn’t want to extend the competition all the way to the local hospital’s operating theatre. So I let him win that one.

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Dear Diary…

By John Putley

The diaries of William Thomas Swift, schoolmaster & teacher, 1860-1915 are a remarkable series of documents with entries for every single day from 31 December 1859, when the diarist was eighteen years old, until 5 February 1915, just five days before his death at the age of 73.  Early entries are brief, but as time goes on they become more and more comprehensive and none more so than the entries for the various Christmas holidays that he recorded.   They reveal a Christmas that most of us would easily recognise today, despite the fact that they took place over a century ago.

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Its Festival time again!

Next week is the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester.  If you carry out a search of the phrase Three Choirs Festival on our online catalogue you get 579 hits, including programmes, musical scores and printed histories of the Festival and its key performers.  The Festival was originally called the music meeting and was in existence by 1718.  If you’re visiting it don’t forget that you can see any of the items listed on the catalogue here at the Heritage Hub, as long as you give us prior notice of the items you wish to see.  You can either order documents directly through the catalogue, or by emailing archives@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

The Heritage Hub is making its own contribution to the Festival by hosting two talks, both of which are free to access without prior booking, and are specifically timed to avoid events on the Festival programme.

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Controlling archival ferment: the West Country Breweries Collection at GA, by Mike Bevan

Gloucestershire Archives has been stock checking, listing, enhancing and structuring the collection ready to being fully catalogued into CALM, with the help of volunteer Amber Patrick, also a member of GSIA (Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology) and an expert in the Maltings Industry. Is she partial to an amber ale then? No, she doesn’t drink beer!

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub’s nearest pub, which has a West Country Brewery plaque on the exterior

The series of photographs taken of the staff at the brewery is an interesting feature which can be useful for family history reseachers, looking for relatives employed by the brewery. Another good set of photos are of b/w inn signs which again allow locals to identify with their specific landscape and memory; and connecting their local pub with an image of what the sign would have looked like in the past.

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Port of Gloucester Crew Lists all ship shape thanks to volunteers!, by Ann Attwood

Mags and Terri with repackaged D3080 boxes

Working 1 morning a week from November 2015 to October 2018, Margaret and Terri ploughed through 44 large boxes coming across mutinies, shipwrecks and desertions along the way.

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