Blogging a Building (23) – the end of an era, by Heather Forbes

On 7th December 2020 we signed the completion certificate for Gloucestershire Heritage Hub.  This signified the end of the snagging period following the handover of the completed building and site in August 2019.  It therefore seemed appropriate to bring to an end this series of Blogging a Building, started by Jill Shonk back in February 2017. You can read the whole series here by searching for Blogging a Building, and see a pictorial record of how the building project developed from January 2017 to December 2020. We accidently missed out number 18, ambitiously jumping from 17 to 19! 

Continue reading

One of our volunteers sent this lovely feedback….

I’m everyone’s volunteer. In normal times I would be dashing between Gloucester Cathedral, Berkeley Castle, Cheltenham College, Cobalt and of course Gloucestershire Archives. I like to use my brain to do something potentially useful, I like learning new things, meeting people with the same interests and chatting to fellow volunteers, friends I have made over the years. All that stopped with lockdown.

John Humphris’ probate inventory, 1690, mentioning the hogs (see below)
Continue reading

Cataloguing the Stanley Gardiner photographic collection: the volunteers’ story (by Camilla Boon and Roger Carnt).

Sitting in fourteen boxes in a refrigerated strong room at Gloucestershire Archives, Stanley Gardiner’s collection of over 5,500 old images of views, events and people in and around Stroud’s Five Valleys  was an obvious goldmine for anyone interested in local history. The problem was that the collection was uncatalogued. The wrong choice of box number might bring you traction engines, not images of Rodborough, and heaven help you if you were just hoping for something on Edwardian farming!

Continue reading

Tracking the owners of land in 1873

On a shelf in the Frith Room at the Heritage Hub are two large, fat, blue-bound tomes labelled ‘Return of owners of land 1873’.  They tell us that the Returns were ‘Presented to Both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty’ and were printed in 1875. The first volume contained English counties from Bedford to Norfolk (so included Gloucestershire) and the second Northampton to Yorkshire West Riding, also the Welsh counties. London was not included. The information was arranged in two sets of seven columns on each page. They record the surname of the owner in alphabetical order in each county, followed by christian name(s) and title, the address of the owner, the amount of land owned in acres, roods and perches, and the value in pounds and shillings. Nearly a million names were listed, 37,705 in Gloucestershire.

You have to admire the compositors of the time who set up the type, back to front in the ‘forms’ which could then be inked and printed. You have also to admire the clerks in the Civil Service who coped with the varieties of hand-writing on the returns from each Poor Law Union in the country, as were the returns transcribed by a willing and persevering band of volunteers for Lloyd George’s attempt to tax the increasing value of land. The Unions were the effective local governments of the time. Jean Gibbons has searched for some of the mysterious addresses in 1873. ‘Rhirdeville’ –  nothing else said –  was Rhodeville in Leckhampton. Other house names, too, were given without stating the place.

Owners of land did not necessarily live where they owned land. Ninety-five people lived in Cheltenham, and owned land  in Gloucestershire varying from 1 acre to nearly 2,000 acres; Richard R C Rogers owned nearly 3,000 acres. Thirty-six people lived in Bath. The really big land-owners, like Lord Fitzharding at Berkeley Castle (18,264 acres ) or Lord Sherborne at Sherborne Lodge (15,773) owned land in many other places. 

At present we are transcribing those owning 10 acres or more: 3,281 names.

by Anthea Jones, Gloucestershire Archives researcher

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.

Continue reading

New Book Stock – January 2020, by Sue Constance

There is a fascinating array of books on the New Book Stock shelves in the searchroom at the moment.  Most of them were published and added to stock during 2019.

This is just a small selection of items available for research at Gloucestershire Archives.Gloucestershire Archives is always grateful to receive items in printed or digital format to enhance stock.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading