The dust has settled after the first stages of our building works and this has been another relatively quiet week, other than the removal of some air ducts. The lull is down to the discovery of some previously unidentified asbestos and we need to follow a proper process for removing this. But there’s always a bright side and the current waiting game presents an ideal opportunity for the site tours we were hoping to offer.
First in the queue for tours are our ‘For the Record’ project partners. And we began yesterday by showing a few key members of the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives around. The photo below shows us in what’s going to be the new Heritage Hub reception area, wearing our Mickey Mouse shoes and egg head hats, and looking at the architects plans to get a better idea of what the spaces are going to look like.
Left to right: Jill Shonk, Heather Forbes, Liz Jack, Stephen Haygarth and Hilary Haygarth.
We plan to offer bookable tours to anyone who’s interested later on in the building programme. If you come along we hope that you, like us, will be excited by what’s happening!
This week our builders have been busying themselves with behind the scenes arrangements to progress the next stages of construction. So I thought you might like to look ahead with me, to get a taste of what the Heritage Hub is going to be like when it’s finished.
Firstly, hot off the press, here’s the latest image of how it’s going to look. Very smart!
We want the inside to be stylish too, and are looking forward to receiving the draft mood boards soon. These will help us to consider the look and feel of the internal spaces, and to make good interior design choices, bearing everyone’s needs in mind.
Like our builders, we too have been making behind the scenes plans. But ours are about adorning the building and its surrounding site. There are two strands to these: internal and external interpretive displays that reveal a potted history of the historic county of Gloucestershire’s cultural and natural heritage; and, on a functional level, information sharing media and signage that will show visitors what the Heritage Hub has to offer. We’ll be working with stakeholders and community groups to develop these over the coming months. And we’re eagerly waiting to hear if our allied bid to Arts Council England has been successful, as it would allow us to include more art installations as part of our storytelling. We should know the outcome in mid May. ‘Fingers crossed!
Earlier this week I happened to glance through the window of one of our decommissioned office spaces. And I saw the strangest sight: a blue polythene tunnel leading to the door of one of our outbuildings and, just outside it, a weird looking being, not unlike an astronaut.
“What’s going on?” I wondered. “Are we hosting Sci-Fi productions as a new income generation scheme? Or maybe I’ve missed headline news about a zombie apocalypse in Gloucester?”
Thankfully, the aliens hadn’t landed and there was a simple explanation for the tunnel and the man in coveralls – asbestos removal. This work is taking place in both our main building and the Horsa huts opposite the old overflow parking area. It is an essential part of our building programme and is being carried out by experts. Once it’s been completed, it will allow our builders to push on with the removal of internal walls (to create new Heritage Hub spaces) and demolish the Horsa huts (to provide a new onsite access route). All being well, we should see some of this action next week. Meantime, “Live long and prosper”!
These photos show the controls needed to remove asbestos from a floor duct. The route is sealed to prevent the escape of fibres. Workers take a shower in the mobile unit after they have taken off their overalls and masks, which they put into sealed plastic bags.
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.
Founded in 1899, the Victoria County History (so named because of its dedication to Queen Victoria) aspires to create a scholarly history of every parish in every County in England. It is organised on a County basis and the first Gloucestershire volume was published in 1907. There was then a gap in production until the 1960s, but volumes have since been produced on a regular basis.
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!
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!
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.
Did you know that the Archives’ site is used for purposes other than just caring for and making available the County’s historic documents? For instance, the Gloucester branch of Gloucestershire Family History Society holds their meetings here once a month, currently in the Frith Centre. Anyone is welcome to attend, although a small charge is made for refreshments, and you can find a list of the upcoming events at http://gfhs.org.uk/events-2/action_agenda/cat_ids~29/. Continue reading →