New family history resources from Gloucester cemetery, Tredworth Road

Between 1976 and 1987 Gloucester City Council decided to remove a large number of headstones from the chapel side of the old cemetery in Tredworth Road. This was to make maintenance of the grounds easier with machinery.

Advertisements were placed in The Gloucester Citizen asking if relatives objected and headstones marking graves of those who lost their lives in the two World Wars were exempt from the process.

Once this consultation process was complete the inscriptions from headstones identified for removal were recorded in registers prior to their removal. In instances where surviving relatives objected, the headstones were left in place.

Gloucester Cemetery Chapel side compress

Gloucester Cemetery

Gloucestershire Family History Society were given permission recently to photograph all of the entries in the registers, some 2,500 photographs, and then to transcribe those entries into a more accessible format.

Volunteers from GFHS have now completed this task and have constructed a searchable database which shows the transcription on the removed headstone together with details of others buried in the same plot. This project has preserved information which no longer exists by a visit to a burial plot.

You can access this searchable database at The Family History Centre in The Heritage Hub.

National recognition of some hard work behind the scenes…

As part of our work on the County Council’s archive, my colleague Helen and I have spent the last couple of years cataloguing social care and education records relating to the safeguarding of children. We are delighted to report that our work has been featured in the National Archives’ latest annual review – here is what it says: Continue reading

Scarcity of news + 1720’s= Poems! Extracts from…

Gloucester Journal

Image from the Journal showing church towers from left to right: St. Mary de Lode, Cathedral, St. John’s, St. Nicholas, St. Michael, St. Mary de Grace and St. Mary de Crypt, 13 April 1724, page 631

I came across an interesting fact whilst reading 1,339 facts to make your jaw drop, published in 2013: ‘In the 1720s, the Gloucester Journal apologised for ‘present scarcity of news’ and offered its readers a selection of poems instead.’ Continue reading

A new transport hub, the old cattle market – but no arthritic camels.

Personally, coach journeys are never something I look forward to. If there is any form of alternative transport available instead of a coach, I will always opt for that. Trains, planes, cars, tractors, ferries, speedboats, horseback, rickshaws, go-karts, arthritic camels and carrier pigeons are all preferable to coach travel, even though human-lifting carrier pigeons haven’t yet been invented.

I think my coach travel aversion was formed during school field trips away, where I’d spend the whole excruciatingly long journey doing my very best to make sure I wasn’t ill. Even now, the smell of coaches instantly brings back the intense and uncomfortable feelings of nausea that I felt back then, which sadly starts the whole process off again.

However, here’s the thing: when I travel on buses, I feel absolutely fine. The impending feeling of doom just doesn’t materialise. And yet, it’s essentially the same vehicle. I have never been able to work that out, and therefore find a cure, much to the disappointment of National Express executives everywhere. Continue reading

A new collection of records received about Ivor Gurney, and coming soon to a racecourse near you….

There’s been lots of respectful remembrance activity across Gloucestershire over the last week, and it’s not quite finished yet.  If you’re attending Cheltenham races on Sunday (18th), please make time to pop into the Centaur for a day long programme of activities and displays called Gloucestershire and Racing Remembers.  Gloucestershire Archives will have a presence, in partnership with Cheltenham Local History Society.

An image appearing in the Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucester Graphic for Saturday 16 March. When the racecourse should have been celebrating the annual National Hunt festival, it was instead being used as a VAD Hospital.

An image appearing in the Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucester Graphic for Saturday 16 March 1918. When the racecourse should have been celebrating the annual National Hunt festival, it was instead being used as a VAD Hospital.

Continue reading

Three cheers for volunteers!

Be prepared scouts

Be Prepared….for a strong sense of satisfaction.

Officially, National Volunteers’ Week takes place from 1st -7th June every year. Here at Gloucestershire Archives we have cause to be thankful to our large team of volunteers every week of the year. Volunteers do things as diverse as reminiscing with an older person at one of our EVOKE reminiscence sessions and helping us to develop and maintain our profile on Social Media.

On 1st December we’ve invited all our volunteers to tea as a way of saying ‘thank you’ – but volunteers tell us that they already feel rewarded for their time and expertise:

I was always a ‘doer’ and I didn’t see that that should stop when I retired. I’m using skills I developed over a long working life, but I’m using them in a new way. I’ve surprised myself by how much I’ve got out of it.’

‘It wasn’t that I was bored – I work part-time and I’ve got children at school – but I wanted to meet some new people and try something different. In that sense it’s been a very positive experience’.

 If you’d like to find out more about volunteering opportunities with us, please get in touch with Sally Middleton our Community Heritage Development Manager.

Further delving into Dowty

Hello from a combination of my desk facing the wall (and just able to see the wooden sculpture being worked on, and the mosaics being installed) and Strongroom 11, which houses the bulk of the Dowty archive and where I seem to spend most of the time I’m not at my desk.

It is now 6 months since the project to work on the Dowty project formally started, which means I am a quarter of the way through – which is actually quite scary. But I’ve been working on it a bit before that too, and can finally say that I’m fairly up to speed with various engineering terms I had never heard about before, as well as the Dowty company structure, locations of its various offices and factories all over the world, and some key people within the Dowty group whose papers I am working on.

Dowty Rotol rugby sevens team from the 1950s

Dowty Rotol rugby sevens team from the 1950s

For those of you who don’t know, the Dowty archive takes up about 1500 boxes’ worth of space on our shelves. That’s a huge number of records, and my approach has been to work on the archive semi-systematically. When I first started, I spent quite a lot of time in the strongroom labelling boxes and noting what was in them, which had been roughly done on the outside anyway, and also opening up each transfer packet (the transfer packets tend to be stored out of boxes on the shelves, and probably take up about 1/3 of the space) and noting down in further detail what was in each packet. Once I’d finished that, I then went back to the beginning to work on the transfer packets as a proper listing project (rather than noting files down) and also to open up the boxes and list and package the material in those. The semi-systematic approach was a deliberate ploy to keep myself on my toes, as I had quickly realised that listing a lot of the same types of record would get quite dull! So I decided to work on a bay – 20 boxes – at a time and then moved on to some transfer packets for another 20 boxes’ worth, then back to the original boxes. Given that the first 78 boxes in the collection were very small files of correspondence relating to patents from the 1960s-1980s, this allowed me to step away from the world of patents and into the world of audits, or accounts, or legal files, before becoming tired of them and being able to surround myself in patents again.

At the time of writing, I have now listed, numbered and repackaged 173 boxes and 200 transfer packets, and the pace is quickening – depending on the material inside the box, I’m able to do between 3 and 8 boxes a day, but the first 80 boxes were very slow as there was so much in them, and this is now out of the way. I decided to repackage the items as I went along, and give them temporary numbers (the box number and a sub-number) so that when I come to The Big Sort towards the end of the project, all I will have to do is write the permanent catalogue numbers on the documents rather than fiddle around with folders and archive tape as well, which will also save time.

My aim is to have 500 of the 750 standard archive boxes of material listed and repackaged by the beginning of April next year, and 700 of the 1100 transfer packets. This means that the second half of the project will involve less listing and more sorting, and will also give me more time to tackle the photographic material and electronic material which is housed in our special photographic strongroom, which volunteers are starting to list now but which will need more careful packaging and storage, taking up more of my attention.

I have 5 on-site volunteers currently, and a further four who are involved in oral history interviews and work on our website, which has been taking shape and is really being populated after its launch at the end of August. I am about to welcome another volunteer and as I work on the material I keep finding tasks for volunteers to do. Two are working on patents, two (and the new volunteer) on photographs and one on site plans. I am really looking forward to volunteers getting bogged down in listing apprentice records and doing some social history research using the brochures and newsletters.

If you’d like to look at the website, the web address is www.dowtyheritage.org.uk. If you have any photographs or stories to share about the Dowty company, then the website is an opportunity to do that. It would be great to hear more stories and see more pictures from peoples’ time working for this massive company.