So, what’s been happening this week? Well, our builders have removed the giant slab that formed the base of the Horsa Hut they demolished last week. The excavator swapped its careful claw for a pummelling pecker and broke it into tiny pieces. Result! You can see, but not hear (unlike those of us working onsite!), this for yourself from the images below – also by clicking on this video link: https://youtu.be/Y6hKgdm3s90
These works are all part of the groundworks needed to prepare the way for the three new specialist storage rooms (‘strongrooms’ in archives-speak) that are going to be built onto the back of our main building. They also involved an unexpected rescue operation: saving and re-homing a displaced hedgehog, now safe in our Archives Support Officer, Jenny’s garden and enjoying the company of other prickly friends.
Recently rescued hedgehog happily snoozing
Back inside, the inner entrance door to the old Archives reception has been removed and the builders are ready to knock down some walls to create the new Heritage Hub spaces. They’ll be able to get on with this as soon as they have the necessary propping design (another new term for my construction vocabulary). I’m discovering there’s a lot more to this building malarkey than meets the eye!
As hoped, there’s been plenty of visible action this week!
Inside, our builders have begun the process of removing internal walls to create the new Archives research room and linked volunteer workspaces. And the view from the corridor outside my office door has changed, as you can see from the image below.
Former Archives reception area, leading to former research room
In its current state, it’s easy to imagine how the building must have worked when it was home to Kingsholm School. More so if we add in the reminiscences of former pupils – apparently the long, wide corridor doubled up as a gym!
If you look closely at the image you’ll also spot the walls that are due to be removed as works progress (the blue ‘OUT’ lettering is the giveaway), so we can begin to see what the building should look like when it reopens as Gloucestershire Heritage Hub.
Outside, the landscape has changed dramatically! The Horsa Huts next to the railway track have gone, freeing up space for a new access route to our collections storage areas. It’s been a fascinating learning experience, watching the Huts (formerly a conservation lab and archaeology store) disappear: I was expecting to see everything flattened in a dramatic swoop but I was wrong. Instead, an excavator operator carefully deconstructed the Huts using a muncher (‘get me’ with my new vocabulary!), picking off the different construction materials and sorting them into piles, ready for recycling. You can see this for yourself if you click on this link: https://youtu.be/PTVW5-ar1iw
When she was very little, my eldest daughter used to say she was “making a baking” when we cooked together. Nowadays she’s a fabulous baker who makes artisan cakes for a living. But her funny little turn of phrase got me thinking – I could keep you posted about our own creation, the new Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, by “blogging a building”! So here’s the first entry in my virtual diary…
Over the past week or so, we’ve discovered what it’s like to be working next to a building site. Some of us, like me, are quite literally next to it! Here’s the view from my office door:
To be honest, we’re finding it all quite exciting. Sure, there’s been a bit of noise and the odd power outage that’s inevitable when deconstructing old buildings but there have been visible changes every day. Take last Friday, for example: that was the day when the parquet flooring was lifted – it was scooped out of the building by a giant digger!
More recently, the builders turned their hands to one of the sheds at the rear of the site, as part of the preparations for building the new strong rooms. As you can see, Heather got stuck in with her sledge hammer, under Paul’s supervision (kidding!).
Heather Forbes, Head of Archives with Paul Lander, Site Manager
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!
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 →
Pam Daw and Tony Conder have completed a catalogue of the planning permissions sought for the suburban ring round Gloucester’s historic core between 1909 and 1960 (DA27).
Early entries are mostly for houses and villas along the then leafy roads leading into Gloucester; there is nothing particularly grand, just small scale expansion. Among them are smithies, shops and agricultural improvements. Many local architects and builders feature in these records. Continue reading →
Gloucester’s High Cross, as shown in the 1455 Gloucester rental
Every year, on New Year’s Eve, Gloucester residents gather at ‘The Cross’ to celebrate the coming of the New Year. The vast majority of them believe that The Cross is so-named because it is where the four ‘Gate’ streets meet in the middle of the city. Not so! It is named after the original stone memorial cross that stood at the junction for hundreds of years.