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
We’re celebrating an important anniversary this week. Our current building, originally designed as the Kingsholm Council Schools, was formally opened by the mayor of Gloucester 90 years ago, on 11 October 1926.
The red-brick, single storey building is a significant feature of the local landscape in Kingsholm. And the original layout is still recognisable despite many changes over the years so it brings back memories of old friends and shared experiences when former pupils visit the Archives.
Image of the present-day front of the building.
As well as these very personal memories we’re lucky to have a variety of written material with details of the original building work and then the school’s working life. It was the first school built by the City Council after World War 1 and its completion represented a triumph over what the mayor described as ‘extraordinary difficulties’. These included the sudden death of the architect and shortages of both manpower and materials in the economic depression following the end of the war. The first pupils appreciated its innovative, modern design and state-of-the-art facilities including central heating and hot water on tap. Amenities we take for granted today but which few of the pupils would have enjoyed at home in the 1920s.
Image of the opening ceremony on the front steps from the Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic, 16 October 1926
After the school closed in 1973, Gloucestershire County Council bought the site and adapted the building to house the County Record Office. The move across Gloucester from Shire Hall took place in 1979 and we’ve been here ever since!
We want to celebrate our building’s 90th anniversary so we’re holding a free ‘drop-in’ event in Roots Community Café in Alvin Street on Tuesday 22 November between 10:30am and 3:00pm. There’ll be a small display about the history of the school and also the county’s archives service which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. So it is a double celebration for us. If you (or a member of your family) were a pupil at the school or attended social events there, we’d love to hear your memories so please contact us.
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 →
If you’ve been following our recent blog posts you’ll know that we’ve been exploring the history of our site, just off Alvin Street in Gloucester, as part of the “For the Record” project.
We’ve looked at documents about this building’s history as Kingsholm School, at maps showing the plant nursery that was on this site in the 1850s, and at a map of Gloucester’s civil war defences showing this area. What we didn’t know much about was the site’s earlier history, which is where the archaeologists came in! Continue reading →