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.

Delving into Dowty: opening up a new and important business collection

In the 1990s, a large business archive was offered to Gloucestershire Archives by the Dowty Group, an engineering firm based in Cheltenham but with subsidiary companies and factories not only throughout the UK but in South Africa, the USA, Canada and Australia among other far-spreading countries, employing thousands of people. Gloucestershire Archives took the collection, knowing it would require significant external funding to catalogue it. It was necessary to take the collection at the time because the Group had just been taken over and its assets were being sold off; the archive was therefore at risk of being dispersed or destroyed. More recently, the necessary external funding became available with the “For the Record” project, part of which paid for my job as the Community Cataloguing Archivist for two years to catalogue and open up the extensive archive. Continue reading

Lucky 13 for Gloucestershire history

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.

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The “Boxes of Delight” project reveals the amazing but true tale of the Bown family, by Lauren Perrett

“Boxes of Delights” was an 18 month project funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Scheme. It focussed on the archives of two long established firms of Cirencester solicitors (now merged as Sewell Mullings Logie LLP).  Our online catalogue now holds detailed descriptions of both firms’ archives:  Sewell, Rawlings & Logie collection  D181 and Mullings Ellett & Co collection: D1388. Their clients came from far afield, not just Cirencester, so the documents reflect this spread with many deeds and estate papers relating to the South Cotswolds area.  A team of volunteers contributed over 1,000 hours support to the project, and here Lauren, one of the team, reveals the results of some of her work:

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Election day in Cheltenham 1841, by Catherine Vaughton

The ‘List of Electors’ booklet mentioned below was discovered by members of Cheltenham Local History Society as part of their project to catalogue the archive of Ticehurst and Wyatt, solicitors of Cheltenham, for Gloucestershire Archives. The cataloguing is also helpful to the compilers of the Victoria County History of Gloucestershire Cheltenham volume, who are making good use of the work.

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Gloucester Rural District Council Planning Applications by Tony Conder and Pam Daw

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