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.
People in the past had to fight for many of the rights we take for granted today, although the battles they chose and the way they fought depended on their individual circumstances.
For suffragettes like Mary Blathwayt – daughter of a prominent South Gloucestershire family, active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, and dedicated diarist – speaking at a rally in Bristol in 1909 brought particular dangers: Continue reading →
I am a volunteer with an interest in World War 1, but when I was shown a collection of records relating to military tribunals in late 2014, my first impression was that there was little of interest to sort through or transcribe. Continue reading →
Maynard Colchester Wemyss of Westbury Court was a man of many titles including Head Verderer of the Forest of Dean, Justice of the Peace, Guardian of the Poor, Chairman of Stroud Brewery Company, Chairman of Gloucestershire County Council, and Chairman of the Gloucestershire War Agricultural Committee. His roles during World War 1, as chronicled in the letters he wrote to the King of Siam, build a unique picture of Gloucestershire at a time of war. Continue reading →
The Scene: A heaving unsettled sea, and away over to the western horizon an angry yellow sun is setting clearly below a forbidding bank of the blackest of wind charged clouds.
Extract from Whispers From The Fleet by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, KCVO, CB. 1908
The above words almost describe the prelude to the Battle of Coronel, a naval battle fought between British and German forces on 1st November 1914 off the coast of Chile. This has a link to a previous blog – about HMS Gloucester and her involvement in the pursuit of the German warships Goeben and Breslau. Although these incidents may appear unrelated, they are not, for the first actually had a direct bearing on the latter.
Britain’s decision to declare war against Germany in August 1914 would have an impact on every aspect of life in Gloucestershire, including its iconic sports.
In 1914 W G Grace was 64 years old and in July he played his last game of cricket, scoring 69 not out for Eltham. A month later he sent a letter to the Sportsman suggesting that the county cricket season should be closed: “it is not fitting at a time like this that able-bodied men should be playing day after day, and pleasure-seekers look on…I should like to see all first-class cricketers of suitable age set a good example, and come to the aid of their country in its hour of need.” The letter was published on 27 August, and had its desired effect.
At Gloucestershire Archives we have millions of documents concerning our county’s heritage but one of our most curious possessions is not a document but a wooden door hung on a wall!
We inherited this when we moved into our present building, the old Kingsholm Council School and what makes it special is that it comes from HMS Gloucester – a Town class light cruiser built in 1909 and the eighth warship to bear the name of our city.
As we reach the 100th anniversary of Britain’s involvement in WW1, it is interesting to reflect that this door was involved in one of the first naval actions of that war, the chase of the German cruisers SMS¹ Goeben and SMS Breslau, which were then at large in the Mediterranean.