Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

Cataloguing The Barnwood House Hospital Collection

Barnwood House Hospital was established around the early 1800s and operated as a private mental asylum until its closure in 1968. The impact of the hospital on the community of the City of Gloucester and indeed its national reputation over many years at the forefront of the treatment of mental illness cannot be underestimated. The ethos of the hospital can be demonstrated by the hospital’s rule book stating that “Because they are insane, the patients are not to be treated with less respect than they would be entitled to if they were of sound mind and at liberty” and “They are not the less ladies and gentlemen because they are unsound in mind”. 


D3725/1/167/4: Photograph of Barnwood House and grounds, including a few staff and patients [late 19th century].

Every effort was made to surround the patients with an environment that would be conducive to their recovery from their illness. This was to be achieved by having a welcoming interior, the provision of healthy food from the hospital’s own farm and exercise in the hospital’s pleasant grounds, regular routines, high quality staff, trips to the seaside and as early as 1930 a pioneering occupational therapy department offering classes in handicrafts such as weaving and basket-making given by expert tuition. 

D3725/1/100/1, Minutes of subscribers to the intended general asylum, 1794-1813, 1859.  This is the oldest record in the collection.  The start of the first page reads “At a Meeting of the Subscribers to the intended General Asylum for the reception of Insane persons held at the Infirmary in Gloucester on Thursday the 16th day of January 1794….”.

The hospital gained a reputation for high quality research and training. In 1939 Barnwood House in association with the Burden Neurological Institute became the first hospital to make use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a treatment. Five patients from Barnwood were selected to receive ECT. In 1941, again in conjunction with the Burden Neurological Institute, the hospital first carried out a pre-frontal leucotomy where the white matter of the frontal lobes is surgically cut. None of the first four patients to receive the treatment left hospital after the operation but were described as more manageable and well behaved. After this initial trial an ongoing programme of performing the operation on patients took place, carried out by the neurosurgeon Wylie McKissock. The hospital gained a reputation for high quality training in mental nursing after 1926 even having a separate building solely for this purpose.

To read the full blog written by Jon Shepherd (Community Cataloguing Archivist) click Cataloguing The Barnwood House Hospital Collection | Gloucestershire Archives (

Document of the Month

 Gloucestershire Archives GDR/INV/1732/118

Among the most fascinating documents in our collections are the inventories taken after a person’s death.  Made between 1530 and 1782, these are lists of personal possessions belonging to the deceased (excepting land and property) made to establish the value of their estate.  They typically list personal items, furniture, furnishings and clothing, cash, debts owing or owed, crops, livestock and tools of trade – providing real ‘flesh on the bones’ for historians.  

This is the inventory of John Pierce of Newnham, made in February 1732.  It lists his clothes (‘wearing apparel’), money in his purse, four feather beds and bedsteads, four rugs, three pairs of blankets, twelve pairs of sheets, three tablecloths, one silver tankard, two silver spoons, three gold rings, tables, a chest, his brass & pewter (sadly not itemised), three fire grates and four spits, three pairs of hand-irons, two fire slices (coal shovels), two pairs of tongs and a jack (probably a thick hide glove), a clock, one small boat, two dozen chairs (chains), two bellows and lastly ‘goods forgotten’ and debts due.  All this was estimated to be worth £175 5s – around £20,650 today. 

The background to this particular inventory is that Pierce was the master and owner of the Severn trow New Newnham and drowned along with 18 passengers when she was wrecked at Awre in 1731, a reminder of how dangerous the Severn was (and still is). 

John Putley - Community Heritage Officer

Kingsholm Primary School at The Archives

In the past few months the sound of lively chatter has echoed through the Archives' corridors and strongrooms.

Kingsholm Primary School, no more than 5 minutes walk from the Heritage Hub, visited us to learn more about what we do here and take part in sessions run by staff. 

In January approximately 80 year 1 pupils (all aged 5 - 6 years) visited as part of a design and technology buildings project.

Touring the Heritage Hub, pupils compared the old and new, looked for clues that told them what the building had once been used for and saw how classrooms had been converted into offices and strongrooms. Children went inside a strongroom and were able to see some of the wonderful documents and books housed there.  Finally taking a long trek up to our main storage area (particularly long when your legs are quite short!) to see how photos are stored, returning for a meander through the garden and a close inspection of the artwork.


February and March saw Archives staff run six sessions as part of the school's 'University' module which is aimed at junior children (ages 8 – 11 years).

The University Module introduces subjects the school can’t normally include and aims to raise children's aspirations. As well as a tour of the building (where children were particularly interested in one of the Archives' strangest artefacts – Raikes the Rat) staff ran sessions that included comparing old and new maps, drawing their own map and using street names to inspire creative writing, finding out about how people in the past made ink, using feathers to write with and having a go at calligraphy. Finally the children had a session learning about gargoyles and made their own gargoyles using modelling clay or card.


Local History

The Red Dress

Voices Gloucester brought the award winning, collaborative embroidery project The Red Dress to Gloucester on Tuesday 14 March. Conceived by British artist Kirstie Macleod, the project provided an artistic platform for women around the world, many of whom are vulnerable and live in poverty, to tell their personal stories through embroidery.


The day, held at The Friendship Café, Barton Street, included Kirsty giving a presentation about the Red Dress, pieces of which have travelled the globe being continuously embroidered onto. Constructed out of 84 pieces the garment has been worked on by 343 women, and 7 men, from 46 countries. Over the 13 years the dress has taken to complete it has become a platform for self-expression and an opportunity for voices to be amplified and heard.

The Red Dress has been the inspiration for the ‘A Costume for Gloucester’ project and Voices Gloucester were thrilled with the turnout on the 14th.

‘It was lovely to see so many familiar faces, as well as meet lots of new friends.’ 


People attending were able to chat to Kirsty and see the Red Dress up close and get involved in workshops and information sessions run by the Museum of Gloucester, Gloucestershire Archives and Gloucester Cathedral. The Women’s Institute and Gloucester Scrap Store were also on hand with fabrics, sewing kits and all manner of lovely textile things.

Between now and the middle of July those taking part in the project will be working on their ideas and pieces of cloth ready for each piece to be joined together in time for Gloucester Day on Saturday 2 September.

The Gloucester dress will then be on display in the Lady Chapel, Gloucester Cathedral 16th September - 1st October 

The dress will become part of the Museum collection to help preserve this project for future generations to enjoy.

For more information visit

If you'd like to hear about future Voices Gloucester events, and funding opportunities then please do sign up to our mailing list  and / or follow us on Instagram / Facebook


Woodchester Mansion

Gloucestershire has a unique historical house in Woodchester Mansion. The amazing Neo-gothic masterpiece of the young architect Benjamin Bucknall sits in a steep-sided secluded valley a few miles south of Stroud. The unfinished building is Grade I listed and rated as of architectural significance at an international level.


Why? Because this house – like no other – shows the bare bones of its construction. Walls are unplastered, stone vaulted ceilings incomplete, wooden formwork and original scaffolding poles are still in place, so the visitor can see how Gothic buildings are constructed. You can learn many new things. It is a house built almost entirely of local stone, with high quality craftsmanship. So offsetting the learning, there are wonderful carved animals to look at - a delight for children of all ages.


Why was it never finished? Well, you have to visit to discover the full story. The family fortunes and misfortunes have been traced in Gloucestershire Archives and other counties, and the secrets have been revealed. Work stopped in 1873 and , apart from a small flurry of activity in 1894, the building has essentially been untouched since.

Now cared for by the Woodchester Mansion Trust, the house will never be finished. Work to maintain it in good condition is a never ending task, with a current price tag of some £5m. It is open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 31st March to 5th November this year, 11am to 4pm.  Come and see for yourself!


Please check the website before visiting:

Major Expansion of City’s Landmark Festival

Events year-round announced for Gloucester History Festival

The Gloucester History Festival is expanding in 2023 with new events to create a year-round programme of talks and performances. A season of new talks at the King’s School and the introduction of the first live Spring Weekend at Gloucester’s iconic medieval Blackfriars Priory will complement the hugely successful main Festival held annually in the autumn.

The Gloucester History Festival was launched in September 2011 and in the past 12 years it has gained a national reputation for attracting high-profile speakers.

The new Spring Weekend will feature fifteen events from the country’s top historians including Professor Alice Roberts (presenter of BBC Two’s Digging for Britain) Peter Frankopan (author of The Silk Roads), Greg Jenner (host of the hit podcast You’re Dead To Me) and Martin Sixsmith (former BBC Moscow Correspondent). The three-day programme on 21st – 23rd April features intriguing topics ranging from Tutankhamen to 20th century Prime Ministers and from Alfred the Great to Gloucester’s own archaeological gems.

The new look for the Gloucester History Festival includes:
King’s Talks: New regular events throughout the year at the King’s School
Spring Weekend at Blackfriars: 21st - 23rd April 2023
Main History Festival: 2nd - 17th September 2023
Winstone Talk in Cirencester: 21st October 2023

‘The story of Gloucester really is the story of England with the city’s streets echoing to the footsteps of Roman legionaries, Saxon tribes, a warrior queen, medieval traders and Victorian inventors,’ says Festival President Dr Janina Ramirez. The Oxford historian and TV presenter first appeared at the Festival in 2015 and became its President the following year. ‘I’m thrilled about the growth of the Festival and I’m looking forward to meeting hundreds of history-lovers at the first live Spring Weekend as well inviting more top-class historians to share their personal insights and discoveries.’

Tickets for the Spring Weekend went on sale at 9.00am on Saturday 4th March 2023 and are available online from, by phone on 01452 396131 and in person from the Festival Box Office at the Museum of Gloucester, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1HP.

Daglingworth Polish resettlement camp

Readers might be interested in the story of Daglingworth Polish resettlement camp near Cirencester. Edward and Anna Lender both grew up in the camp and appear in the Daglingworth school registers held at Gloucestershire Archives. Edward has written the story of the camp which has been beautifully illustrated by his wife, Anna, an artist and published online at:

In this painting of the hut, the young Anna is shown together with her mother and stepfather.

 The Granville-Skarbek Anglo-Polish Cultural Exchange celebrates the contribution of the Polish diaspora, one of the largest community groups in the country, to British culture and society. It seeks to inspire, intrigue and surprise by sharing some unexpected stories of Anglo-British interactions. The project is named after Krystyna Skarbek a.k.a. Christine Granville, a Polish-Jewish countess, who became Britain’s first female SEO [Special Operations Executive] agent, and who saved countless lives as the longest-serving operative of WWII. Krystyna also penetrated into mainstream British culture as the inspiration for Bond character Vesper Lynd.

Family History

Unexpected Discoveries

Investigating an individual or family can lead to the most unexpected discoveries.  For many of us in GFHS it doesn’t matter whether or not we’re researching our own family - it is the ‘thrill of the chase’ and the satisfaction of making sense of any information unearthed that we enjoy.

Surprising stories can emerge from the most unlikely of starting points.  Here we have a small letter opener probably made around 1900 to promote T S Hodgson, chemist & photographic dealer, in Waterloo, between Liverpool and Southport.  On the surface, this is a pretty ordinary piece of memorabilia with no hint of anything unusual about Mr Hodgson or his family. 


However once we started to dig a bit, things took an unsuspected turn.  We discovered that Thomas Samuel Hodgson was born in Jamaica.  He appears for the first time in the UK in the 1871 census returns when he and his two brothers are listed as boarders at a school in North Yorkshire.  What a culture shock that must have been! 

Further research revealed that their parents were British-born Methodist missionaries who left England in the 1850s, probably never to return from the West Indies.  They were instrumental in building one of the main chapels in Jamaica.  We’ve found no evidence that Thomas Hodgson or his brothers ever returned to Jamaica either so perhaps this suggests a complete break with their family.  Thomas was apprenticed to a chemist based in Harrogate, then set up his own business around 1890 in Waterloo.  Rather surprisingly his son didn’t work with him.  Instead Thomas sold out to Jesse Boot (Boots the Chemist) around 1910, and he retired to Morecambe with his wife and daughter where he died in 1915.

His only son, Frank, is an even more enigmatic character.  In his mid-teens he worked for Camel Laird in Birkenhead and went to sea as an apprentice engineer.  Around 1908, in his early 20s, he moved to Detroit with his wife and young daughter to work for General Motors.  This was just the start of an eventful life and colourful career, involving divorce, a catastrophic explosion in a WW1 munitions factory and a connection to the early days of Hollywood before he too ended up in Morecambe in the 1920s - but that is another story.

You’ll see that although none of these people have any Gloucestershire connections we’ve been able to unravel their stories using the online sources available in the Family History Research Centre in the Hub run by GFHS volunteers.  Everyone is welcome to visit the Centre and we’ll see what we can help you find.  Just check our website for more information and details of our opening hours 


Alongside the Centre we also offer a programme of online and ‘in person’ talks and events - details of these are also available on our website.  The easiest way to keep up-to-date with the latest information is to subscribe to our regular newsletter and look on Facebook- use the link on our website 


Friends of Gloucestershire Archives

March 2023

Gloucestershire Archives is one of the largest county archives.  It preserves so many documents that they are stored on a staggering nine miles of shelving behind the scenes at the Heritage Hub.

The Friends of Gloucestershire Archives is the only organisation which exists specifically to support the Archives financially and in other ways.

In January 2023 the Friends bought for the Archives a large vellum indenture dated 31 July 1557.  It recorded an agreement between the Earl of Pembroke and Sir Giles Pole by which the Manor of Ruddle (in Newnham) was exchanged for the Manor of Bullridge.  The Crown had granted Ruddle Manor, which belonged to Gloucester Abbey before the Dissolution, to the Earl of Pembroke four years previously.

The Earl was brother-in-law to King Henry VIII through his marriage to Anne Parr, younger sister of Catherine, and was guardian of the young King Edward VI after the death of Henry VIII.  According to John Aubrey, Pembroke could neither read nor write, but ‘had a stamp for his name’.  That seems not to be entirely true as he did write his name at the bottom of this indenture, although in capital letters and spelt ‘PENBROKE’ rather than ‘PEMBROKE’.

As the Earl had his principal residence in Wilton, near Salisbury, Wiltshire Archives also contributed to the purchase price.  The original indenture will remain at Gloucester, but Wiltshire will have a digital copy.

Mystery tour

The Friends will be organising a mystery tour on Sunday 25 June, once again led by Dr John Chandler.  The coach will pick up participants in Cheltenham and Gloucester.  Further details will be available on the Friends’ website in due course:

If you are not already a member of the Friends, you could join now and receive priority booking and a preferential rate for the tour:

Click here to read the latest FoGA newsletter



Stroud Local History Society

Major General, Sir Fabian Ware, KCVE, KBE, CBm CMG.

"A truly great Gloucestershire man". by Maureen Anderson

Teacher, newspaper editor and the founder of the Imperial War Graves Commission, who retired to live in Amberley. It was because of Fabian Ware that the remarkable first World War cemeteries were built – a mission Rudyard Kipling described as "work greater than the Pharaohs".

Thursday April 20th 2023. St Laurence Church Hall, The Shambles, Stroud. Doors open 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. Book now – pay on the day - £4.50 non-members. Please book your place(s) by using the link on the programme page of our website or phone Stroud 759641



Stroud Local History Society talk.

Lydiard Park –near Swindon. SLHS member Rob Burles will tell us about the Palladian House with its Museum, Walled Garden, Parkland, Lake, Icehouse and Church. This little church has medieval wall paintings and extraordinary monuments including two memorials by Stroud sculptor Samuel Baldwin in the 1600s and a golden cavalier.

Thursday May 11th 2023. St Laurence Church Hall, The Shambles, Stroud. Doors open 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. Book now – pay on the day - £4.50 non-members. Please book your place(s) by using the link on the programme page of our website or phone Stroud 759641

Gloucester History Festival Spring Weekend

21 - 23 April 2023


Over twenty of Britain’s top historians gather in the magical setting of Blackfriars Priory, Gloucester for three days of inspiring events. Join Digging for Britain’s Alice Roberts, Horrible Histories’ Greg Jenner, Raiders of the Lost Past’s Janina Ramirez, The Silk Road’s Peter Frankopan, former Moscow Correspondent Martin Sixsmith and Prisoner of Geography’s Tim Marshall for a weekend of entertaining talks and controversial debates.  

Explore Kings & Queens: a fortnight before the Coronation a dozen monarchs feature in the programme. From Alfred the Great to Elizabeth I, Tutankhamen to the Tudors, where better to explore royalty than in Gloucester where Henry III was crowned? Examine the History of Now: tackle the big issues and understand the history behind events happening today. Russia and Ukraine, Politics and Power and Climate Change through the ages are all up for debate.

Download the Spring brochure GHF-SPRING-online.pdf (

Tickets and information: 

Tel: 01452 396131

Open 12 noon - 10pm

Green Day at the Heritage Hub

Voices Gloucester Green Day

Saturday 22nd April 2023 (Earth Day) 1-4pm

Free event with environmentally focused activities for all the family.


Learn about the history of the Severn, and how Gloucester folk engaged with the environment in the past through films, exhibits, talks and creative activities.

Come for the afternoon or just call in for an hour - places are free but booking advised

Voices Gloucester Green Day - Voices Gloucester

Activities include

Amy's Hub of Happiness - Learn how to do visible darning or revive old clothes - learning from the past for a more sustainable future!

Find out about Gloucester's Anglo-Saxon residents and their use of natural remedies and spoken charms with Tir Na Gog Heritage Education. Make a cloth roll of floral and plant remedies pressed and annotated in ancient runes.

Take part in The Wild Escape - Gloucester schools have been working with illustrator Rachel Hathaway to create a vibrant and immersive art space sharing learning about habitats, ecosystems and what we can do to help

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub will also host an exhibition of environmentally themed archives and share a selection of films about the Severn, past and present.


Drop in or stay for the afternoon – this is a free event but please book here to avoid disappointment.


Gloucestershire Archives: Secrets Revealed online talk

‘Treasures from the Archives’

Wednesday 26 April, 1 - 2pm.  Free of charge. Online talk.


Treasures from the Archives will be an eclectic look at some of the staff’s favourite documents, ranging from maps and photographs to deeds and songs…and everything else in between!


There is much that you can look at and hopefully much you can learn.

To book visit Gloucestershire Archives Events


This monthly series of leisurely lunchtime learning sessions is great for those who are new to learning about the past and for those passionate about history, keen to expand their knowledge on a given subject in a focused session.

Led by experts at Gloucestershire Archives, the sessions are easy to digest, laced with humour and full of headline facts and contextual information ready to unlock an the secrets of a time gone by.

Secrets Revealed are live online seminars that bring together a community of people with a shared interest in history, heritage, culture and their importance in today’s world.

We are now doing Secrets Revealed talks via Microsoft Teams rather than Zoom. When you book on to the event you should immediately receive a Teams link. This will also be sent a few days before the event. If you have not heard from us by the day of the event, please email



Sunday 30th April

Bank Holiday Monday 1st May



We are teaming with the STEAMPUNKS of GLOUCESTERSHIRE who are organising a fun celebration of the ancient Celtic feast of Beltane during the May Bank Holiday weekend. Attractions include:

 The School of Larks Circus

 Gloucester Mummers Players

 Maypole Dancing

 The Jovial Crew

 Hobby Horse Dressage

 Tea Duelling

 Stone Carving Lessons with our Master Mason Stephen & his Journeymen

 Steam Tractors

 Tea Pot Racing

 And, of course, the traditional Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling

30 STALLS - Local Crafts and the STEAMPUNK Market

Family Friendly Entertainment & Music throughout

FOOD & DRINK (non-alcoholic)

And FREE Daytime admission to the main part of the Mansion


In the EVENINGS - musical events (fee will be payable)

More details coming soon... watch this space! Mayday 2023 | Woodchester Mansion

Come and join us for a unique day out in the house like no other.


Want to get involved in heritage?

On Saturday 3rd June we are holding our first ever heritage focus day at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub.  This event is aimed at people wanting a career in heritage as well as those interested in a less formal arrangement, for example, volunteering. 

10am - 4pm. All ages and abilities are welcome.

Heritage Hub, Clarence Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester, GL1 3DW

Keynote speaker

Nick Barratt, linked to the BBC Series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?  He will be giving a talk entitled ‘Why heritage matters’.  

This event is an excellent opportunity to see what archivists, conservators, museum curators, librarians, archaeologists and other heritage based professionals do on a day to day basis. Come and chat with us and learn about training paths and roles.  There will also be ‘have a go’ opportunities, demonstrations, films and a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Gloucestershire Archives.

Further information including the schedule for the day will be available here shortly. At that stage, we recommend that you book on for the talks, as space is limited in the Dunrossil Centre. In the meantime, here is a taster of who will be there. 

Who’s coming?

  • Key note speaker: Nick Barratt of BBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' 
  • Gloucestershire Archives
  • Gloucestershire Family History Society 
  • Gloucestershire Libraries
  • Gloucestershire City Museums
  • Stroud Museum in the Park
  • Gloucester Cathedral Archives
  • Canal and River Trust 
  • The National Trust
  • Jet Age Museum
  • Plus freelance experts; experienced heritage volunteers; college and apprenticeship trainers; members of the Archives and Records Association.

Get advice and access to relevant contacts and links. Chat to us, learn about training paths and roles, ‘have a go’ opportunities, demonstrations, films and behind the scenes tour of Gloucestershire Archives. 

For more information, and to book, visit Want to work in heritage? - Heritage hub

Five Valleys Local History Association

Local History Exhibition 15-23 July 2023

Museum in the Park, Stroud, GL5 4AF


All the local history groups in the Five Valleys (and the high ground in between) have been invited to take part in a joint exhibition this summer – come and find out more about your own town or village! Tell us a story!

For more information visit - 

South Gloucestershire

South Gloucestershire news and information


There is plenty of history and heritage to discover in South Gloucestershire.

Museums and heritage sites


For a selection of museums and heritage attractions visit Museums and local history for more information.

To discover the history of South Gloucestershire by walking, cycling or driving visit Heritage walks and trails for more information

South Gloucestershire Museums Group

South West museum development logo 

Is a friendly, knowledgeable team who support museums and heritage organisations in South Gloucestershire to be ambitious, develop resilience, grow and collaborate. 

For more information visit South West Museum Development (

Read the latest newsletter here

Local History Societies in South Gloucestershire

There are lots of history societies in South Gloucestershire.

For more information visit Local history societies in South Gloucestershire | BETA - South Gloucestershire Council (

Thank you and farewell to Jane Marley

We also wish Jane Marley from South Gloucestershire Council a very happy retirement.   In her job as museums and heritage officer, Jane was an active stakeholder whilst we developed the Heritage Hub, a valued participant in South Gloucestershire archives liaison meetings, a trustee of the Gloucestershire County History Trust, and also helped connect us to heritage organisations across South Gloucestershire.  Thank you Jane for all you have done.

 Jane is pictured here at the royal opening of the Heritage Hub (with Jan Broadway from the Gloucestershire County History Trust)


Gloucestershire Police Archives

Gloucestershire Police Archives Spring 2023

We mistakenly believed that the winter would be quiet but since the last newsletter we have been very busy.

We often receive queries based on articles on our website and this quarter was no different.

- Majesty magazine have used photographs from the archives in their March issue

- The Mail online have also approached us to use photographs about Queen Mary in Gloucestershire

- The Historical Association have asked to use some  of our photographs in their lesson plans

We have answered 24 queries so far this year. While this may not sound many, each query can take anything from 10 minutes to several days to research and answer.  Talks and display requests can take a week or longer to prepare.

A few weeks ago we had a visiting Police Officer from Austria who came to the archives with some long serving special constables.

One of the Specials had been serving for 50 years and had some wonderful stories to tell. My favourite one happened in the last few months.  There was a road traffic collision in Stroud which the Special was asked to attend. He was unable to get there as the cars were all in use and he was some distance away. The officer who was to attend the collision was coming from the other direction and so was unable to pick him up so he said he would get there when he could to relieve her but it would take him some time to walk there. The officer dealing with the incident was surprised when the Special turned up within quite a short period of time and asked how he managed it. The reply was “I caught the bus!”

The summer is looking to be busy with 8 events, 3 talks and 2 other ‘things’ planned and we know that there will be more requests for talks and events coming in as people look to their calendars.

If you have any police related photographs we are always happy to receive jpegs via and queries can also be sent to the same email address.


We are usually open  Monday to Wednesday until 2.30 but it is worth checking before you make a visit as we do go out and about quite often.


Sue Webb, Communications and Engagement Department, Gloucestershire Constabulary Archives


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