Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

We all map together

Using Old Maps to Bring Together the Residents of Kingsholm, Gloucester

On Tuesday 5 September, 2017, as part of the Gloucester History Festival, Kim Kenny (For the Record Project Officer), and Sally Middleton (Community Heritage Development Officer), held a drop-in event for locals at Roots Community Café, in Alvin Street. We had over 40 attendees!

We used Victorian and inter-war maps of the neighbourhood to illustrate how Kingsholm has changed over the last century and a half. The maps helped participants to pinpoint landmarks that they wanted to see included in a mural of the area, to be painted on a boundary wall at the Heritage Hub, by artist Imogen Harvey-Lewis. Lots of suggestions were made to Imogen who was present at the event, and who spent time chatting to people young and old.

Participants delighted in spotting their houses on the maps, and finding the location of the (now demolished) Vinegar Works, Iron Foundry, various plant nurseries and orchards, the Workhouse, the Horton Road Lunatic Asylum, and the City Sanitary Laundry.

One older man told us how his grandmother had worked at the Vinegar Works (now the site of Gloucester Rugby), and how he had accompanied her once upon a time on a works outing to the seaside when he was a toddler.

The OS maps were supplemented by Know Your Place maps, digitally overlaid one on top of the other on a laptop, clearly showing what existed in Kingsholm prior to the late Victorian building boom of owner-occupied residential red-brick terraces. Why not take a look yourself at ?

There was a real buzz at this busy event, with neighbour chatting to neighbour, new introductions made and groups of people reminiscing about where they live. The maps helped bring a small part of the community together for a couple of hours, and its legacy will be the new painted mural at the Heritage Hub.


Visit Know Your Place -

A Call for Volunteers

Help road test our self-service registration and document ordering!

You may remember we reported in our Summer 2017 newsletter that Gloucestershire Archives were successful in their bid to the Local Government Association (LGA) channel shift programme – we received £15,000.

This money has been used to streamline two key search room procedures: customer registration and document ordering. The aim is to enable our customers to register and order documents on-line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at their leisure, moving away from the awkward double entry system we have at present.

The project is nearing completion and we want to hear from anyone who would like to test the new software and provide feedback about its usability before the new services go live. Not only will you be helping us to improve our customer experience you will also be part of our user engagement evaluation. 

For more information about the project or for those of you who are interested in volunteering please forward your details and /or questions to Rosalind Farr at

To whet your appetite an introductory YouTube video is available here




Festival Fizz

There was a real buzz in Gloucester during the first two weeks in September whilst this year’s annual History Festival was underway. The programme offered something for everyone, ranging from talks by prominent speakers to hands on family fun. It also gave people the chance to visit many of the city’s magnificent heritage locations.  And Gloucestershire Heritage Hub played a key role in making it all happen. 

Speakers, Janina Ramirez, Tony Robinson, Dan Snow, Anita Rani, David Olusoga, Alison Weir, Roy Hattersley and Ken Clarke drew the crowds to Blackfriars Priory, a stunning example of medieval architecture. The Hub’s varied offer brought folks to stunning locations too:

  • Family and oral history workshops in the Chapter House at Gloucester Cathedral;
  • An audience with Polish veterans and talks by the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives at St Mary de Lode Church;
  • Friend of Gloucestershire Archives and Archives’ research room buddy, Liz Jack introducing her ancestor, Button Gwinnett and his links to the American Declaration of Independence at Down Hatherley Church; and
  • A range of events in the 13th century scriptorium and buttery at Blackfriars Priory.


Julie Courtenay, Collections Leader, explains Know Your Place to the festival audience.

Our events at Blackfriars included a workshop on reading old handwriting and a five-hour ‘Scriptorium Tag’. It was a real privilege to read old script in a medieval library where friars would have created and read similar documents.  We used torches rather than candles and I’ve made a note to self: wear thicker, monastic-style garments next time!

Time whizzed by in the Tag lecture, which saw ten Victoria County History colleagues and friends galloping through Gloucestershire’s history, from Anglo-Saxon place-names to the 20th century railways cut in Dr Beeching’s time.  I wonder if we set a record?  Certainly, the event was an unexpected evening out for a local car park user who popped in at 5.30pm to see what was going on.  He stayed on, hooked, until the event finished – five lectures and two and a half hours later. 

New to this year’s Festival was the ‘Family Day’, run by members of Gloucester Heritage Forum: Gloucester Cathedral; Llanthony Secunda Priory; Gloucester Museums; St Mary De Crypt; Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Gloucestershire Archives, representing the Hub. This was the Forum’s first go at a collaborative visitor engagement event and activities included hands-on activities exploring Gloucestershire Police history, creating charters with quill pens and discovering the gruesome methods of medieval barber surgeons.


Creating charters with quill pens                                               Exploring Gloucestershire Police History                     The Shadow of St. Nicholas

Thank you to everyone who contributed to and attended events. We are already planning next year’s History Festival so please save the dates – 1 – 16 September 2018 – if you want to be part of the action.  If you’d like to organise or suggest an event please contact  or

Shades of blue and green

Making the right interior design choices for a public building takes time. We need to create an environment that works for everyone and are grateful to have expert volunteer, Cherry Knott advising us.  After much deliberation we’ve settled on a proposed colour palette that reflects the Gloucestershire flag: shades of blues and greens for walls and floors, and a contrasting light taupe for door surrounds.  We want to introduce a bit of fun too so are thinking of using the colours in the Heritage Hub logo (featured at the top of this article) to jazz up the building’s industrial-looking pillars.  We’d also like to mount some giant floor-to-ceiling images depicting Gloucestershire landscapes.  The next step is for our architects to load these choices and ideas into their whizzy software and take the project’s Stakeholders Advisory Board members on a virtual tour to see how everything would look.  We’ll let you know how this goes. 


We also have five artists working on Arts Council England-funded installations for the onsite Hub: Stroud-based illustrator, Imogen Harvey Lewis is creating a donor tree for the new reception area and an external mural celebrating Gloucester through the ages; Cheltenham-based wood sculptor, Natasha Houseago is crafting a powerful vertical sculpture for the garden; artists from Berkeley-based TomatoJack Arts are fashioning 4 mosaic panels celebrating Gloucestershire’s history, also to be displayed in the garden area; and Midlands-based textile artist Julia O’Connell is producing ‘Inspired by Gloucestershire’ wall hangings for the new volunteer workshop area.  The artists will be working with a diverse range of community groups to develop their respective installations and the finished works will be part of a suite of interpretive displays that celebrate our historic county. 


Natasha Houseago at                          Julia O'Connell visiting                            Imogen Harvey-Lewis                    TomatoJack encouraged residents

The Secret Garden                               the new volunteer                                   presenting ideas to staff                 at Canonbury Care Home to

Community Hub.                                   workshop area.                                       and friends.                                    share memories as they                       

                                                                                                                                                                                     made a wall plaque.

Masterminding a building project

There’s also an awful lot involved in masterminding the building project. From the hundreds of decisions associated with the electrical specification to securing the right supplies and contractors for specialist construction work, there’s so much to consider.  And, as we’ve discovered, a single hiccup in the supply chain can bring things to a grinding halt.  This was the case when our builders tried to procure insulation for the three new strongrooms they’re erecting.  The insulation needs to be a particular type to meet the Archives Accreditation standard and because of a factory fire we ended up waiting a long time for it.  Thankfully we’ve managed to secure what we need, works have recommenced and we now have dates for moving in: mid December for the soft launch of the main Hub building housing the new Archives’ research room, Family History Centre and Gloucestershire Police Archive room, and May 2018 the soft launch of the new Frith Training Room.  We’ll be posting customer information about this on the Archives’ website at


The new strongrooms

Finally there’s the virtual Heritage Hub: an interactive website and social networking platforms (blogs, Facebook and Twitter). Digital Archivist, Claire Collins is leading a team of stakeholders to develop this, ably supported by the County Council’s Digital Project Officer, John Porter.  We’re currently developing the pilot website, due to launch later this year, and Archives staff are testing the water with social media, having launched a ‘Know Your Place’ Facebook page  over the summer.  We are also making good progress with a Local Government Association-funded project to introduce online registration for Archives users and a fully automated online document ordering system.  All very 21st century for a history-focussed set up.

Exciting times!

Staffing news


In the last six weeks we said farewell to two long-standing members of staff.

At the end of September, Jill Shonk, Access and Learning Leader, left after 11 years to take up the role of Head of Cultural and Trading Services at Gloucester City Council. We’d like to extend a major thank you to Jill for her significant contribution to the development of Gloucestershire Archives and the Heritage hub over the last 11 years.

Julie Reynolds, formerly based at Gloucestershire Archives, has left after 10 years to take up the role of Curator for Gloucestershire and Bristol for the National Trust.  She did a brilliant job as Museums Development Officer for Gloucestershire and the wider region and will be much missed by us and our museum colleagues.   Museums development work for the region is now being delivered from Bristol.

We look forward to working in partnership with both Jill and Julie in their new roles.

We will be re-assigning roles within the team and welcoming the following staff to help fill gaps for the next 6-12 months: Rosalind Farr, a former digital preservation trainee; Katie Halil, who will be joining the customer services team on Mondays; and Abigail Hartley, a newly qualified archivist.

We welcome back Ally McConnell as Community Cataloguing Archivist (former graduate trainee who has recently been working as an archivist at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre).  Ally’s 3 year post is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from spring 2018 she will be working with a team of volunteers on the Dowty cataloguing project.



Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life