Shrub Hub update
Work began (in thought, anyway) on the garden last summer when we decided to see if we could make our current outdoor space into a wildlife-friendly, educational, safe haven for visitors, residents and of course the local wildlife – including provision for two beehives taking residence at one end of the garden. The Cotswold Gardening School were approached to see if their students would be able to create designs for the garden as part of their projects, and we came up with some ideas on how to raise money for the garden and attract as many visitors as possible. By the end of last year we had eight designs to choose from: the one we chose was one that suited our brief best and since then we have been working closely with the designer to make the plan fit completely with what we had in mind.
We started fundraising, using online crowdfunding and other sources to raise money for the garden. Young Gloucestershire’s Princes Trust team spent a couple of weeks with us in May. They planted wildflower seeds and also renovated our picnic tables and some “heritage pillars” from a demolished outbuilding (we hope to use these as part of a volunteers’ shelter). Eventually everything started to take shape. The flower and herb borders for the formal area of the garden (nearest the new Dunrossil Centre) were marked out and then dug over in the space of a few weeks by some tireless volunteers, both from within our own staff and local people who wanted to help – this all took place during our heatwave so was hot and tiring work.
The plants arrived in the morning of the 30th July just as it started pouring with rain! However, our team of volunteers from the Cotswold Gardening School and the local area – and a member of staff – donned their raincoats and set to work planting out all the flowers, herbs and shrubs. Within a day, our formal area had been transformed from a large expanse of grass to a beautifully presented garden with a variety of wildlife-friendly, colourful and wonderfully scented plants.
One of the borders the day after planting and the volunteers at the end of planting day.
The next step was to make sure all the plants could establish themselves and grow by watering them daily. This was done on a rota system for about six weeks until the weather helped enough that they didn’t need to be watered. Again, it was achieved partly with volunteers from within the staff in their own time and partly with outside help.
We had a bit of a surprise on the weekend of the 10th/11th August, when our first colony of bees arrived in the garden rather sooner than intended. Unfortunately they were having some problems at the apiary they were being kept in (they were being bullied by another colony!), so rather than bring them home in October or March as intended, suddenly the Bee Team had to transport them quickly on the evening of 10th August.
Sadly, this initial problem and the move made them weak and within a month our first colony had been lost – they just couldn’t defend themselves against the new threat which this time came from hungry wasps. We aren’t too disheartened – in the spring we hope to start raising two new colonies in the garden.
Sunday 8th September saw our garden party, where the garden was taken over by an interactive performance and generally enjoyed by visitors. It was a great chance to show what we have done and further plans for the garden.
On 13th September, about 20 staff from Gloucester City Homes came and did some work in the garden for their Community Impact Day. During this day they planted some further borders in the “wild” area of the garden, built and filled two huge raised beds for community planting, and built a fence and gate to screen the bees off. They did a fantastic job and we are so grateful to them and their expertise.
At the end of September, plants at the front of the Heritage Hub (near the new entrance) were purchased and planted, again by volunteers. This was generously funded by the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives and this front border now looks amazing. This area will be added to using plants from staff and volunteers, including (hopefully!) a cutting from the hydrangea saved from outside the old Gloucestershire Family History office when their building was demolished last year.
So – what’s next for the garden?
At the time of writing, we still have a few things to do in the garden. We are going to dig a pond which will be an attractive addition to the space for different forms of wildlife. We are also going to put some hoggin in some of it to make it more wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
It’s been a great project that is still definitely work in progress. Further updates to follow!
The Heritage Hub Garden Party
The sun was shining, the flowers looked beautiful, and there was music, dancing and cake. What more could we ask for? Staff ran tours of the new Heritage Hub and strong rooms, there were talks, displays in various parts of the building including in the garden, a Civil War Surgeon and a performance about camping.
The weather was gorgeous with the sun shining all day long. Everyone enjoyed the garden which looked wonderful.
There was singing and dancing.
John Putley, the Archives’ resident Civil War Surgeon, offering his surgery skills and showing off his wares.
There were talks, displays and lots of mingling and meeting old friends.
A performance by The Velcro Collective (photos by Jack Offord)
And our final event of the day was a hats off to Beards for completing the build. Thank you Beards.
In the Spring of this year, we submitted a case study to ARA (the Archives & Records Association), on how we have grown the number of people volunteering for us, and the ways in which we recruit and support them, and how we see this as part of our community outreach and development plan. We’re delighted to report that our case study has won the ARA’s nationwide Volunteering Award 2019. Officials from Scotland and Ireland are travelling to Gloucester to present the award and join in the celebrations.
At any one time, we have between 160 to 190 volunteers; this figure contracts and expands as we take on new volunteers and existing volunteers move into full time work or education, volunteer elsewhere or simply move away. This is very clearly an award for everyone of our volunteers, past and present so thank you very much to you all.
We actively recruit volunteers for specific roles and projects, and use social media to do this – through information on our web pages, through the “Engage in Gloucester” web portal, and through Twitter and Facebook campaigns. We are keen to increase participation by those from groups who may not traditionally come forward; younger adults, people from minority ethnic communities, people unemployed or homeless and those with long-term conditions, including mental health issues and physical and learning disabilities. This is nothing new, and other museums, libraries and archives services also target these groups; we now have lots of national data and qualitative evidence that volunteering helps people feel better about themselves. This evidence shone through in the results of our 2019 Volunteer Survey (for highlights, please go to the volunteering page at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives).
ARA will be presenting the Volunteering Award on Friday 15th November, between 2.30pm – 4.30pm, at Llanthony Secunda Priory. There will be tea and cake, and a tour of the priory site. We have decided to close the Heritage Hub that afternoon, so that all staff and volunteers can be present. We’re keen that all our volunteers join the celebrations if you wish to do so.
Please be aware that car parking is very limited at Llanthony Secunda Priory so, if you plan on joining us, please feel free to park at the Heritage Hub and either walk from there, or get a lift with others.
If you intend coming along to the event, please do let me know by 1 November 2019 at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gloucester History Festival
'Absolutely outstanding. The City of Gloucester is re-inventing itself. The History Festival is one of the leading components!'
Organised by Gloucester History Trust this year’s Festival had the theme of Power and the People. Events including talks, walks, workshops, exhibitions, performances and documentaries took place across the city including at Blackfriars Priory, the Heritage Hub, in churches, Eastgate Shopping Centre, in the museums, the Cathedral, the Guildhall, pubs, schools and many more venues.
Well known speakers including Alice Roberts, Max Hastings, Lucy Worsley, David Olusoga, Kate Adie, Martin Bell, Cerys Matthews and many more came to Blackfriars Priory and talked about subjects as far ranging as Vesuvius, our ancient ancestors in Gloucestershire, the death of Anne Boleyn and the election of Margaret Thatcher.
'This was a brilliant funny and engaging talk, full of information and fun. I loved every second of it. Thank you'
On Gloucester day the Mock Mayor of Barton was installed, the Veterans and Gloucester Old Spot pig parade made its way through the streets and the Thanksgiving Service took place in the fabulously restored St Mary de Crypt Church.
There were over 60 City Voices events across the city, with 15 events taking place at Gloucestershire Archives including the Heritage Hub Garden Party. There were talks ranging from the history of Gloucester Rugby, Dowty, Celebrating a 180 years of Gloucestershire Constabulary to Early Car and Motorcycle Ownership in Gloucestershire, William Sheppard, Laurie Lee - the lost recordings and much more.
Exhibitions, documentaries and performances - including an in depth look into the lives of first generation NHS workers from the Caribbean, the Moon Exhibition, portraits from the Gloucestershire Hindu Community, a re-telling of the Dick Whittington story by participants from Gloucester and Wolverhampton and an immersive theatre experience using Archive material to inspire a contemporary look at the stories of mental health through the ages.
'Best thing in Gloucester for years. Brilliant festival.'
Save the date - Gloucester History Festival 2020 takes place form Saturday 5th to Sunday 20th September
For more information visit gloucesterhistoryfestival.co.uk/
Christmas and New Year opening times
Will be closing at 5pm on Tuesday 24th December 2019
Reopening at 9am on Thursday 2nd January 2020
Gloucestershire Family History Society
Will be closing at 4pm on Friday 20th December 2019
Reopening at 10am on Monday 6th January 2020
Don’t forget we are open
Saturday 4th January 2020
User consultation survey
Now the Heritage Hub is largely complete we are keen to find out whether it meets your expectations. We would also like to hear ideas for further improvements that can be made within existing resources. Your comments will also be incorporated into our evaluation for the National Lottery Heritage Fund who kindly funded many of the enhancements. You can either fill out the form on-site when you visit or on-line wherever you are.
Please complete the survey by Sunday 3rd November. Thank you in anticipation.