Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

The Boys at no. 18

Earlier this year, Gloucestershire Archives commissioned a short film about the former Kindertransport hostel at 18 Alexandra Road, Gloucester, to mark the hostel gaining “blue plaque” status in June.

The Boys at no. 18 features descendants of some of the 10 Jewish boys for whom the hostel became home, and was premiered to an audience of over 70 people during the Gloucester History Festival. 


It was accompanied by a mini film from our Why Archives series, in which Senior Archivist Karen Davidson reflects on the importance and on- going impact of the so-called “Kindertransport archive” held in our collections.  This is shorthand for 3 boxes of material generated by the Gloucester Association for Aiding Refugees, which in 1939 led local efforts to establish the hostel.  

An online exhibition of key items from this modestly sized collection caught the eye of New Yorker Michael Zorek, son of hostel boy Werner, and so started a chain of events which has led, almost 20 years later, to a blue plaque being unveiled and a film seen by some 70 people and rising.


 Michael Zorek and Jennifer Zorek-Pressman, son and daughter of Werner Zorek, standing alongside the blue plaque unveiled on 20 June 2022

You can see the film The Boys at no 18 here and Karen’s Why Archive piece here

The online exhibition is on our website here

Gloucestershire Archives will be having a “thank you” tea party for our volunteers in December, and we will be showing both films again then.

The British Way of Spice

Exploring the UK’s changing eating habits and growth of new cuisines.

I can still remember my mum’s first attempt at a chilli con carne – I must have been about 11 or 12 years old, so this would be in the early 1970s. Chilli powder was definitely new in our household and mum measured it in tablespoons instead of teaspoons – so we couldn’t actually eat the results. It put us all off for years.

British people have long had a reputation for extreme conservatism and caution when it comes to food, and certainly when I was growing up in the 1970s, our diet could best be described as ‘bland’. Shepherd’s pie, fish fingers – that type of thing. What people today might shudderingly call ‘beige food’. My dad worked for Bird’s, so we had a lot of Angel Delight as well.


We did have home-made mince pies and Christmas cake and I’m pretty sure mum had a little cannister of mixed spice for this purpose, which lasted for many, many years. I recently started looking for references to spices here in Gloucestershire Archives – and I must admit I was amazed to see several references to cinnamon, cumin and ginger being used to pay rent in Mediaeval times. The earliest record I found was this one from 1225:

William de Pudiford to Phillip Bonseriaunt.
Bargain and sale of ground on which his granary stood in the village of Fromtun. Rent- 1 root of ginger at Christmas, consideration 7 shillings.
Witnesses: Henry de Clifford, Walter de Salle, Hel de Cantle, Reginald de Wudhend, Ruard de Hereford.



But there may well be even earlier examples.

I suppose I knew a (very) little bit about the Spice Routes, but I’d never really thought about spices being traded and valued in this way quite so far back in time. And not just in London, but here in Gloucestershire too.

People back then (those who could afford them, of course), must have loved the warmth and complexity which spices bring as much as we do today. I’ve read that some uses were medicinal and some for the preservation of food – or at least to hide the taste if it wasn’t too fresh – but even so there’s plenty of evidence for culinary use.

Spicy food is now of course available to everyone, and there can’t be too many modern households which have never had an Indian or a Chinese takeaway. Spices were effectively democratised around the 1960s – and our appetite for them grew so fast that Chicken Tikka Masala (spiced, if not actually spicy) was named as one of our favourite national dishes in 2001.

YouGov survey results showing the UK’s favourite takeaways

Most towns now boast a wide array of food outlets, and my hometown of Newent is certainly no exception: with a population of around 10,000 people we have 2 Chinese takeaways, 2 Indian takeaways and a kebab shop, in addition to our original ‘Tudor’ (ahem) Fish and Chip shop. Not to mention the pizzas, Japanese and Mexican foods which can be delivered to anyone within minutes.

It’s odd to think that even though spices were bought and traded here for hundreds of years, new arrivals to the UK from Asian and African countries and from the Caribbean in the 50s 60s and 70s often struggled to source the familiar flavours they loved. They began to open shops, originally to serve their own communities. Then restaurants and takeaways, which we cautious, conservative types gradually started to frequent and then quickly to love. Perhaps this is fanciful, but I like to think that love of spice was always lying dormant, just waiting to be reawakened.

The first Indian Supermarket in Gloucestershire is probably Motala and Sons in Victoria Street – founded in 1966 and still going strong over 50 years later. You can find it here on a specially commissioned interactive map from the 2020 Gloucester History Festival.


Take away menus

People are sometimes surprised to find that we keep fliers and menus from restaurants and takeaways in our Local Studies collections, but they are a wonderful indicator of new communities arriving and, by offering exciting and unfamiliar food, broadening people’s food horizons.

I haven’t been able to find the date or name of the first Indian and Chinese restaurants in Gloucestershire – but I’d love to know…Anybody?

Kate O’Keefe, Community Heritage Officer at Gloucestershire Archives


To read all the Blogs visit Gloucestershire Archives  (

Dog dribble, Spaghetti Bolognese and a council minute book: pure beauty?

Isn’t it funny how some people find certain things attractive, yet to somebody else, the exact same thing doesn’t do anything for them. Beauty, as the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder.

For example, some people would look at a growling, floppy-jowled, saliva-dripping bulldog flashing fangs as sharp as razorblades and would think it’s as cute as a new-born kitten.

But there are some people who would run away extremely fast because they believe they’ve just come across an evil beast from the deepest pit of doom.

I shall let you guess which category I fall into, but here’s a clue: I’m not a fan of dog dribble.

It’s the same with virtually anything – art, movies, sport, food. You name anything and someone will like it just as passionately as the next person dislikes it.

Spaghetti Bolognese for example. Some people’s eyes pop out of their heads with glee when they see it on a menu in a café or restaurant, whilst others cannot stand the awkwardly stringy, overly floppy, sauce-flinging laces of pasta that will just not stay on the blasted fork, spoon, chopsticks, fingers or whatever implement is chosen, without permanently staining everything within a half mile radius with the sauce of shame.

I shall let you guess which category I fall into, but here’s a clue: if you see a spag bol in front of me, it would be wise to give me half a mile of clearance.

There is one particular thing that I find rather good to look at that not many other people do though (although I’ve never really asked, so maybe people do?) and it’s this: a page of text.

Not just any text though, but specifically a double-page spread from a book that has been classically typeset with quality and care.

That may seem a very odd thing to find attractive, but I should mention that many hundreds of years ago when I left school and went to college, I was taught how to design and typeset a range of things, with books being one of them. And it’s amazing how many books I’ve seen since then that don’t correspond to those same classical standards.

This, to be fair, is mainly down to the various publishers wanting to maximise their profit margins by printing as many words on a page as possible without it looking a mess or unreadable. And in a way, it saves paper, so that can only be a good thing.

So when one does spot a rare book that has been well typeset, it’s a thing of beauty.

A good example of this is a highly unusual – but lovely nonetheless – council minute book from Stroud Urban Council that I came across in the archives the other day. 

[Doc ref: DA16/100/21, Minutes of Urban District Council, 1943-1948]

(I do realise I’ve used the words “lovely” and “council minute book” in the same sentence there. This may be a first for humanity, but bear with me.)

The most striking thing about it is the generous, almost obscene, amount of white space being used as margins on each page. Just by looking at it I can hear the distant voice of my ex-tutor enthusiastically spouting one of his regular tips: “Never underestimate the power of white space” in a design.

It’s an extreme form of the large-margin theory, which is why I spotted it, but I still think it’s marvellous.

For me, it doesn’t matter what the words actually say, it’s the fact that there are clear, crisp, well-defined boxes of text, properly and (in this case) harshly justified with only a smattering of line-splitting hyphenations on such a narrow column of text.

Add in those outrageous margins that act as a natural picture frame (presumably for plenty of note taking and amendments), a dose of precisely calculated symmetry and it looks like a work of art, complete with signature.

I find, as with most artworks and paintings, the trick to appreciating these pages is to look at them from a distance so you can’t read the text. Only then will the eye gloss over what the page is trying to tell you and instead hone in on the aesthetic beauty of the design.

But out of interest and for fans of information, the pages in the photo above shows that the groundworks of the housing estates around Foxmoor Lane in Stroud were prepared in 1945 by prisoners of war.

Some people might look at a painting by Picasso and feel as if they should hang it on a wall to admire it. Whereas some other people would prefer to frame and hang on their wall a double-page spread of classically typeset text instead.

Some might even get greater enjoyment out of that than anything by a Spanish cubist artist, even if it was a painting of a dribbly dog eating Spaghetti Bolognese.

I shall let you guess which category I fall into, but here’s a clue: I’ve just written a blog piece about the beauty of printed text.

Anthony Phillips, Archives Assistant

To read all the Blogs visit Gloucestershire Archives (

Cotswold Life

Each month the team at Gloucestershire Archives delve into our diverse collections and put together a piece that appears in Cotswold Life magazine. Articles often include - Photograph of the Month, Spotlight on Maps, Documents of the Month and Gloucestershire Character. 

This Photograph of the Month  article was written by John Putley and appeared in the April 2022 issue.  


Gloucestershire Archives GPS609/13

This photograph was taken around 1910 on the Stroudwater Canal near Stonehouse Court (out of shot to the right) close to the Midland Railway bridge.  The barge, which is unladen but probably a coal carrier judging by the wheelbarrows on the top, was based at Gloucester and belongs to George Bratston, who is possibly the man at the helm.  It is being hauled (no doubt by a horse) from the towpath and is heading down towards Saul Junction, having just passed Ocean Bridge.  Classic ‘roses and castles’ decoration can just be seen on the stern, cabin and cabin doors.   A southbound mixed goods train of covered vans, coal wagons and stone wagons is passing slowly by the white-walled lineside hut.  The purpose of the large building on the right is a mystery.  It is covering a small dock on the canal and may have been used by a boatbuilder, although there is access to the railway line, so it might have had a railway connection.  To the right of this are some pollarded willow trees and on the water, a big patch of water lilies are visible, suggesting that the north side of the basin is little used. 

Taking pride in Local History

The Heritage Schools Event

The Heritage Hub was delighted to welcome representatives from fourteen schools as well as several local heritage sites on Friday 30 September. No mean feat for a training day during term time! The training day, led by Michael Gorely of Historic England and Jacqui Grange of Voices Gloucester, was supported by Gloucestershire Archives and other members of the Gloucester Heritage Forum.


The day aimed to help teachers localise their History Curriculum, as well as enable them to understand how to attain Heritage Schools status (if they wished). Heritage Schools status is an officially recognised threshold, meaning that the school has developed an understanding of their local heritage and its significance. However, the training could be done for its own sake too.

At a time when coaches are the largest expense when it comes to out-of-classroom experiences, the training aimed to enthuse teachers to explore their immediate vicinity on foot. Armed with maps, trade directories, censuses and newspapers, not to mention the naked eye, the training encouraged teachers to seek out what is special about the local area. This in turn would give children a sense of pride in where they live and encourage communities to be more involved in the life of the school.

The day included a presentation by Michael, packed full of helpful hints on how to place the pupils at the centre of the enquiry. Voices Gloucester gave a helpful talk with some great videos and Gloucestershire Archives gave a tour and opportunity to view some of the collections. The teachers were given a period of time to discuss their plans, a useful networking event which led to teachers swapping contact details and planning joint initiatives. Teachers were then able to meet representatives from some of the local heritage sites and make important connections with those who could help with future endeavours. This also enabled Heritage providers to gain a greater awareness of the needs of local schools.


We would like to thank everyone involved for their part in this hugely successful day and we hope to repeat it in the future.

'Thank you for a very inspiring day' - Teacher comment

Jemma Fowkes, Community and Heritage Officer, Gloucestershire Archives, 10 October 2022


Hands on History: Preserving family photographs

On 8 September as part of the Voices Gloucester programme we ran a free practical workshop on Preserving Family Photographs (and other photo collections).  We had a fabulous day meeting everyone and discussing their fascinating collections and their preservation requirements, each one special, each one unique. 

People had family collections with photos from the mid 1840’s through to the late 20th century, local history collections, museum collections and precious originals being kept for children and grandchildren. Photographs that have meant a lot to other people, that have brought back memories and helped communication with family members that have Alzheimer’s. 

And real treasures offering the opportunity of future discovery and connection to people, places and past times – almost magical. In some cases, literally life transforming, inspiring research and study, providing creative inspiration, sparking the desire to visit people and places – beginning life changing journeys, or unlocking the memories of a community or a loved one - who knows what might come from a photograph!


We had some great feedback, people found it a “very informative day”; “especially enjoyed seeing the ancient photos and a Daguerreotype brought in by a participant”. 

What people enjoyed most was “examining materials hands on and the discussion” and learning about “the way the various kinds of ‘old’ photographs were made and the advances in different chemicals used”, “why damage has happened/how to prevent further damage”, “how to care for and protect collections” and about “the storage of photos and looking at different materials to do this with”.

We would like to run it again and if you are interested, please let us know – the sooner we have a list of people who want to come, the sooner we can do it!

If you are interested, please email Ann Attwood 


A Challenge!

Whitlock - Gloucester artist from 1960s

Amy Freeman, a local artist, is doing a community project based on a recently rediscovered sheet of wrapping paper. Amy asked Archives if we could help her track down the artist.

The wrapping paper used to be sold at Debenhams and featured the buildings of Gloucester.


Archivist, Karen Davidson was able to solve the mystery – A E Whitlock was the advertising manager for the Bon Marche for six months in 1967. We hold a copy of the wrapping paper ourselves – D10754/1


Shirley Williams, a former colleague at Gloucestershire Archives until she retired found the wrapping paper when she was clearing out and tidying up ready to move to Pembrokeshire in 2006. At the time we thought it might be the only one still in existence, but evidently not.


Cuttings from the Citizen and Journal in December 1967, newspaper cuttings vol 22 pages 121 and 132.

The City's critic mentioned in the title was Lord Eustan, Chair of the Society for the Protection for Ancient Buildings who said, "Gloucester had been practically destroyed.."


Did you know that between the late 1950s and early 1970s over 100 listed buildings in Gloucester city centre were de-listed and demolished? 

Amy standing in front of her shop window display based on the wrapping paper.  

All change...

Unusually for Gloucestershire Archives, we’ve had a fair bit of change on the staffing front recently.  

Having said farewell to Natasha Young (Bridging the digital gap trainee) and Sally Middleton (Community Heritage Development Manager) earlier in the year, Laura Cassidy (graduate trainee archivist) left in August to take up her place on the postgraduate archives course in Glasgow, followed by Kickstarter trainees Charlotte Tarrant and Sade Scott in September and October. 

Later this month we will say farewell to Archives Assistant Sue Constance who has worked with Gloucestershire’s libraries and archives services since 1988 and is off to pastures new. And in mid-November we say goodbye and good luck to Senior Archivist Ally McConnell in her new role as Principal Archivist at Wiltshire Council.  

We’ve been pleased to welcome Aimee Lewis who is working part-time for archives alongside her library development officer role, Melissa Joice as an archives and library apprentice and Jon Shepherd, an experienced archivist whose laser-like focus on cataloguing is already making an impact on our cataloguing backlog.  

Two more fixed term cataloguing archivist posts are currently being advertised so we hope to be back to full strength again by the New Year. 

Heather Forbes 

Head of Archives Service

Tributes to the monarchy

Archives and Constabulary staff at the Hub have created a PowerPoint presentation celebrating the visits of Princess, later Queen, Elizabeth to Gloucestershire between 1951 and 2004. 


For quicker loading, the presentation is in two parts on Gloucestershire County Council's website, and you can access it via these links:

Part 1 - Presentation of Her Majesty The Queen (PPSX, 70 MB)  (PPSX, 70 MB) (PPSX, 70 MB) 

Part 2 - Presentation of Her Majesty The Queen (PPSX, 84.3 MB)  (PPSX, 84.3 MB) (PPSX, 84.3 MB) 

We have also accessioned official condolence books, responses from South Gloucestershire Council and Gloucestershire County Council, and films of the two proclamations of King Charles III in Gloucester so this major constitutional change is documented in the Archives for future generations.

Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life