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.

Local History

Gloucestershire Local History Association

Gloucestershire Local History Association has continued its 2022 programme of Summer activities with two well-attended Sunday afternoon walks, one to find out about water power and transport around Stonehouse, led by Stephen Mills, and the other to explore the history of Bishop’s Cleeve, led by David Aldred.

A highlight of the Stonehouse walk was undoubtedly the new Jubilee Ocean Railway Bridge on the Stroudwater Canal to the west of St Cyr’s church, which has enabled the formerly culverted canal to be reopened to boat traffic and the previous foot tunnel to be replaced by a towpath. Equally impressive was the huge railway viaduct on the Bristol line south of the new bridge, close to the site of Beard’s Mill, where some of the old buildings have been converted to residential properties.


The WW2 pillbox by the canal at Bond’s Mill.                          Visiting Bond’s Mill Estate
Photos by Eileen Allen

The two other mills that were visited, both on the River Frome, are still very much in use. Bond’s Mill, further west along the Canal, provides office space to a variety of businesses and also features, as its gatehouse, a WW2 two-storey pillbox which is now a Cotswold Canals Trust’s visitor centre. At Bridgend, Lower Mills is home to the Stonehouse Paper & Bag Mills Ltd, which celebrated its centenary this year.

We returned to Stonehouse Court Hotel via the late 18th-century Nutshell Bridge, undoubtedly one of the most attractive spots on the entire canal.

The Bishop’s Cleeve walk had a very different theme, in that it focused on what can still be discerned of the village’s medieval layout, and on a number of late medieval/early modern houses – some of cruck construction and thatch – that survive within this fast growing village. We were also given an insight into the village’s prehistory, as revealed by excavations on the sites of new houses and the village’s two supermarkets: learning that under aisle 13 in Tesco’s is the site of a Bronze Age hut was certainly a revelation to us all!

Viewing a thatched cottage at Bishop’s Cleeve. Photo Sally Self

For more information visit 

Art & Why It Is Important – A Personal View

One of the most valuable private UK art collections is the Royal Collection, housed in royal palaces across the UK, and owned by the royal family. Today’s royals continue to buy contemporary art, as well as the old masters, Impressionists, the Dutch Masters, Leonardo da Vinci and Canaletto (the Queen has one of the largest collections of Canaletto paintings in the world). But there is also Art UK, or the government owned art collection, held in trust for the nation, in public art galleries, government buildings and our UK embassies overseas. There is an excellent website at the online home for every public collection in the UK, and a vast database. And, of course, there are extensive archives in UK local authority settings about our national art collection. I have often thought that it would make a perfect subject for a research thesis – the accessioning of art for public buildings, and the stories, and archival documents, behind this story. Art, for example, especially in London, was used as a means of promoting national pride and morale, during WWII.


As well as museums and art galleries, the other place to see art is at auction houses. There are specialist sales, every year, by Sotheby’s, Christies, Bonhams and others, in London and across the world. Prices may start at just a couple of hundred pounds through to tens of millions of pounds.

And, finally, the 9 professional artist’s organisations, which together make up the RBA (Royal Society of British Artists), and based at the Mall Galleries, London, hold annual exhibitions for groups such as the ROI (Royal Institute of Oil Painters). These exhibitions feature the work of members, but also offer an open call out, which means emerging artists can submit their work for inclusion in the annual exhibitions. It is through doing this (and their work being accepted, and shown, for at least 3 consecutive years) that artists may become elected to the ROI, RSMA (Royal Society of Marine Artists) or NEAC (New English Art Club). Election to one of these prestigious art groups is not a guarantee of commercial success, but is a well-respected professional accolade.

Throughout history, some of our most acclaimed artists have, in fact, been self-taught. Their archives – diaries, sketch books, letters – make fascinating reading because they tell a story. These stories, artists’ documented heritage, tell us about an individual’s artistic development, their influences, relationships, any commercial success in their lifetime and the contact they had (if any) with the art establishment. Art history, today, can tell us so much more about the artist and their works, especially forensic art history; if you have ever watched BBC TV’s Fake or Fortune, you will know exactly what I mean!

The most highly valued indication of peer reviewed success, for living artists, is to be elected as an RA (a Royal Academician, or a member of the Royal Academy, in Piccadilly). The number of members is restricted to around 50 or so in any one year, reflecting the best of contemporary British art, sculpture and architecture. You will have heard of many of the current RA members – Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Anthony Gormley, Grayson Perry to name but a few.

What I also find interesting about our 9 national art societies is their archives. The archives for the ROI, for example, are largely held at the V&A, and members of the public and researchers can only consult these records by appointment. They tell a fascinating story of how the ROI came into being in the 1880’s, and what issues were important to the founding members, all of them now artists of international importance. Likewise, the archives of the NEAC (New English Art Club), founded in the 1860’s tell the story of how a group of then prominent British artists challenged what they regarded as the “stuffy” approach of the Royal Academy, and set up their own professional society, independent of the RA, to rail against the strictures of what was then regarded as “good” art, worthy of critical acclaim.  It offered a much more inclusive, some would say experimental, approach and fellowship to professional artists, offering educational programmes, mentoring and a range of other practical means of ensuring art could flourish beyond the confines of the then revered Royal Academy.

So why is art important? Human beings have always sought to create, to adorn, to decorate and, above all else, to construct meaningful narratives. From the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux, France, to Anglo-Saxon treasure hordes in the English countryside, 18th C West African tribal masks, the Bayeux tapestry, to the earthenware vessels of Ancient Rome or the highly ornate hieroglyphics in Ancient Egyptian tombs, every culture and society in the world has sought to create art, often with materials close to hand and plentiful – earth and other organic pigments, wood, glass, metals. Why is this? In part, I think, it’s about celebration, but it’s also about creating beauty and about making sense of the world around us. Above all, it is about telling a story, about communicating with others, about expression and interpretation as well as figurative representation. The visual and decorative arts are all about narratives. Archives, of course, tell their own narratives – through letters, diaries, minutes of meetings, correspondence, photographs – although there are gaps in the art world’s archives, but the art works always speak for themselves. The archives can tell us things we would not otherwise know; for example, that a particular artist (now famous) restricted their palette to just 7 colours during their career. Archives – the historical record – give us enormous insight and understanding about the art works we look at, but they also provide provenance, which is essential in the art world.

Talking about art works speaking for themselves, I was intrigued, a few years ago, to read a novel by Hannah Rothschild (a former trustee of the National Gallery) called The Improbability of Love (published 2015), in which the main character is a painting several centuries old, having changed hands many times and having witnessed some of the great historical events of the last 300 years. The painting speaks, it tells of turbulent events, and it very much tells a narrative of its life and times. In many ways the novel is an exploration of the art world, art history and is, in a sense, a love letter to the enduring power of art. The Improbability of Love, in its fantastical premise, is as delightful as the gender non-specific eponymous hero Orlando, in Virginia Woolf’s novel.

In terms of art, we all know more than we think. Most British people, for example, whether readers of The Times or The Sun, would have no problem naming at least 5 or 6 internationally known artists – Van Gogh, Picasso, Constable, Monet, Rembrandt, etc – although they may be hard pushed to name 5 or 6 internationally known authors. Why has art pervaded our collective consciousness in this way? Most people are not exposed to art through museums or galleries, but through popular culture – posters, prints, greetings cards, even utilitarian items like tea towels with Van Gogh’s Sunflowers printed on them, or decorative biscuit tins with out of copyright images of famous paintings on the lid. In this sense, art has the power to be democratic – we may not own it, but we can see it all around us; on mugs, placemats, calendars, and therefore we all have an opinion; we either like it or we don’t. We respond or we do not. And so what if you own a mug with a version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, or da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, printed on it? It matters not at all. It is no different than having a large-format, glossy coffee table book featuring works by those artists. In this way – yes, even if seen by some as a little kitsch – art is accessible to all of us.

We are all consumers, whether we like it or not, and the visual arts – however we “consume” them – are a delight. The influence of mass media, culture and popular art forms has been the source of many academic studies in post-WW2 Britain, most notably explored in The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart (published 1957), and Ways of Seeing (published 1972), by John Berger. But the celebration of post-war popular culture – in terms of art and design for the home – found its apotheosis in The Festival of Britain, on London’s Southbank, in 1951. Only 6 years after the end of WW2, it was a celebration of design and all that was good about the new wave of British talent, despite a grey and drab Britain still recovering from war, with everything from ceramics to furniture to lighting. It was colourful, it was new wave, it looked to a better, more hopeful future, and it defied the prevailing mood of early 1950s austerity and continued food rationing. It echoed, in its entrepreneurial spirit, the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, although the focus in 1851 was very much on empire, and on new technologies. Imagine if we could have a new “Festival of Britain” in 2051, continuing two centuries of home-grown artistic and design innovation. What would feature? Your guess is as good as mine.

Art can be priceless and iconic (we can all picture the Mona Lisa), it can be a proudly tagged piece of teenage graffiti in your local park, or it can be a colourful crayon sketch that your 8-year old has created. But the one thing that unites it all – the essence, if you like, of its importance – is that it is created in an effort to communicate. It speaks to us. It says something to us. This is why art, in all its forms, is important, as it helps define (and seeks to express) the human condition.

Sally Middleton

Stroud Local History Society

There is nothing new about local history societies.  The only surprise was that in 1984 Stroud did not have one.  There were others interested in Stroud, such as the Civic Society, the Museum Association and the Stroud Preservation Trust, but local history?  No one had ever got round to it.

On 13 December, 1984, a meeting was held in the Stroud Library of those who might be interested.  Over sixty people came, while thirty more had filled in slips saying that they liked the idea but were unable to attend on that particular night.  It was a heady start.  Those who attended promised unanimous support and nearly all joined before they left that night.  That, together with the promises received, gave an initial membership of ninety plus.

There was a two-fold aim, first to foster an interest in the area’s local history and to add to the material on it.

Extract from BIRTH OF A SOCIETY by Alan Morley

To read the full article about the beginning of Stroud LHS visit About the Society | Stroud Local History Society  



Upcoming Talk

The Gasworks Tramway – an illustrated explanation by Mike Smith

Thursday November 17th. Doors open 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. £4.50 non-members

St Laurence Church Hall, The Shambles, Stroud.

Tells the story of how coal arriving on the LMS railway from Dudbridge to Stroud (now the cycle track) was transported down and over the river to the gasworks by the canal

Pay on the day but please book your place(s) by using this link Stroud LHS forms or phone 01453 759641


Book review

“Wallbridge, 1 railway, 2 canals, 3 mills, 4 pubs” by Pauline Stevens

When we think of Wallbridge, we might see a small stretch of road, a lock, and a few businesses but in her new book Pauline Stevens has captured a Wallbridge of old, a busy, noisy, probably smelly, and vibrant hamlet, where goods were created and sold and shipped, fortunes were made and lost, and families lived and socialised. Both the rise and demise of Wallbridge were driven by its transport links, the canal and the railway bringing opportunity, and the increasing use of motor transport leading to the demolition of old routes and buildings.

Long before the canal, this was an important site of a mill, and a bridge here over the River Frome can be dated to c1527. Many people will be familiar with the 1870 painting hanging in the Museum in the Park showing a Wallbridge that is almost unrecognisable, and this volume with its fabulous photos and helpful maps probes even further back to explain its evolution. Thankfully a few treasures were saved from destruction and pictures of some artefacts now at Stroud’s Museum are shown.  Canal records found at Bankfield House, the former headquarters of the Stroudwater Canal Company, have provided a wealth of information.

An enormous amount of research has gone into this story of a place where time never stood still. The families that lived in Wallbridge are chronicled. The fortunes of people who worked on the canal, the inn keepers of four pubs, bakers, blacksmiths, shopkeepers, coal merchants, mill owners and many more, are recounted.  The history of gardens and buildings; from homes, cloth mills, inns, brewhouses, stables, a bakery and a mustard mill are covered in detail. Amongst all this Wallbridge saw sporting activity, with swimming, water polo and skating in the canal basins, and the Stroud Rugby Club headquarters was housed over time in two of its pubs.

The book is an enjoyable and informative read from cover to cover, the photos alone are a revelation, and it is equally useful, and well indexed, to dip into as a reference volume. I certainly won’t walk through Wallbridge again without imagining its significant past and remembering a tale or two.

by Julie Mountain (Remembering Rodborough)

(A copy of “Wallbridge, 1 railway, 2 canals, 3 mills, 4 pubs”  is available at the Archives to read).


For more information about Stroud Local History Society visit

Family History

Shared history

Meeting up with family as many of us have been lucky enough to do over this lovely summer often sparks (or renews) an interest in a shared history.  However it can be difficult to know how to make sense of all those odd memories, stories and half-truths that come to light on these occasions.  There’s a mystery somewhere in most families and getting to the bottom of this can be an exciting experience - ideal for the cold winter days.


This is where we in GFHS come in!  Our Family History Centre in the Heritage Hub is staffed by experienced and enthusiastic volunteers who are delighted to work with you to untangle the knottiest of problems.  Our Centre has subscriptions and free access to many online sources such as Ancestry, Find My Past, FamilySearch and the British Newspaper Library.   These sources cover both the UK and countries abroad, so you’re not restricted to tracing a family with local Gloucestershire roots.

You don’t even have to research your own family.  Some of our volunteers are involved with the Cathedral Quarter project here in Gloucester so they’re investigating some of the many families who lived in Westgate Street, one of the main streets in the city centre, over the last 500 years.  Some amazing stories have come to light as you’d expect.  However the research experience itself is very rewarding and it is great to have fellow enthusiasts nearby to share your successes or offer help (or sympathy) if you hit a brick wall. 

You could start your own ‘House Through Time’ or, if you’re ambitious, ‘Street Through Time’ project to find out more about the individuals who lived in your home or community.  We can help you do this - just drop into the Centre and make a start.

You can find out more about GFHS and what we can offer you on our website


The Family History Centre is open Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday and Friday

Sessions can be booked in the morning (10:00 – 12:30 ) and afternoon(13:30 – 16:00)

The Centre is also open on Heritage Hub “Saturday Event” days (usually 1st Saturday in the month)

For more details visit  Family History Centre – Gloucestershire Family History Society (

Friends of Gloucestershire Archives

FOGA talk and news

‘Trade Unions in Gloucestershire, 1890-1925’

Wednesday 9th November. 2.30pm at The Heritage Hub

David Cook, one of our trustees who has had a lifelong involvement with trade unions in Gloucestershire, has done extensive historical research into the movement.  

Admission is free for members, and we ask a nominal £3 for guests, who are very welcome.

Other news....

The mystery tour provisionally arranged for September has been postponed until Sunday 23 April 2023.  More details in due course.

To read the Summer 2022 newsletter visit Friends of Gloucestershire Archives Newsletter (

For more information about the Friends visit


Gloucestershire Archives: Secrets Revealed


Wednesday 26 October, 1 - 2pm.  Free of charge


Military History

Military archives held by Gloucestershire Archives are considerable in volume and wide ranging in content. The term “military” has been widely interpreted. It includes military material of an archive nature transferred from the Gloucestershire Collection into the archives.


The records relate to almost every conflict that Great Britain has been involved in, from the Wars of the Roses in the 1400s to Civil Defence planning in the 1970s.  They include records of Gloucestershire’s regular, militia, volunteer and Territorial Army units, the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Royal Air Force.


As well as official records, they comprise personal military experiences of individuals in letters and diaries, as well as local government planning relating to civil defence and military buildings.  In this presentation we will be cherry picking some of the most interesting items, to try and bring a flavour of just how extensive our military collections are.


for more information and to book visit Gloucestershire Archives Events

This monthly series of leisurely lunchtime learning sessions are 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 they are easy to digest, laced with humour and full of headline facts and context information ready to unlock an the secrets of a time gone by.

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

You should receive your Zoom link as an automated message when you book on to this event (remember to press the "Book now" button once you've entered your details). If you don't, please check your junk folder. If it's not in there, please contact and we will send you a link.

Gloucester History Festival - Winstone Talk

Invasion: Edward III & The Hundred Years’ War

Dan Jones

Saturday 29 October 2022

6.30-7.30pm Cirencester Parish Church, Market Place, Cirencester £10

Leading historian and broadcaster Dan Jones tells the extraordinary story of the first years of the Hundred Years’ War from Edward lll’s dramatic invasion of Normandy to the 1346 Battle of Crécy – one of the most crucial conflicts in England’s history – explored in his new novel Essex Dogs.

Immortalised by Shakespeare’s Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, the Hundred Years’ War set the course of Anglo-French relations for centuries and had a profound influence on medieval Britain and the English throne. Bestselling historian and broadcaster Dan Jones tells the extraordinary story of the first years of the war from Edward III’s dramatic invasion of Normandy, culminating in the 1346 Battle of Crecy – one of the most significant conflicts in England’s history and the first time longbows were used in a large scale battle – explored in his new book Essex Dogs.


For more information and to book tickets visit

Or call or visit in person Cirencester Visitor Information Centre Tel: 01285 654180

Local History Research

Great news for anyone interested in local history. 

The Victoria County History (VCH), in partnership with the Regional History Centre (RHC) of the University of the West of England, and Gloucestershire Archives, are offering local history research workshops.  Workshops will run fortnightly in the Heritage Hub’s Dunrossil Centre, from 9.30am – 1.00pm.  

Each workshop is on a different topic, and will be led by historians, the VCH and RHC.  You can choose to do as many or as few as you like. 

Each workshop will divide into two sessions with a refreshment break. Tutoring and discussion will be led by historians from VCH and UWE in a friendly and informal atmosphere.

Open to all, whether you are a beginner or have research experience, £10 per workshop.

Concessions: free to VCH volunteers and RHC members, two free sessions of choice for archive volunteers and FOGA members.

Advance booking recommended. Local History Workshops - Heritage hub

Please note: this provisional syllabus may be amended as the course progresses, so please check this website before you plan to attend individual sessions.

  • 1 Nov: THE LOCAL HISTORIAN’S TOOLBOX: key resources. Online – Ancestry, British Newspaper Archive, Historical Directories, BHO/VCH. Printed sources – record series, journals. Archival sources – by creator (local govt, diocese, parish, estate, etc).
  • 15 Nov: THE HISTORY OF THE LANDSCAPE: landscape archaeology – maps – place-names – archaeological resources (HERs) – aerial photography and Lidar.

          15 November - we’re expanding number of spaces available as this session is already fully booked.

  • 29 Nov: THE HISTORY OF BUILDINGS: examining and describing buildings – vernacular and polite architecture – modern and recent buildings and housing – special types of building (religious, industrial, civic, etc) – documentary sources and techniques
  • 13 Dec: WORKING WITH DOCUMENTS: palaeogaphy and techniques of reading documents – Latin – identifying and understanding different types of deeds, manorial records, parish records etc.
  • 17 Jan 2023: OWNERSHIP AND GOVERNMENT: landownership – feudal tenures and manorial descent – manorial courts and control – development of the vestry and parish responsibilities – proliferation of local authorities and their functions.
  • 31 Jan: MOVEMENT AND MIGRATION: roads, canals and railways – the study of population, including settlement shift and desertion – migration, immigration – women’s lives under-represented - drift from countryside to town.
  • 14 Feb: COMMUNITY, SOCIETY AND WELFARE: caring for the poor, sick and elderly – local and national justice – bringing up and educating children – social activities, legal and illegal, moral and immoral.
  • 28 Feb: WORKING LIVES: farming the land – rural and urban trades and industries – labour relations and conflicts – restoring the balance between male and female work.
  • 14 Mar: THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION: ubiquity of the medieval church – monasteries and chantries – effect of the reformation – puritans and nonconformists – Victorian religiosity and its aftermath.

 John Chandler (convenor) (

Local History Workshops - Heritage hub


Voices Gloucester

Flashback Foods - The Film

Friday 4 November, 6 - 7pm. Free event

Picturedrome, Barton Street, Gloucester

   Photo credit Clare Bebbington

Using the delicious dripping cake, or Gloucester Drip as some here would say, we explore the living histories of local peoples with this sweet treat and what this means to the community now. Some definite food for thought…”

On Gloucester Day, we gave away over 500 dripping cakes and invited people to share their stories with us – we were overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and collective love for the humble cake.

Join our Young Producer Dan Farmer- Patel to hear more about the wonderful memories shared with us at Gloucester Day, and to think about how much the food we eat and share shapes our own stories. Drips may or may not be available on the night! 

Free admission – book via Eventbrite

Queer City Voices

Wednesday 16 November, 7 - 10pm. Free event

St Mary de Crypt Church, Southgate St, Gloucester GL1 2DR


Sung Exhibition from Gloucestershire’s first LGBTQ+ choir “Queer Voices Gloucestershire”. The Gloucester based rainbow singing group will showcase a variety of acapella songs from the LGBTQ+ and civil rights movements, traditional folk and contemporary genres. Including original compositions from director Zora McDonald, photo exhibits and solo performances, delivered from members of the local LGTBQ+ community. Bringing the old, the new, traditional, modern and diverse together for an evening of rousing, tranquil and uplifting harmony.

Screening of LGTBQ Nightlife in Gloucester – A film celebrating lesbian spaces: places to gather, to be liberated, to think and connect. A 6–10-minute experimental film. People walk into a lesbian club in 1988, shedding their skins and becoming creature-like. A mix of DIY costume, vfx make up and animation. A visual film, capturing the energy and the togetherness felt in those rooms. Specifically, the film speaks on the LGBTQ scene in small towns. For this project, the contributors will be from Gloucestershire.

Free admission – book via Eventbrite

For more information visit the Voices Gloucester website


Military History in association with the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum

Saturday 5 November, 1 - 4pm. Free of charge. Free parking on site

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, Alvin Street, GL1 3DW


A special focus event on the military history of our county.

Talk at 1.30pm: 

‘The Glosters in Burma’ by Lt Col (Retd) Rob Dixon, a former commanding officer of The Glosters, based on research from unpublished documents held by The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum. Describes the Gloucestershire Regiment’s Burma Campaign in the Second World War, from 1944 to the end.

Contributions from:

  • Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum
  • The Royal British Legion
  • The Western Front Association

Discover more about the collection of World War One military appeal tribunals, held at Gloucestershire Archives

Do you have relatives who have served in the Armed Forces? Come and speak to volunteers at the Gloucestershire Family History Society to find out more.

Booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

A special focus event on the military history of our county, with contributions from:

    For information visit Saturday events 2022 - Gloucestershire Archives 


    Gloucestershire Family History Society will be open during the day from 10am-4pm. Please see for further details.


    Gloucestershire Archives: Secrets Revealed

    Anything that moves!

    Wednesday 23 November, 1 - 2pm.  Free of charge

    It’s all aboard the archives as this month’s presentation will be on the subject of transport! 


    We hope to include an example or two of literally anything that has moved in the county of Gloucestershire throughout history.  We’ll look at horses, boats, barges, ships, carts, stage coaches, traction engines, tractors, motorcycles, cars, charabancs, buses, lorries, trains, trams, air balloons, gliders, aeroplanes and even a space ship!!  All this activity has dramatically changed the county as well with the growth of all the different types of infrastructure that transport has required from tracks, roads, canals, docks, railways and airports.  

    Delving into the county’s archives we hope that we can demonstrate all these transport types and the changes that they have brought, as well as providing some interesting and thought provoking information. 

    A Gloucestershire heritage transport extravaganza!


    For more information and to book, visit Gloucestershire Archives Events

    This monthly series of leisurely lunchtime learning sessions are 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 they are easy to digest, laced with humour and full of headline facts and context information ready to unlock an the secrets of a time gone by.

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

    You should receive your Zoom link as an automated message when you book on to this event (remember to press the "Book now" button once you've entered your details). If you don't, please check your junk folder. If it's not in there, please contact and we will send you a link.

    ‘Anything that moves…’

    Trains, planes, buses, barges, ships....

    A Gloucestershire heritage transport extravaganza

    Saturday 3 December, 1 - 4pm. Free event



    1.30pm - ‘Did your Ancestor sail on the Titanic? How to research your ancestors, by Liz Jack,

    2.30pm -  ‘Gloucester’s Railways’, by Tony Condor


    Thomas the Tank Engine comes to the Hub! A working layout by Hucclecote Model Railway Group with a model of the Horton Road Railway Engine Shed

    Stroudwater Navigation Archive Charity and associated heritage groups will be available for you to learn about their work.


    • Jet Age Museum
    • Canal and River Trust
    • Alan Drewett of Gloucestershire Transport History featuring a 'GWR at War ' diorama with GRCW wagons and GRCW-built Churchill tanks and other models
    • An exhibition of transport related records from collections held within the Gloucestershire Archives
    • A focus on immigration and emigration by Gloucestershire Family History Society

     Turn up on the day or book now to avoid disappointment



    Gloucestershire Family History Society will be open during the day from 10am-4pm. Please visit for further details.

    South Gloucestershire

    South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group

    Wednesday 26th October 2022, 

    “A Mining Miscellany”  a talk by Steve Grudgings and Adrian Crew

    Miners Institute (aka Coalpit Heath Village Hall), 214 Badminton Road, Coalpit Heath, BS36 2QB
    7:00pm for 7:30pm PROMPT start

    This intriguing talk will cover:

    ➢ Key discoveries of new data
    ➢ Previously unseen pictures of Shortwood Colliery and Brickworks
    ➢ New photographs of Frog Lane colliery and railway
    ➢ Sketches of a 1790 engine at Keynsham
    ➢ New information on the Kingswood Liberties
    ➢ Several other newly found images and maps
    ➢ Analysis of water from colliery drainage levels Coalpit Heath and Kingswood
    ➢ and more . . . . . .

    Non members welcome - £2 each
    (Membership is £17.50 per year, includes talks and newsletters)

    Avon Local History Association

    ALHA is an umbrella group, aiming to encourage and coordinate activities of the various local history, archaeological and heritage groups that lie within the Avon area. Our area is the former County of Avon, now the council areas of Bath & North-East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

    From the August newsletter:


    ALHA and ALHA member Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (which in spite of its name also promotes local history) are planning an event in 2024 to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Handel Cossham, the Thornbury lad who went to work in Yate, married into coal, came to own and work much of the south Gloucestershire coalfield, became a member of Parliament, applied his wealth to philanthropy, and left money to found Kingswood’s Cossham hospital. [Image from Thornbury Roots]. The next ALHA newsletter will contain a call for speakers, a request for suggested venues and topics, and an appeal for help with organising the day or half day. In the mean time, if you are interested, please contact the treasurer,


    ALHA’s newest booklet, no.36, edited by Dr Jonathan Harlow, is ready. The title is Dr Edward Long Fox: Radical and mental health pioneer and the author is Dinah Moore. ELF was a physician who was active in Bristol politics, pioneered humane treatment for the insane at Brislington House, and founded a therapeutic spa on Knightstone island off Weston super mare. An order form, with a small discount for early purchases, accompanies this e-update.

    This is Dinah Moore’s first ALHA booklet. She offers talks on Edward Long Fox and related subjects – there are connections with William Cookworthy and delftware and much else – but it will be some months before the next edition of ALHA’s directory of presenters is issued. DM can be contacted at 

    Dr Edward Long Fox - Radical and mental health pioneer

    For more information and to read the full newsletter visit Newsletters | Avon Local History & Archaeology (


    Winterbourne Medieval Barn Events


    Winterbourne Medieval Barn is a building of national importance. Built in 1342, just a few years before the Black Death swept across England, the barn is an extraordinary survivor of our medieval past. It was commissioned by Thomas de Bradeston, who was Lord of the Manor of Winterbourne from 1328 until his death in 1360.


    Community events coming up at Winterbourne Medieval Barn 

    Thursday 3rd November & Thursday 1 December     

    Tea and Tour, 2pm

    Explore the magnificent medieval barn. The original 14th Century roof structure remains largely intact – a fine example of a raised-cruck construction and it appears to be one of the largest and earliest raised-cruck barns.

    Wednesday 16th November   

    Talk : The Medieval Festivals of Britain, 7pm

    Join celebrated historian, Prof Ronald Hutton for our festive lecture on Medieval Festivals, some of which may even have been held in places like The Barn.

    Medieval Britain had a rich and regular calendar of major seasonal festivals, serving different human needs at different points of the year and fitted to the practical processes of the farming year.

    This talk seeks to answer the questions of how many there were, and why; what their relationship was with those elsewhere in Europe; what difference Christianity made to them; and whether anything changed fundamentally in them with the coming of modernity.

    This talk can also be accessed via Zoom.

    Wednesday 30th November     

    Gaudete!  Songs & Tunes of Yuletide Past, 7.30pm

    600 years of festive music!

    Following on from GreenMatthews ten years of successful touring Christmas shows, Gaudete! is an expanded lineup playing new and exciting arrangements. The music is lush, rich and heartwarming – perfectly evoking the Spirit of Christmas Past.

    Their repertoire spans 600 years from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Featuring Christmas carols, winter folk songs, toe-tapping tunes and a plethora of weird and wonderful instruments, Gaudete! brings the festive season to life in a riot of sound and colour!

    For further details and booking see the website

    Registered Charity number 1112908         

    Mining Yate



    Yate & District Heritage Centre, Church Road, Yate, BS37 5BG

    Saturday 22nd October 2022 10:30 am - Saturday 17th December 2022 4:30 pm

    Mining in Yate reflects the amazing history of mining which the Yate area can boast from at least the 18th century to the 1940s.

    With some of the finest artefacts from local mining collections including coal trucks, that of the South Gloucestershire Mining Research Project, we cover coal mining and Celestine (local mineral) mining and the communities which made it all happen.


    For more information visit

    Follow on Facebook | Follow on Twitter

    Gloucestershire Police Archives

    Police update

    Because of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll the long awaited Force Open Day was postponed.

    The archives website marked Her Majesty’s long association with Gloucestershire as well as providing a display at Police Headquarters.


    The Queen at Gloucester Cathedral 17th April 2003 for distribution of Maundy Money. (Gloucestershire Police Archives URN 10764-81)

    To see the display visit

    Although we continue to receive queries in the office and through the website (around 40 since the last newsletter) we have been to fewer events as we were concentrating on updating our displays and photograph albums for the Open Day. Since the last one we have had a new Police and Crime Commissioner and a pandemic as well as several major incidents so it has all taken a lot of updating.

    During the summer we went to an event at Kemble on the airfield

    There was a military theme so we took out a display of the Police officers killed during the world wars as well as the officers who were killed on duty and officers who were awarded the Silver Braid. It was a wet day and although the displays suffered, a good time was had by all.

    Before the end of the school holiday we were very lucky to have a group of Police Cadets come to the heritage Hub and help us to move our documents. The documents had been spread over 4 strong rooms at the furthest point from the Chester Master room. Now all our documents are together in one place much more accessible from the office. Thank you to the cadets who turned up during their holiday to help.

    The cadets also visited a care home to visit Ron Smith a police pensioner. He also sends his memories into the police archives with the help of Elaine.


    We have a busy autumn ahead with talks booked in October for Thornbury Rotary , Stroud Local History Society  and Newent Local History Society and in November there will be talks in Gloucester for Footlights.  We are always happy to give talks which are written to link with the area we are talking in.

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

  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.

    Visit the website

    Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life