Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

Happy Birthday NHS

The National Health Service was formed 75 years ago on 5 July 1948 and Gloucestershire Archives has been involved in local celebrations of this milestone birthday.  Over the past few months we’ve been working with NHS staff to produce an exhibition about the development of the health service in Gloucestershire.  As part of this process we have acquired some fantastic new photographs and promotional films for our collections, and some keen advocates for our service.  

'Mash up' of old photographs of Cheltenham General Hospital, now added to our collections as NHS acc no 16402

Cheltenham School of Nursing, 1978, now added to our collections as NHS acc no 16402

The exhibition was formally opened at a special evensong service at Gloucester Cathedral and will be on display in the cloisters until September, alongside specially commissioned artwork. 

We’ve also put a version of the exhibition 'In sickness and in health' online and have created a dedicated NHS75 page which signposts to other relevant resources.  Particular thanks are due to volunteers Val and Gail whose research underpins the exhibition and has produced several fact sheets, now available online. 

You can see the online exhibition here NHS75 - Gloucestershire Archives

You can see the NHS dedicated page here The NHS will be 75 on 5th July - Gloucestershire Archives

Take the 'Green Pledge'

We are thrilled to receive a major grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for our 'Green Pledge' project.

The award, which comes under the Heritage Fund’s Dynamic Collections programme, is just shy of £250K (£246,800 to be precise) and will help record the county’s environmental legacy and drive forward climate action.

Our two year project will aim to encourage further environmental action by exploring climate change and involving people in green heritage activities.  The county’s unique environmental archives will be opened up and used for various events and activities involving the public, including:

  • Public workshops with young people and environmental groups to help collect new environmental archives and oral histories, including from key environmentalists to fill gaps and provide a fuller record for future generations
  • An online and travelling exhibition called ‘Green Gloucestershire – Our Past, Our Future’
  • Events hosted at the Heritage Hub in Gloucester as well as inside libraries, schools, community venues and online, to help raise awareness of environmental sustainability
  • Volunteer programme sorting and listing significant environmental map collections
  • Cataloguing existing archived environmental records
  • Training for new archives apprentice to produce guides and toolkits to unlock environmental archives for diverse audiences
  • Environmental audit of Gloucestershire Heritage Hub to reduce its carbon footprint, by adding solar panels and reducing waste and consumption of gas and electricity
  • Public pledge campaign with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to reduce carbon footprints

Councillor Lynden Stowe, the Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for Archives, said: “I’m delighted Gloucestershire Archives have received this award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. This project will play an important role in helping us to understand and tackle climate change, as it will open up and expand our environmental archives and involve residents in a range of activities to raise greater awareness of this issue.”

Stuart McLeod, Director of England - London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to support this project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will open up the important environmental archives of Gloucestershire. It will enable the community to learn and connect with the unique natural heritage of the county. We know that projects like these offer an important opportunity to learn and adapt to reduce the impact of climate change for future generations.”


Opportunities to further enhance the community garden and to get involved with vast quantities of historic maps with environmental annotations!  Here we have Friends of Gloucestershire Archives' volunteers enjoying a previous map project.

Local History

Local history goes to top of the class

July has been a brilliant month for engaging schools with local history as two major Voices Gloucester partnership projects have come to fruition. Both projects have been made possible by funding from Historic England under the Heritage Schools programme, and sprang from ideas suggested and shaped by local teachers.  

For the 'Gates Street' project, Civic Trust guides led children from six local primary schools on tours of Gloucester city centre’s four ancient streets.  Westgate Street had so much of interest, it had to be divided between two schools!  At strategic stopping off points, the children were encouraged to capture things which had caught their interest, either by sketching or in words.  Project artist Catherine Hawkridge ran a follow up session in each school and then developed the children’s work into a four- fold leaflet giving a unique child’s eye view of the city centre. The leaflet will be printed and available in time for the Gloucester History Festival and there will be an exhibition featuring more of the children’s work at The Folk from 1-15 September.

Then on 12 July, we ran a one day Schools Heritage Conference at Gloucestershire University’s Oxstalls campus with support from Archives staff and University Events students.  Around 90 year 12 (A level) history students and their teachers attended the day which kicked off with a panel discussion on What is Heritage Now?, chaired by award winning podcaster Jo Durrant.  Students then broke into groups to attend their choice of workshop on the varied topics of Fake News, the Windrush, Archaeology and Oral History.

After lunch, best selling author, historian and broadcaster Tracy Borman spoke about the mother daughter relationship of Anne Boleyn & Elizabeth 1, the subject of her latest book.  The day closed with a heritage focussed market place and book stalls.  Here's some of the feedback we received:  

Tracy Borman was so informative on areas of the curriculum

Great, loved it

Fantastic as a first event

We’d love to make the Conference an annual event and involve more schools, possibly extending it to younger, GCSE, students.






Back by popular demand!......

Beginning in mid-October last year, the Victoria County History team (in collaboration with the University of the West of England, and supported by Gloucestershire Archives) ran twice monthly workshops on aspects of local history.  All 10 sessions proved incredibly popular, attracting audiences of around 40 people each time, up to and including the last workshop on 14 March.   

We were very gratified by the comments we received on the feedback forms which we circulated to participants, and Dr John Chandler, VCH County Editor, wrote a report summarising them, which was circulated to UWE, VCH central office, the archivists at the Hub and of course to the lecturers. There were very many complimentary remarks, but also some suggestions for changes, additions and improvements.  We are trying to take these all on board. Because (drum roll)  ........

......... we are planning to repeat the series, on alternate Thursday mornings this time, and have dates booked in the Dunrossil Centre at the Hub. The first session will be on 19 October 2023, then fortnightly to 14 December, then resuming on 11 January 2024 and running to the final session on 7 March. Over the next few weeks John will be working out the syllabus, contacting all the lecturers and publicising the course as widely as possible. If you are interested in coming - to all of them, or just to the ones you missed first time round, do please look out for further publicity and a syllabus once it is all worked out, or contact the Hub (

Heritage Hubs: too much of a good thing?

Back in 2014/15 when we chose the name Gloucestershire Heritage Hub for  the planned transformation of the Archives Service we didn’t imagine the heritage hub concept would become so fashionable.  As far as we know we were the first in the UK as internet searches didn’t reveal any others, and the domain name ‘heritagehub’ was freely available for our website and associated social media.  A quick google search today reveals that there are now Heritage Hubs in Leicester, Portsmouth, Hertfordshire, Hawick in the Scottish Borders, Belfast, and a UK Heritage Hub dedicated to aeroplanes…. Last week we also heard that Cheltenham Civic Trust are fundraising for a heritage hub in Cheltenham.  As we thought this could be confusing for us and for them (especially as our heritage hub covers Cheltenham in our countywide remit), we’ve been in touch and confirmed that this term only relates to their fundraising campaign.  Their new building will be called Parmoor.  We fully support their fundraising campaign but thought we ought to let our partners and supporters know that we are not planning to set up a new building or branch in Cheltenham!   


 The term Gloucestershire Heritage Hub primarily refers to our newly expanded and refurbished building in Kingsholm in Gloucester, which is now home to lots of heritage partners as well as Gloucestershire Archives.  When planning the extension of the building and increased links with lots of community organisations focusing on heritage, some partners were concerned about moving into a building called Gloucestershire Archives, so we agreed to change the name of the building.   Gloucestershire Archives remains the name for the archives service provided by the County Council.  As part of our lottery funded For the Record transformation project, we also decided to use the term Gloucestershire Heritage Hub to refer to the community of heritage organisations and people working together across the county to promote the written and oral heritage of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.  This is why we have a Heritage Hub e-newsletter, website and associated social media, all used to promote Gloucestershire Archives and our heritage partners.    We are very grateful to our partners for working alongside us to make a difference:   Gloucestershire Family History Society, Friends of Gloucestershire Archives, Gloucestershire County History Trust (Victoria County History), Voices Gloucester (community engagement and events), Gloucester History Trust (Gloucester History Festival), Gloucestershire Local History Association, Gloucester Rugby Heritage, Gloucestershire Police Archives and Gloucestershire County Council Registration copy certificates service.  



'75 years- our story'

In celebration of the South Asian Heritage Month (July 18 to August 17) we are hosting an exhibition of photographs curated by Halima Malek, Community Producer with Strike A Light.  In 2022, the 75th year since Indian partition, Halima gathered stories from Gloucester’s Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities as part of her ’75 years – our stories’ project.  You can see the resultant exhibition in the foyer at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub until the beginning of September.  An artwork (wooden tryptic) by Aumairah inspired by the project is due to be installed soon.  Films capturing some of the stories celebrating the experiences and culture of the Gloucester’s South Asian communities will also be added to the collections at Gloucestershire Archives to ensure they remain available for future generations.


Family History

A mystery solved

How did a Russian toddler come to be buried in Stow-on-the-Wold in November 1909? 

 This was the question one of our volunteers asked when she found this entry in the Stow parish register (P317 IN 1/30).  This was absolutely not what she was actually looking for but she couldn’t resist digging into the online sources available in our Family History Centre. 

The rector, who conducted the burial service, added some extra information:

 *Died in the train in his mother’s arms.  The mother, two other children, a woman and three more men were on their way from America to Hamburg - emigrants.  The dead child’s father is awaiting them in New York

Fortunately for us, despite the very unusual circumstances, the local Coroner decided to go ahead with a formal Inquest to establish the cause of the child’s death.  No original records have survived but unsurprisingly the Inquest was reported in all the local papers. Putting these accounts together, we can understand much of what had happened.  Mrs Howman of the Elms School, Stow acted as an interpreter for Mrs Witkowsky so we have a vivid first-hand account of the tragic reality of the situation rather than just a more neutral official account.

 The German speaking Mary Witkowsky with her children was on her way home to New York from northern Germany.  She had met the other adults, who were Russian, on the voyage from Hamburg to Grimsby.  This was the first stage of an established emigrant route from eastern Europe which included a train journey from Grimsby to Southampton and then another ship to New York.

The Coroner was very thorough so we can understand exactly how the tragedy unfolded.  The first leg of the journey had been especially rough so everyone had been very seasick.  Then the group failed to change trains in Banbury as timetabled.  The Guard arranged for them to get out in Stow so they could take the next service back up the line and then catch a train to Southampton.  This was the point when Mary Witkowsky realised that her young son Leon had died and the Stow authorities stepped in.  Leon’s death was attributed to ‘shock following seasickness’.

 Mary Witkowsky also explained the reasons for her journey.  She’d left her husband in New York two years earlier for ‘a holiday’ with her own family in northern Germany and their son Leon was born during this time.  This seems an unusual decision given her circumstances but she’d also travelled from New York with two stepchildren which raises even more questions.  Therefore when they arrived in Stow the Witkowskys were on their way back home to New York so not Russian emigrants at all. 

 We’ve found a lot more about this family in passenger lists and other US sources online but that is another story.

Visit our website for more information about GFHS, the FH Centre, our talks and events, our newsletter and social media links


Visit our website for more information about GFHS, the FH Centre, our talks and events, our newsletter and social media links


Friends of Gloucestershire Archives

Rugby players for a day!

On Sunday 25 June members of the Friends and their guests waited at the roadside for the coach that would take them on their annual mystery tour.  The coach came into sight, but it was not what they expected.  This was no ordinary coach but one painted in Gloucester Rugby’s livery and emblazoned with their logo, the luxury vehicle used to transport the famous Cherry and Whites to away games. Here was a treat even as the tour started.

At various stopping points onlookers spotted the coach.  They watched and waited for big burly rugby players to descend, perhaps hoping for an autograph, but showed some surprise when a group consisting mainly of senior citizens clambered slowly down the steps.

The coach headed to south Wales where the first stop was Caerwent, a town founded by the Romans and built to much the same design as Gloucester.  Whereas Roman Gloucester has been built over by countless generations, the remains buried under later buildings, in Caerwent the foundations of Roman buildings are clearly visible, houses, shops, the forum and even a basilica.

The second stop was Cowbridge (with more surprised onlookers when the coach arrived) where the Friends enjoyed lunch in cafes and pubs but also explored the medieval layout of the town, discovered a wonderful physic garden, and enjoyed seeing a variety of delightful town houses.

The last stop was Llantwit Major.  The object of the visit was to explore the magnificent church dedicated to St Illtud, but a short wait was necessary as a wedding was taking place.  Fortunately, one of the local pubs was holding a beer festival, which kept some members pleasantly entertained.  The church itself is a breathtaking edifice, perhaps as long as the nave and quire of Gloucester Cathedral.  In effect it is three churches of different eras joined together in one glorious building, with intriguing wall paintings and monuments.  It sits on the site of a monastic school founded by Illtud about 500 AD and claims to be Britain’s oldest seat of learning.  A once derelict galilee chapel, recently restored, houses an impressive collection of large inscribed Celtic stones, the earliest dating from the 9th Century.

A Roman town, a physic garden and a church which played a part in the development of Welsh Christianity – all these were within easy distance of Gloucestershire yet virtually no one on the tour had ever been to them before.  Our thanks go to Dr John Chandler who organised the tour and introduced them to members.  John’s research and meticulous planning provided the Friends with a most memorable, and enjoyable, mystery tour.


'Bells & Whistles'

Our monthly themed event at the Heritage Hub looks at sport, entertainment & fairs in bygone times

Saturday 5 August, 1 - 4pm. Free of charge. Free parking

 Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, Alvin Street, Gloucester GL1 3DW

Talks of the day (please note: booking onto talks is required due to capacity.) 

 13:00 - Magic Lantern Show, Patrick Furley Book Now

Patrick will treat us to an authentic magic lantern display, once the height of technology! Step back in time and expect some quirky humour.

 14:30 - ‘Gloucestershire – The Fairground Calendar. A trip round the historical county of Gloucestershire to visit some of its many and varied fairs’ by Graham Downie Book Now​

Graham Downie, author, Chairman of the Fairground Association of Great Britain and an advisor to the National Fairground & Circus Archive at the University of Sheffield.

Book via Events at

 More on the day (no booking needed)

  • Display of Gloucester Rugby Club records held at Gloucestershire Archives curated by Gloucester Rugby enthusiast, author and historian Malc King.  Even better, Malc and fellow Gloucester Rugby Heritage trustee Ron Etheridge will be on hand to chat!.
  • Free refreshments throughout the afternoon.
  • Is entertainment in your genes? Find out more at the Gloucestershire Family History Resource Centre, open from 10am. [Main event starts at 1pm]

'Bells & Whistles' is part of the Kingsholm Activity Day:  exciting art, culture, and heritage events throughout the neighbourhood delivered in partnership with Voices Gloucester


Kingsholm Activity Day

A full day of FREE exciting art, culture and heritage events on Saturday 5 August 

Make a day of it, or dip into a couple of activities.  Collect stickers at the main locations and add them to the dotted circles on the flyer.  There are drop in activities at all sites but please visit for more details and to book for talks and tours (except where otherwise stated). 

Here's the full programme:

Sherborne Cinema, from 10.00

Open for refreshments, loos and screenings of family friendly films Elemental and Barbie

For more info, visit

Hillfield Gardens, 10.30-12.30

Launch of Hillfield Monuments, an animation trail which brings to life the Garden's mysterious buildings.  Find and scan the QR codes to see the monuments move! 

Clapham Court, 11.00-2.00

Activities, exhibition and the chance to share memories of this iconic space, once home to many

Rainbow Street/St Marks Street 12.00

Tash Frootko leads a lively tour of the street, lasting about 1 hour

Heritage Hub, 1.00-4.00

'Bells & Whistles - this month our themed open day looks at sports, entertainment and fairs of past times. Book talks and magic lantern show at

Roots Community Cafe & Roots refills - open all day

Show the Kingsholm Activity Day flyer to get £1 off a special event picnic bag

'Kushti Divvus' Romany Exhibition

Thursdays – Saturdays 10am – 4pm at The Folk, Westgate Street, Gloucester until 21st August. Free entry and no need to book.

Kelly Marie Horsley was born into the Romany/Gypsy community in Gloucester – her mother’s first language is Romany. Kelly has been recording her community's histories across the generations.  Supported by historian Marsha O’Mahony and Voices Gloucester Young Curator Georgia Williams, she has put together this remarkable exhibition celebrating a rich and fascinating heritage.

'Kushti Divvus' means a 'good day' in Romany

A Voices Gloucester event

Gloucester History Festival 2023

Wow- what a line up!  This year's Festival has lots to offer for anyone interested in local history.  Here's a sneak preview of what's in store:

  • Simon Draper - Placenames in the Gloucestershire Landscape
  • Andrew Armstrong - the story of Whitefriars Priory
  • Dilip Sarkar - Spitfire! & Gloucestershire’s Battle of Britain
  • Phil Moss - the people of Blackfriars Priory
  • Neil Holbrook - Glevum: The Last 100 Years
  • Michael McCarthy - Dick Whittington & Gloucestershire
  • 150 Years of Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm Stadium - Thursday 7 September
  • Gloucestershire Battlefields - Tony Condor at the Gala Club
  • My Gloucester Discovery - with Janina Ramirez, Andrew Armstrong & David Carpenter. 
  • Helen Carr, Janina Ramirez and & others talking about Gloucester’s history.

Be sure to check out the History Festival brochure for dates and full details.  Tickets go on sale from Friday 28th July.  Buy online  or in person at the Museum of Gloucester 10am - 5pm daily or by phone on Tel: 07834 406228 10am - 5pm daily

And a date for next year's diary- the Gloucester History Festival Spring weekend will be 12-14th April 2024

Gloucestershire Archives: Secrets Revealed online talk

'Here We Are Now, Entertain us' 

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

This month’s online talk is all about entertainment in the county, so we will look at all aspects of rest, recreation, and relaxation from archery to xylophones and most things in between.  As well as what we might call the all the ‘usual entertainments’ such as cinema, dancing, fairs, fetes, concerts, music hall, theatre and sports, we’ll have a look at the other crazy entertainments that Gloucestershire is famous for such as cheese rolling, river football, woolsack racing and Captain Dover’s Olimpick Games!

To book visit Gloucestershire Archives Events


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

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

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

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


Yate International Festival

Coming to the Yate & District Heritage Centre, Saturday 16 September, 10.30-16.30

This is the 15th festival since 2006.  The day of workshops, food and music will feature South Asian, African, Chinese, Irish and Ukrainian performances and a host of activities including Hindu Puppet Theatre and sari dressing.  Plus Caribbean and Indian food.. 

Other upcoming events at the Yate & District Heritage Centre:

  • Exhibition on the Chinese Community in Bath, 1 August -2 September
  • Sodbury & Yate photographic exhibition, 5-30 September 


Find out more at www.

Voices Gloucester

Be sure to check out the Voices Gloucester summer programme of exciting events and activities.  

Highlights include: 

  • Healing Herbs symposium, 30 July
  • 'Kushti Divvus' Romany exhibition, until 21 August
  • Kingsholm Activity Day, 5 August
  • Mapping Alney Island, 19 August
  • Gloucester Gates exhibition, 1- 15 September
  • A Costume for Gloucester exhibition, 16-30 September
  • 'Threads' Sessions- 2 days of textile related talks, 19 &20 September

    For full details and to book, visit the Voices Gloucester website

    Voices Gloucester aims to challenge to challenge what history is, in a safe, supportive environment, respect and represent new voices, offer unexpected perspectives on events, spark new conversations, connect communities with shared experiences and inspire more people to connect with the heritage, history and community of Gloucester.

    South Gloucestershire

    This is your heritage, stories from the Indian community

    South Gloucestershire's new Museums and Heritage Officer Alison Catlin reflects on the conclusion of a successful project

    Our Indian Stories Project sought to find and share unexplored stories of Indian heritage, migration, settlement, and what life is like today. The project was developed from conversations with the South Gloucestershire Race Equalities Network, supported by the Avon Indian Community Association and received funding from Arts Council England.


    Its legacy is available for everyone to share at There are 12 unique films capturing different stories and experiences as well as learning resources for primary schools. Although the stories are rooted in South Gloucestershire, they have a wider resonance for communities everywhere.  The project output, including oral history interviews, will be lodged with Gloucestershire Archives for permanent preservation.

     We are hugely grateful to the Indian community, to our independent museums and their volunteers, to the project officers and filmmaker, Hardik Gauurev, and the many other people who were involved for making the project possible. Bringing together and supporting all these partners was a final labour of love by Jane Marley, our Museums and Heritage Officer, who has now retired. It is a testament to her dedication and care that the project was so successful, more than meeting its objectives and leaving a lasting link to these significant lived experiences. We hope you enjoy sharing them with us.


    Gloucestershire Police Archives

    Busy Times for the Constabulary Archives

    What a strange summer it has been so far with extremes of weather and fluctuating demand for our services. It is often quiet when it is warm and sunny and then when the weather breaks we get busy again.

    In April we celebrated Iftar (the fast-breaking evening meal of Muslims in Ramadan) at Police Headquarter with some of the cadets modelling old uniform.

    And Dymock WI were given a talk on women police in Gloucestershire.

    We also attended the Gloucestershire branch of National Association of Retired Police Officers AGM

     Then there was the Coronation in May and some of Gloucestershire Constabulary’s officers attended.

    The King took time out of his busy schedule to congratulate Andy Gardiner on his 62 years service with the constabulary. Andy started as a cadet in 1961 and retired in May. I think he deserves a rest!

    In July we went to an event held at Kemble and spent the day in a Jumbo Jet.

    And as usual we answered lots of queries, spent a day in school talking about the history of early policing as well as transcribing documents and preparing web pages.

    My favourite query this time was from a lady in her 60s whose grandfather died in 1934 and she had never seen him nor had her father who was only a few months old when his father died. She found out that her grandfather had been arrested in Gloucestershire just before he died and wondered if we were able to find a mug shot of him. We didn’t have anything but were able to find a picture in the prison records for her.

    We are already taking bookings for talks in 2024. Isn’t it worrying how quickly it will come around?

    The Police Open Day will be back after a break for the pandemic and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It will be a ticket only event this year keep a look out for further updates.


    If you have any police related photographs we are always happy to receive Jpegs via and queries can also be sent to the same email address.   We are usually open at the  Heritage Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays until 2.30 but it is worth checking before you make a visit as we do go out and about quite often.


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