Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

A History of the Dowty Group

Sir George Dowty HonFRAeS was one of the great names of twentieth century aerospace manufacturing. His post-World War I innovations led to him creating the specialist firm focusing on the landing gears that were used on Lancasters, Typhoons and Halifaxes and which bore his name.

Ally McConnell, Archivist at Gloucestershire Archives, talked about the life and work of the great man and how his company evolved during the twentieth century. She also explains how the story emerged during a project to catalogue the company’s archives and thorough a recently unearthed autobiography that was completed weeks before Dowty’s death and recently published as Sir George Dowty, In His Own Words.

Published by Hobnob Press 

Ally presented her webinar to the RAeS Gloucester & Cheltenham Branch on 19 January 2021, it was introduced by Oliver Towers FRAeS and the audio recording was edited by Eur Ing Mike Stanberry FRAeS.

  Click on image to see the webinar


For the audio recording and more information visit


EDITOR's note:   Congratulations to Ally and all the volunteers who contributed to the cataloguing of the huge Dowty archive as a major strand of the 'For the Record' transformation project.   It's great to see all these additional extra-curricular activities emerging too as a result of opening up the archive.  Well done and thanks to all concerned.

A little bit about community heritage, and what it means

The team of staff I work with, at Gloucestershire Archives, is called the PLOT (Partnerships, Learning & Outreach) Team.

Community heritage is an integral part of what the Heritage Hub was set up to promote. If community groups want advice or support in gathering, keeping and sharing their documented heritage they can come to us and have a discussion, attend some of our training, pitch a funding bid (which we can help with) and talk through their plans. In an average year, we can receive around 6 or 7 such enquiries. Recent community groups have included a village history group, an African-Caribbean history group, a local history society, a film-maker wanting to document the experiences of older people, a primary school wanting to do a heritage project all about their neighbourhood, involving students and parents, and a whole range of others.

We receive requests from a wide range of organisations (some of them focussed on heritage, some of them not) to work in partnership with them to bring their project to fruition. Occasionally, this means signing a partnership agreement – making explicit what each of the partners will contribute to the project. But, more often, it’s about what we can contribute “in kind”. This could be support and guidance, staff time, becoming part of their project management team to advise on each stage of their project or whatever it is they need us to do.

One typical project we’ve been asked to provide some support to is “The Rainbow Street” project. This is an ordinary street, in Gloucester, of older terraced houses. A new householder moved in a few months ago, and she is an artist and a community activist. She painted the outside of her house in a bright colour, and all the other house-owners did the same – the street now comprises houses painted, on their exteriors, in bright reds, orange, yellows, greens and has earned national recognition of a community coming together. The artist has approached us, saying there are some interesting folk living in the street, many of them interested in history. Some have lived in their properties for 5 or 6 decades. So we’ve talked about doing oral history interviews with the residents of this street – capturing their memories of the street, the neighbourhood, the local shops and schools, the history of their houses, their street and their community. It is an example of what may be called ABCD – asset based community development. The street is in a neighbourhood that has its fair share of urban social and economic issues. But the community has come together, with a shared passion – brightening up the street, encouraging collective action, taking pride in place, looking out for one another – and restored a sense of neighbourliness. And all this through heritage.

Part of the vision for the Heritage Hub is that its partners will share their expertise, learn from each other, collaborate on big projects and offer reciprocal support. For example, in January 2022, the 1921 census will be published, and we’re already talking with onsite partners about how we might do something, together, to mark this occasion, such as a workshop for members of the public.

This very collaborative way of working is refreshing, and something I’ve not experienced in my working life before. By collaborating, you can easily share resources, exchange ideas, offer solutions, and get the job done (whatever it might be!) far more quickly than going solo.

Community heritage work can focus on literally anything – as we’ve seen with the Rainbow Street example, above. It can be a tool for revitalising a sense of community, improving a neighbourhood, building relationships, learning together and, indeed, celebrating identity (as with many of the minority ethnic community projects we support). But it also captures, for generations to come, people’s memories, thoughts, impressions and feelings. It is a snapshot, in so many ways, of what it’s like to live in a particular place, do a particular job or deal with today’s events large or small (like the coronavirus pandemic) in the early years of the twenty-first century.

Our core reason for existence is to share, and keep, our collections, dating back nearly 1,000 years. But collections don’t exist in a vacuum; to keep them relevant they must grow, be added to and reflect the here and now. Gloucestershire Archives is keen to reflect the experiences of people today – the diversity of life in Gloucestershire, the concerns of our residents right now, their experiences, and their memories.

Community heritage is just that. It’s about community. And it’s about heritage. In striving to share it, we learn so much about each other. And that has to be one of the best things about working in this sector.

Sally Middleton – Community Heritage Development Manager.

New Ancestry content

In association with Gloucestershire Archives, the Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Marriage and Banns, 1754 – 1938 collection on Ancestry has been updated.

7,387 records have been added to the collection of 1,491,220 records. Most of the new indexes cover the parish of Tewkesbury for which some previously missing marriage records have been added.

Parish registers are one of the most important record types as they help lay the foundations for people to build out their family trees. This makes them amongst some of the most valuable and best used content sets with our users.

Where there have been opportunities to digitise and publish parish collections, the aim is to keep the collection as complete as possible. This means adding records after the initial launch, particularly when additional years fall outside of privacy restrictions or material becomes newly accessible.

In doing so, Ancestry aims to ensure that their online parish register offering mirrors what is available in the reading rooms of archives too. 

Gloucestershire Archives accreditation

We’re delighted to report that Gloucestershire Archives has again been awarded Accredited Archive Service status. We’d particularly like to thank staff, volunteers, partners, stakeholders and funders for their contribution to this award.

The Accreditation Panel which made the award:

“…welcomed this impressive application from a reflective, committed service, which has demonstrably used Accreditation to improve since its first award.

The Panel particularly commended the volunteer programme which shows

great thought and care for their volunteers. They also welcomed the impressive audience understanding work across multiple types of stakeholders…. They were delighted to see Gloucestershire Archives thriving and continuing to develop to meet the needs of the communities of Gloucestershire.”

The scheme is run by The National Archives and involves assessment against a rigorous quality standard set for public and private sector archives in the UK.

To find out more about accreditation visit

Volunteer and Customer Surveys – Why Do We Do Them?

Each year, we hold an annual volunteer survey, and a separate customer survey. We always welcome feedback – whether suggestions, complaints or compliments – and try our best to respond constructively to these. We already have a very active customer focus group – the Heritage Hub User Group – and they hold meetings once a quarter, to discuss these very issues. And we’re thinking of setting up a similar focus group specifically for young people, so we can consider and learn about their needs.

So why do we hold volunteer and customer surveys? Well, we see it as part of our responsibility, to gather feedback. It’s part of what we say we will do. And it reflects our commitment to learning from you, meeting the needs of our Heritage Hub community and, most importantly, as a means of gauging how well we are doing!

This need for feedback came to the fore during the 2020-2021 pandemic. We started working in a very different way, using online platforms to deliver outreach, for example. Lots of us got involved in film-making, or giving talks online, and we invited feedback on these films. This feedback is so valuable, because it helps us to improve what we do. It also, we hope, offers you some investment in what we do – you are, after all, part of the Heritage Hub, you are all stakeholders in helping us promote heritage, and offer the best possible service we can.

In today’s world it is not good enough to provide a service, any service in any sector, and be complacent. We have to know that people are happy with what we do and how we do it. If people are unhappy, they can quickly influence others through, for example, social media. We’d far rather put things right before the issue snowballs.

But above all, we want to interact with our customers and volunteers, it is what keeps us relevant. And customers can tell us all sorts of things – about access, the ease of use of our online catalogue, the customer service experience, the quality of what we do, the friendliness of the welcome they receive at the Heritage Hub – which we might otherwise be unaware of. Volunteers, too, can tell us very useful information about exactly what it is they get from volunteering. Such information (always anonymous) can help us with very practical things like funding bids. It can inform policies, or make us reconsider the way in which we deliver our service.

So, if we ask you to complete a volunteer or customer survey, please do participate. You will be helping us in more ways than you can imagine!

Sally Middleton – Community Heritage Development Manager

Archive management system update

We’ve been working hard at Gloucestershire Archives over lockdown to re-procure our archive management system. This is a key IT system for us here and enables us to have intellectual control over all our collections. It also publishes details of our holdings on the web.

We’ve been using the same system (CALM by Axiell) for nearly 20 years so the new system, (Epexio by Metadatis) will be a big change for us. One of the key reasons for making this change is to improve the experience our customers have of using the online catalogue which will be launching later in the Spring.

If you’re interested in helping us test the new system please drop us a line at


Community garden update

After the disappointment of not being able to welcome anyone in to the new community garden during 2020 – the first spring and summer it would have been completely planted up and accessible to the community – we hope to welcome people into it once we come out of lockdown. In the meantime, Heritage Hub staff and volunteers have been working hard to make sure everything looks as good as it can be ready for the summer.

Jonathan, a local volunteer, was busy over the autumn last year doing weeding and cutting back of the flowers and herbs in our formal borders by the Dunrossil Centre. As a result, these are all starting to grow back and we think they will look fantastic in a few weeks’ time. We are excited to welcome community garden volunteers soon as well, when restrictions allow.

The winter border really came into its own in February and March this year, with hellebores, snowdrops and daffodils all coming into flower within a few weeks of each other. Yellow daffodils have also been flowering next to the car park outside the Family History Centre, and in the formal borders. Spring is definitely springing!


In mid March, Greenfields returned to dig a wildlife pond for us. This was very exciting as it had been a long time in the planning and it was great to see it finally happening. They also dug out all the grass from the new pond to the bee area so that we can sow wildflower seeds, which was very helpful as the grass would have taken ages to dig out by hand. The pond has now been planted up and looks great. Hopefully we’ll get some wildlife taking an interest in it soon!


The bees are doing well coming into spring having survived the cold winter. We now have three hives – just the one colony but we’re hoping to expand this into at least two by the end of the year. At the time of writing it is sunny and we’ve been watching the bees go foraging in all directions which has been wonderful (and a relief!) to see.

Finally, the interpretation panels for the garden were installed on 24th March by Typecraft. This was a wonderful joint effort and I think we can all agree they look amazing. The panels take the garden visitor past the Dunrossil Centre and all the way up the garden, explaining the history of the site, and enhancing our offer to visitors on the city’s heritage trail.

Ally McConnell - March 2021

Local History

The Cathedral Quarter High Street Heritage Action Zone

Working with local people and partners, the Cathedral Quarter project will help to breathe new life into Westgate Street which is rich in heritage and full of potential, making it more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.

For more information and how to get involved visit


The Victoria County History

Sadly we begin this update by recording the death of former County Editor, John Jurica, on 24 December 2020, from covid-19.  John worked on Victoria County History research and was based at Gloucestershire Archives between 1973 and 2010. 

VCH colleague Simon Draper pays tribute in the latest VCH newsletter (January 2021).

Red Book news

Eleven Red Book volumes have been published. Three volumes are currently in preparation.

  • Gloucestershire vol. XIV - Yate and District
  • Gloucestershire vol. XV - Cheltenham and District
  • Gloucestershire vol. XVI - Cirencester and District

Work towards one of these volumes, XV (Cheltenham and District) has produced a VCH ShortCheltenham before the Spa (2018).

Ten volumes are available free, open-access on British History Online  For full access to all volumes, check your local library catalogue or your local archive. 

The latest Newsletter (14, January 2021) contains information including an update from Volume 14 showing West Littleton’s Nottinghamshire connection.

Read the full issue here

Gloucestershire Local History Association

GLHA logo

Dates for your Diary update March 2021

Forum Meetings for 2021

We plan to continue our usual pattern of quarterly Forum meetings during 2021, either by Zoom or – when circumstances permit – by ‘in the room’ meetings (venue to be confirmed). The dates of our future 2021 Forums are:

Thursday, 17th June 7pm: – AGM, followed by a talk by Dr Andy Moir (Gloucestershire Building Recording Group) about the NLHF-funded Gloucestershire Dendrochronology Project to tree-ring date historic buildings in Gloucester, Newent and Tewkesbury.

Thursday, 2nd September 7pm: Den Bannister (Slimbridge Local History Society), ‘Slimbridge Remembers and the story of the wire soldiers’ (talk postponed from June 2020).

Monday, 6th December 2pm: Jonathan Holt, ‘The Place of Architectural Follies and Garden Buildings in the History of Gloucestershire’, followed (we hope!) by seasonal refreshments.

We would welcome suggestions for speakers and topics for discussion at future Forums.


Monday April 19th at 7.30 pm via Zoom Ray Wilson will talk about Sharpness Docks.

Visit the GSIA website for the registration link

Local History Day (the History of Education in Gloucestershire)

To be rearranged provisionally Spring 2022

Summer Afternoon Meetings

Sunday 27th June 2021 - Nailsworth. Details and a booking form will be sent in due course.

Saturday 25th June 2022 - Cheltenham

2023 - Blockley

Summer walk 2021

Monday 24th May at 6.30 pm. Tewkesbury Railway Walk with John Dixon.

Booking details will be sent in April.


Local SocietiesTalks List and Visits and Tours List.

On hold until things get back to normal.

For more information visit

A new book about Gloucestershire

Three hundred years ago, in 1721, the 'Dutch engraver' Johannes Kip (or John Kip, his anglicised name) dropped down dead in St John’s Street, Westminster, bringing to a sudden end his career in England of more than thirty years as a renowned printmaker.

Gloucestershire owes him a special commemoration in 2021 as the draughtsman and also engraver of sixty-four prints commissioned in the early eighteenth century by Sir Robert Atkyns for The Ancient and Present State of Glostershire.

This book contains high-quality reproductions of all the engravings with a short commentary on each, and has pointers to the details and to the history of the house and the family, including many colour and black and white illustrations.

It offers a remarkable contribution to the history of the county, to knowledge of the gardens, which in many cases still reflect Kip’s engravings, to the unique history of many of the houses which survive three hundred years later, and to the riches of the Gloucestershire countryside.

Johannes Kip: The Gloucestershire Engravings, edited by Dr Anthea Jones, is published in March 2021 with a foreword by Dr Nicholas Kingsley.

It is published by Hobnob Press  in association with Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust

Editors' note:  A copy of this book is also available for consultation at Gloucestershire Archives.  Congratulations to Dr Anthea Jones on this latest edition which builds on the significant contribution she has already made to research in Gloucestershire through her work on the Lloyd George Land Survey, Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust documentary research, Victoria County History, Gloucestershire Archives and many more organisations too.   We are also pleased to feature it here as it demonstrates a good collaboration with Victoria County History staff and volunteers, and current and former Gloucestershire Archives staff and researchers, and we are always keen to further encourage the 'hubness of the Hub'! 

Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society

The founders of BGAS back in 1876 wanted to create a learned society where interested individuals from any walk of life could share knowledge and discoveries about all aspects of the past, in Bristol and Gloucestershire.

Today, while we tend to divide ‘the past’ into either history or archaeology, the two disciplines have always overlapped and we still aim to welcome anyone with a deep interest in either field.

Times change, and BGAS is changing too. The redesigned website, launched in 2021, is our latest step along the path. We anticipate continued development over the coming months, as further information resources and facilities are added.

For more information visit

To read the latest BGAS newsletter click here

Family History

News from Gloucestershire Family History Society

We are pleased to announce our involvement in the Westgate Street Heritage Action Zone (Cathedral Quarter) project. Volunteers are researching the social history of the properties the project has identified for restoration. Who lived in the properties? How has the usage of the properties changed over the decades? What events took place there? The findings should provide an interesting ‘street through time’ chronicle, and we look forward to presenting the results of our research as the project progresses and at its conclusion in 2023. For more information read the article about the project in the Local History section.

We also look forward to contributing to the Family History Federation’s ‘Really Useful Family History Show’ on 10 April, with two of our volunteers taking a ‘booth’ to offer help and advice ‘virtually’ to attendees of the event. This is an exciting opportunity for GFHS and builds on the popular 'Help Desk' service which we’ve continued to provide throughout the pandemic.

We are also offering our first talk via Zoom, to members of the Society, when Rose Hewlett will be giving a presentation on Village Records in Family History. This will be on 14 April, 7.30pm.

Frampton-on-Severn parish register reproduced with the permission of Gloucestershire Archives

Further details can be found on our website,

Friends of Gloucestershire Archives

Geoff North

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Geoff  North on 17 January 2021 from Covid-19.  Geoff was a member of the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives for many years and became a trustee in October 2019.   We will miss his loyalty, friendship and wise counsel. 

Geoff, and his late wife Elaine, were stalwarts of the Cheltenham Local History Society and the annual Gloucestershire Local History Association’s History Day, noted for their research,  displays and second-hand local history bookstalls.  Geoff was a regular visitor to Gloucestershire Archives and a leading expert on WW1 Voluntary Aid Detachment hospitals – he had a file on every one in the county, related photographs and artefacts and gave excellent talks on this topic and others.  He and Elaine collected Gloucestershire postcards and original material relating to the Cheltenham area, which Geoff and Steve Blake had been sorting and depositing at Gloucestershire Archives.   

He will be greatly missed by us all.    

Prestbury Fields and Hill

The Friends of Gloucestershire Archives, together with generous contributions from both Cheltenham and Prestbury Local History Societies have successfully bid at auction for a bound volume containing a number of maps of ‘Prestbury Fields and Hill’ as allotted by an inclosure act of 1731.

Gloucestershire Archives doesn’t hold an official copy of the Inclosure map or award for Prestbury, and although several copies of the act and award can be found in our collections we don’t have any corresponding maps.

We’re very grateful for the support of all three organisations to enable this document to be permanently preserved and made available to researchers.



Passport to the Past: Victorian School Experience

It’s dressing up day in our Passport to the Past after (home) school club. Do your best to find a flat cap, scruffy shirt, braces and shorts, or black skirt, frilly white top a bow for your hair as you travel back in time to an interactive Victorian classroom. And remember, bring an apple for your teacher!

Wednesday 7 April, 4 - 5pm. Free of charge. 


Join Miss Strict and Miss Honey as they tell you to listen up, stop talking and recite your times tables. Just Kidding, this is going to be fun – we promise!

  • How were lessons different in the Victorian days?
  • Were girls treated the same as boys?
  • What happened if you were naughty in class?
  • Were pens and pencils invented yet?

Find out the answers to these and many more questions in these interactive Zoom sessions where you’ll meet other people, hear from experts and enjoy fun activities you can either do during the club, or in your own time afterwards.

If you are aged 6 – 13 and enjoy history and what it can tell us about today’s world, don’t miss this monthly online after school club! You’ll meet, talk to, and have lots of real time fun as experienced session leaders from Gloucestershire Archives as they lead you on an hour-long adventure into the past.

To book your place visit Gloucestershire Archives website.

Free Wild Spring Adventure Event

Join the team at Robinswood Hill for a Spring family celebration.

Collect your self-guided activity packs and explore the Hill and it's wildlife.

  • Take part in an egg-themed nature trail, spot some wildlife and collect your prize.
  • Enter our competition, and enjoy tasty treats from our cafe.

Book your timed slot on one of the three event days: Wednesday 7th April, Tuesday 13th April, and Thursday 15th April 2021.

This event will follow Covid-19 safety procedures, therefore you must book a ticket if youplan to attend. To aid social distancing we will have a limited number of tickets each hour.

To book, visit the Events page on our website:

This event launches our new Return to the Hill project at Robinswood Hill. Throughout the next couple of years we will be running a range of events and activities, keep an eye on our website or search for our 'Return to the Hill' Group on Facebook for more details.

Museum sets out re-opening roadmap to recovery...

The Museum of Gloucester and The Tourist Information Centre (TIC) are delighted to announce their roadmap to re-opening and recovery, starting with the museum shop, café and the TIC re-opening on 13 April 2021. They will then look forward to welcoming visitors back to the wider museum (subject to government guidance) on 18 May 2021.

To also better adapt to the needs of their audiences and visitors, the flagship cultural venue is also changing their opening days to Tuesday to Sunday. Opening hours will also become seasonal, with the following taking full effect from May...

New opening hours:

  • Mid-February- October: Museum and TIC | 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday and 11-4pm on Sundays
  • November-Mid-February: Museum and TIC | 10am-4pm, Tuesday-Saturday and 11-3pm on Sundays

All front-of-house staff are committed to following government guidance in terms of distancing/numbers in the TIC, shop and café. To celebrate this milestone achievement in re-opening, for the whole of April, they are also offering one free take-out hot drink with every gift shop purchase of over £5...

The news that the Museum and TIC can re-open couldn’t have come at a better time as the Museum’s Engagement team are busy planning for their summer family-friendly exhibition and programme, The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists! The Museum and Tourist Information Centre cannot wait to welcome visitors back!

Cllr Steve Morgan, cabinet member for Culture said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to announce a roadmap for the Museum of Gloucester and the Tourist Information Centre re-opening; 2020 and 2021 so far, have placed immense strain on the cultural sector and its visitors. I have no doubt that whilst following strict government guidelines, the museum, shop, café and TIC can open safely and successfully and provide visitors with the quality service and experiences that they have grown to know and love within our fabulous heritage city”.

You can find out more about our re-opening plans by continuing to check our website at

Training events - How to find out about buildings and institutions no longer there

Our first session of training events, focuses on Gloucester’s lost schools and how we can find out about them.

Wednesday 14 April, 1 - 2pm. Free of charge

You'll explore a wide range of school records from the Archives' collections, looking at why they exist and importantly, what they can tell us about the buildings and institutions that are no longer there. You’ll then watch a digital story about Gloucester’s lost schools, followed by a live question and answer session with the trainer . By the end of the session, you will have gained an understanding of how records in the Archives can be used to inform our understanding of the past.

Gloucestershire Archives announce a new programme of themed training events, where people can learn and develop archive- related skills connected to a specially selected theme.

Delivered by expert staff, these sessions are designed to help you get the most out of the Archives’ collections and to learn and develop the skills to look after your own.

To book your place visit Gloucestershire Archives website

Spring Weekend


Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 April. Events running throughout the weekend.

Enjoy City Voices talks in the morning, take part in a singing workshop at noon, explore Gloucester's buildings virtually in the afternoon and hear from experts in our evening Blackfriars Talks

Experience a range of incredible speakers including Horrible Histories expert Greg Jenner discussing history, scandal and celebrity with historian and festival president Janina Ramirez; Katja Hoyer, author of Blood and Iron one of the most acclaimed history books to be published this year; Vanley Burke, the iconic photographer widely acknowledged as the godfather of Black British photography, insightful local archaeologist Andrew Armstrong and more.

Click on each link to find out more and book your ticket

17 April, 10am - Margaret of Anjou!  Gloucester Museum & Andrew Armstrong

17 April, 12pm - HUM: Sing it Back On:song

17 April, 1pm -  Dulverton House: A 13th Century Infirmary transformed for 21st Century learning

17 April, 2pm - Cathedral Library Tour  Gloucester Cathedral

17 April, 4pm - Vanley Burke  Interviewed by Rider Shafique

17 April, 6pm - Greg Jenner & Janina Ramirez  Dead Famous: A History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen

17 April, 8pm - Tim Marshall  The Power of Geography

18 April, 10am - You called we came, Diverse City  All Nations Community Centre

18 April, 12pm - Cathedral 360 tours Gloucester Cathedral

18 April, 1pm - Gloucester Heritage Open Days film

18 April, 2pm - Take a Trip to DeCrypt, Discover DeCrypt

18 April, 4pm - Katja Hoyer  Blood and Iron: Germany 1871-1918

18 April, 6pm - Robert Pike Silent Village: Life and Death in Occupied France

18 April, 8pm -  The Blackfriars Talks: 2020 Highlights     

For more information visit

Secrets Revealed: Victorian School Records

Belgravia, Downton Abbey, Larkrise to Candleford, the list goes on, as the escape into the Victorian era becomes ever more popular. April’s Secrets Revealed Seminar follows the trend as Gloucestershire Archives reveal the secrets of Victorian School Records.

Wednesday 28 April, 1 - 2pm. Free of charge.


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.

To book your place visit Gloucestershire Archives website.

Passport to the Past: Read all about it!

Read all about it! Read all about it!

Wednesday 5 May, 4 - 5pm. Free of charge.


Ever wanted to be a famous journalist for a top newspaper? Well now you can at the latest Passport to the Past event at Gloucestershire Archives. In this free Zoom session, you’ll explore the stories from local newspapers which contain local and national stories that are at times tragic, informative and sometimes even funny! You’ll find out what it takes to be a top journalist and will be given the skills you need to write your very own newspaper article.

Today our newspapers are full of headlines supporting the NHS, celebrating the successes of the Coronavirus vaccination, the relaxation of social distancing, and how school children just like you are finding things as they return to school. Can you imagine what the headlines would have been in 1945, 1914, 1912, 1838 or 1066?

Find out the answers to these and many more questions in these interactive Zoom sessions where you’ll meet other people, hear from experts and enjoy fun activities you can either do during the club, or in your own time afterwards.

If you are aged 6 – 13 and enjoy history and what it can tell us about today’s world, don’t miss this monthly online after school club! You’ll meet, talk to, and have lots of real time fun as experienced session leaders from Gloucestershire Archives as they lead you on an hour-long adventure into the past.

To book your place visit the Gloucestershire Archives website

Secrets Revealed: Newspapers

Supporting the NHS. Celebrating the success of the Coronavirus vaccine, the ease of social distancing and sporting results are the headline that occupy our newspapers today. But what stories dominated the newspapers of the past?

Wednesday 26 May, 1pm – 2pm. Free of charge

In today’s world, newspapers have taken a backseat as we flick from podcasts to social media, blogs, Google Alerts. But when newspapers were relied upon as the main source of communications, people not only wanted the news about international and national events – such as politics and wars – but also local news; corn prices, crimes, sailing times and local government. On top of this the local classifieds were huge and vitally important to the local economy.

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.

To book your ticket visit Gloucestershire Archives website

Children: Not Seen and Not Heard

Our theme for June’s outreach events is ‘unheard voices’ and we are thinking about the people who’s stories often haven’t made it into the history books – women, poor people, minority groups and…..children.

Wednesday 2 June, 4 - 5pm. Free of charge

 copyright Gloucester Citizen

Our Passport to the Past event on 2nd June wants to give children the chance to tell their stories and talk about the things that are important to them. We’ll collect these stories into the archives so that future generations can see first-hand accounts from children about their lives. We will also be looking into the archives for some of the rare documents which tell us about what it was like to grow up in Gloucestershire in the past.’

Booking details available soon. Visit the Gloucestershire Archives website.

Secrets Revealed: Life in Gloucester’s Asylums

“Ever wondered what life was like for the thousands of patients who spent time in Gloucester’s asylums?

Wednesday 23 June, 1 - 2pm, Free of charge

     Barnwood House Hospital

Hear about the history of these institutions, and about some of the patients who may have spent decades in the city’s asylums. Join us for an in-depth talk all about “Life in Gloucester’s Asylums”, looking at the case notes of some of the Victorian and Edwardian patients, whose unheard voices will be represented in this exciting online talk.

We will explore the history of the asylums, from when the very first one opened in 1823, right through the following few decades, to what day-to-day life was like inside them. Join us for this whistle stop tour of the heritage and history of mental health in Gloucester, and learn some surprising facts along the way. Did you know, for example, that the Royal College of Psychiatrists was founded, in the early nineteenth century, at a meeting here in Gloucester?

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.

To book your place visit Gloucestershire Archives website



Secrets Revealed: The Census


If you missed the live digital zoom event about the census delivered by Gloucestershire Archives very own John Putley no worries because you can watch it here now!

Secrets Revealed: The Census

In connection with the 2021 National Census, Secrets Revealed: The Census unlocks the history of the first ever Census, dispels the myth of the most famous Census of all time connected to the birth of Jesus, and provides more detail and information about the Census of today.

Easy to digest and laced with humour this online seminar is full of headline facts, extra information and deeper context, to ensure that those both those new to history hunting or bona fide history buffs will come away having learned something new and inspired to find out more in their own time afterwards.


South Gloucestershire

News from South Gloucestershire

Dyrham Park

Curator’s Choice. Six must-sees at Dyrham Park.

Rupert Goulding, Lead Curator, South West Region. Rupert has been curator for Dyrham Park for over a decade and his selection of must see places and objects offer unexpected perspectives.

For information see here

Dyrham Park’s Colonial Connections

At Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire, connections to empire run deep in the activities of three families: the Wynters, the Poveys and the Blathwayts. Together, they take us through 100 years of British imperial ambitions, from exploration and the start of the transatlantic slave trade, to the foundations of a colonial empire.

Thomas Povey, c.1657, by John Michael Wright. This is one of two portraits of Povey by Wright at Dyrham Park.

For more information, see here

£7.5m boost for Kingswood High Street

Our work to rejuvenate Kingswood High Street through the Love our High Streets programme has been given a £7.5m boost by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

The provisional investment is subject to Government funding being secured, but alongside our own £5m investment will help the Council progress property acquisitions and first phase redevelopment, including the restoration of the Whitfield Tabernacle, the pedestrianisation of Regent Street and public realm enhancement.

Cllr Toby Savage, Leader of the Council, said: “Together with the private sector and the community, we will transform the heart of Kingswood, create opportunities for a new family and evening economy in the area and inspire further public and private sector investment into Kingswood.”

Aerospace Bristol News

Aerospace Bristol have a £30,000 Arts Council England grant for a Digital Aerospace Lives Project

Bristol receives £30,000 Art Fund grant for Aerospace Lives project

The platform will enhance the Aerospace Bristol visitor experience, using the museum’s archive materials to reveal new insights into the historic Filton site

For further information, see here:

Also, Aerospace Bristol recommends tuning in to BBC Radio 4 Extra Out of this World: The Colin Pillinger Story available on iPlayer.

Yate and District Heritage Centre is holding a series on online talks.  For more information and booking, see here


e-update 28 February 2021 contains lots of news and information.

Read the full issue here

Jane Marley, Museums and Heritage Officer, South Gloucestershire Council

Jackie Sims, local historian

As well as being the foremost researcher and publiciser of local Filton History from the late 1990s,

Jackie was deeply involved in the community development group, ‘Filton People’,

 In 1994 Stan and Jackie Sims conceived the idea of a group which would identify the Filton community’s social, environmental and recreational needs, and then promote and encourage community solutions. To this end a steering group was set up and a questionnaire was sent out to every household. The subsequent Filton Profile Report was then sent to Filton and South Gloucestershire councillors, and a copy lodged with the local Filton Library. With encouragement and funding from Filton Town Council and South Gloucestershire Council the issues of local transport, the needs of older people and of children and young people, and of the environment were addressed. The name was changed to Filton People and continued until 2008 when the work was taken over by the Southern Brooks Community Development group.

Throughout this period both Stan and Jackie Sims led the research, funding-provision and administration and were the source of many of the innovative ideas.

During this period Jackie Sims was also researching Filton’s history. Beginning with the listing of the aviation headquarters, Filton House (now Pegasus House), she worked to promote and record the local history of the community.

In 1999 she obtained a Millenium grant of £23,000 for a project working with three classes of local schoolchildren to discover Filton’s rich history. This kicked off a series of oral history interviews, with the result that eventually twelve books of local memories were published, one nationally. Where possible these were illustrated and throughout Jackie’s editorial leadership was evident.

The largest oral project was for the BAC Centenary. The stories of workers and ex-employees of both Filton’s local aviation industries were recorded, and the resulting book contained about seventy insights on many aspects of aeroplane manufacture including social, training and wartime conditions. Jackie had overall editorial leadership and the resulting published interview texts were praised by the participants themselves.

‘Your book edit was very smooth. It is excellent how it’s been done’.

 Jackie worked on her own projects. Beginning by obtaining the listing of the aviation headquarters, Filton House (now Pegasus House), she researched subjects such as the local Civil Defence, the aviation factory’s development of prefabricated housing, the Shield family’s Laundry and other projects.

During the whole period of Filton Community History’s work Jackie was tireless in encouraging the committee, directing the progress and continuing her own research projects. All this material has been snapped up by Gloucestershire Archives, who now hold the bulk of the group’s work.

Jane Tozer, February 3.2021


Gloucestershire Police Archives

What a year it has been

As the end seems to be in sight the police volunteers have been working at home producing a phenomenal amount of information for the archives while waiting patiently to be vaccinated.

Queries still come in as people have more time on their hands and there has been a flurry of activity as the talks that were cancelled over the last year are rescheduled. 180 years of the Gloucestershire Constabulary has now become 181 ½ years of the Gloucestershire Constabulary which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

We had 143 queries last year which is not bad considering that usually lots of our queries come through face to face events. This year at the time of writing we have had 33 queries ranging from -

I bought this on an internet site do you know who PC 263 is,

If you want to know the answer visit

I own this motorbike which used to belong to Gloucestershire Constabulary can you tell me about it,


I live in an ex police station do you know anything about the history of it? (This photograph was taken in what is now the garden)

It has certainly kept us busy during the pandemic but I know that we are all looking forward to meeting up safely with friends and colleagues.

We are still working if you have any queries or if you would like to send us good quality JPG scans of police related photographs you can contact us

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can reopen the offices to visitors.

Sue Webb, Police Archive Officer.

Dr Tim Brain's research

For those interested in police history, something to look out for in a month or two is an article on Gloucestershire Constabulary by former Chief Constable, Dr Tim Brain

Gloucestershire Archives - D8746-1

Those of us hearing his talk in the Dunrossil Centre during the 2019 History Festival will be delighted to see that a fully researched and footnoted article is shortly to be published by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society in their Transactions: ‘“For the Preservation of the Peace”: The foundation and early years of the Gloucestershire Constabulary’.   

The article examines which county police force can claim to be the oldest in the UK.  Does Wiltshire retain the title, is Gloucestershire in with a shout, or is there another contender?   

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