Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

Community Open Day

Activities and events

At Gloucestershire Archives, Clarence Row, Alvin St., Gloucester, GL1 3DW


10am Open and welcome

10.30am Behind the scenes guided tour (approx 30 minutes)

11.00am Family friendly talk by our roaming highwayman

11.00am “Treasures of the Archives” illustrated talk

11.30am Behind the scenes guided tour (approx 30 minutes)

12 noon Film show created from spoken memories (Memories of parents in WW1; the old Cattle Market; childhood memories of the Picturedrome cinema; the home front in WW2; the deep snowfall of 1947; the Severn Bridge disaster; Fielding & Platt at Christmas; the suitcase; and obtaining a hat). (approx 35 minutes).

12.30pm Behind the scenes guided tour (approx 30 minutes)

1.30pm Behind the scenes guided tour (approx 30 minutes)

2.00pm Family friendly talk by our roaming highwayman

2.00pm “Treasures of the Archives” illustrated talk

2.30pm Behind the scenes guided tour (approx 30 minutes)

3.00pm Film show created from spoken memories (Memories of father in WW1; the Three Choirs Festival; a bomb dropping in WW2; growing up during and after WW2; the 1947 floods; Fielding & Platt at Christmas; a wandering cat; an artist’s impression of Barton and Tredworth scenes; opening a shop on Barton St; and breakfast at a teashop). (approx 35 minutes). N.B. Different film to the film shown at 12pm.

4.00pm Close

And don't miss throughout the day -

  • treasure hunt and quiz for children
  • tea and cake
  • family tree drop-in sessions throughout the day with Gloucestershire Family History Society
  • conservation display with one of our conservators
  • meet the artists
  • exhibitions on
    • 100 Years of Women’s Policing
    • Dame Joan Cook and Gloucester's first grammar school
    • Heritage & Landscape of the Lower Severn (“A Forgotten Landscape” project)
  • our volunteers sign-up desk
  • selection of original items on display from Gloucestershire Archives’ collections
  • live folk music
  • a display of photographs of how the building project progressed over the last 18 months

Car parking is available free, by kind permission of Gloucester Rugby, at the club's ground in Kingsholm Road.

Gloucester History Festival 2018


Dates for your diary: 1st-16th September

The Heritage Hub features prominently in this year’s History Festival.   The whole festival runs from 1st to 16th September.   It starts with the Gloucester Day followed by the City Voices programme, 2nd-16th September.  City Voices events are organised by community groups across Gloucestershire, including many Hub partners.   The Blackfriars Talks featuring high profile historians run from Saturday 8th to Sunday 16th September.   Gloucester’s Heritage Open Days run from Thursday 14th September to Sunday 16th September and offer free entry to many of the city’s historic buildings.

On Sunday 2nd September, we invite you all to join us at the Heritage Hub in Alvin Street for our first ever community open day and tea party – drop in between 10am and 4pm.  This will be the first opportunity for most people to see the major transformation of Gloucestershire Archives.

Other highlights include:

  • Tues 4th Sept: Workshop based on estate agent’s brochures, and house history lecture by author, Melanie Backe-Hansen
  • Thurs 6th Sept: Dowty and Fielding & Platt events; the launch of a project on mental health history (Blackfriars); and documentaries on the Windrush generation (Guildhall).
  • Friday 7th Sept: Cheltenham Before the Spa – talk by John Chandler
  • Sat 8th Sept: Gloucester’s Royal Charters – exhibition and talk – come and see the results of recent work on these iconic documents at Blackfriars Priory.
  • Sun 9th Sept: How to read old handwriting workshop (Blackfriars Scriptorium).
  • Mon 10th Sept: Talk and tour at Gloucester Rugby Club
  • Tues 11th Sept: House of Memories reminiscence session (Quedgeley Library)
  • Wed 12th Sept: Scriptorium Tag – 10 lectures on Gloucestershire’s history.
  • Thurs 13th Sept: Great Gloucestershire Gargoyle walks
  • Fri 14th Sept: Lost Churches of Gloucester walks
  • Sat 15th Sept: Discoveries at the Archives – 4 bitesized talks: Gloucester Castle accounts, Dame Joan Cook, Cycling and rugby players in WW1.   Also children’s activities based on medieval castles.
  • Sun 16th Sept: Shire Hall talk and tour.
  • Three exhibitions at the Heritage Hub during the History Festival – Tales of the Vale (lower River Severn); Joan Cook, founder of Crypt grammar school; 100 years of women policing.

Full details of all these events will be available week commencing 23rd July 2018.



Palaeography                                               Scriptorium Tag                                   Meet the Highwayman

Brochures for 2018 will be available from Gloucestershire Heritage Hub and on the History Festival website.  

Booking opens week commencing 23rd July.   To book, you can call the box office on 01452 396572, visit the Gloucester Tourist Information Centre, or go online at .   Many events sold out last year so we recommend early booking.  

We look forward to seeing you and your friends and family at the History Festival. 

Thank you to our funders


In our series thanking funders, we’d like to say a big thank you this quarter to the Wolfson Foundation, They kindly awarded £31k for the fit-out of our new research room.  We’re particularly pleased with the beautiful ash furniture, especially the stylish document issue desk and matching shelves made by Smith & Choyce, local joiners from Barton Street, Gloucester.  This desk also fulfils an important security role in a room where most of us are handling unique and irreplaceable archives. 

Some of the tables have levers that enable them to function at different levels to accommodate different sizes of wheelchairs or those who may prefer to work standing up, as demonstrated above.

We’re really benefitting from the flexibility afforded by the new moveable acoustic walls with glass panels. We can now divide the research area for use by individual researchers, volunteers, and community groups as required.   The new space is all about the activities that take place within it.  Although the Heritage Hub is still in its infancy, we’ve already seen some good cross-fertilization between the different groups – which was very much part of our vision when designing the new Hub and really pleasing to see.  It was also good to show our newly refurbished facilities to fellow professionals by hosting an action learning set on e-preservation.  Another highlight for staff was helping a member of our local community prove his mother went to school in Gloucester after she arrived in the UK from Jamaica in the mid-1960s – a profound moment for all involved. 

Researchers have commented favourably on our new research room. Examples include:  research space has a really nice peaceful and studious feel; ash wood doors and furniture classy; space works really well; movable acoustic doors with glass panels are the best investment; we were really impressed with what has been achieved – bright, fresh, modern – and the colour scheme feels just right, it seems quite calming, perfect for concentration. 

With the generous assistance of the Wolfson Foundation, we feel we are well on our way to transforming our archives service, with volunteers and community groups at its heart.

Beautiful mosaic mural for the community garden

Gloucestershire Archives commissioned mosaic artists Lynda Knott and Angela Williams (TomatoJack Arts) to create a mosaic mural for the Heritage Hub community garden illustrating the history of Gloucestershire.

The resulting public artwork takes the form of five mosaic panels.


During their visits to Archives Lynda and Angela were inspired by the strong room full of old maps and photographs. This sowed the seed for the basic design idea - a representation of an unfolded map.

As well as creating significant, inspiring pieces of community artwork Archives also wanted this collaboration of art and heritage to bring together different groups of people and encourage a better understanding of each others' history and lives. We also want to engage people with the Archives’ collections in new, different and unexpected ways.

With this in mind TomatoJack’s research included visits to care homes, gathering memories and photographs and speaking to Gloucestershire Local History Association's member groups and Gloucestershire Family History Society about ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘who’ should be included. Lynda and Angela were able to collect a huge amount of information including unique photographs and memories of architecture and buildings as well as records of events and activities.

Deciding the best way to reflect this rich diverse history TomatoJack decided to use the photographs themselves within the mosaic design by firing the images collected onto durable porcelain tiles. Although the majority of the mosaic was made in their studio in Berkeley we also had the pleasure of working with them at the Archives. Local people, visitors, volunteers young people from the Aston Project and staff were able to try their hand at mosaic and help make one of the panels.

The resulting site specific artwork details in traditional mosaic ceramic tiles the varied geographical features of our large county: towns and villages, motorways and railways, rivers and canals, woodland and forest, hills and contours. Each of the five panels features a ‘Focus Point’ representing a snapshot of different aspects of Gloucestershire’s history; Notable People, Events, Places, Industry and Everyday Life.



Gloucestershire Archives is also working with three other artists and as they complete their artwork we will feature their stories in future editions.

The project has been funded by Arts Council England. If you would like more information contact Kim Kenny at


Dowty Archive update

Since starting work on the Dowty archive at the beginning of April, I have been busy recruiting volunteers for lots of different aspects of the project (cataloguing, website development and oral history training at present). I’ve been doing a survey of the extensive archive and am now going back and trying to work out a catalogue structure and look at the records in a bit more detail. Two volunteers have started the cataloguing and we have lots of people interested in taking part in oral history interviews. We have also been looking at the website and receiving training to add content – this will be launched in the autumn. On 18th June I spoke about the project at an Archives & Records Association business records seminar in York, which looked at how we are using volunteers to help understand technical records and also help interpret the archive overall.


Dowty drawing office

A page from George Dowty's notebook

If you would you like to volunteer for the Dowty project, or have any stories you would like to share about working for Dowty or any of its companies please contact Ally McConnell for more information - 



Joined up thinking

It’s getting on for 6 months since I joined the team at Gloucestershire Archives to run the EVOkE reminiscence project and in that time I’ve run sessions in libraries, community centres, memory cafes, care homes and a hospital ward.

Most recently I’ve been working in partnership with The Cheltenham Trust and Cheltenham Borough Homes on an intergenerational project in Oakley and Whaddon. My part was to use our House of Memories app and objects from Cheltenham’s The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum’s handling collection, to spark memories and stories from people living in this part of town. Other parts of the project involved a photographer, a dance practitioner, some local schoolchildren and a musician. There’s a celebration event for the whole project later in the summer which I am very much looking forward to – watch this space!


Kate O'Keefe using the House of memories app in a project with The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum

For more information contact Katherine.O' 




Building update

If you have visited Gloucestershire Archives since the newly refurbished public area re-opened you will have noticed that we are still a building site. Phase two of the build is now in full swing with the new training suite under construction. We are looking forward to the end of August when all the building work will be completed.

To accommodate the new training suite we had to say goodbye to the Frith Centre, the last remaining HORSA hut on our site. The Horsa Huts were built as temporary accommodation over 70 years ago.

For more about Horsa Huts and why they were built have a look at the recent blog post.

The Frith Centre as it was.


With the roof stripped off.


 The walls demolished and cleared.



Interesting finds were made underneath the building including a section of the original surface and some old jars and bottles.


Having demolished the Frith Centre a lot of earth had to be removed. Once the site was cleared construction of the new training suite could begin.


A very tall piling rig arrived to drill 18 metre deep holes for the pile foundations.


Once the pile foundations were in place trenches were dug and the concrete poured.


We are looking forward to the end of August when all the building work will be completed and peace and quiet will be ours once more!

We hope you can come and visit us soon.


Wordfest Book & Document Conservation Clinic

We set out our stall in the Cathedral for the ‘Wordfest’ weekend 6 to 8 July – including our new explanatory banners. One is entitled 'Caring for rare books', the other 'Agents of deterioration'.


The banners were designed to promote the care of collections in the wider sense providing a window on what we do at Gloucestershire Archives caring for collections and also encouraging people to look after their own collections.  We did this using images of real documents about Gloucestershire that we hold here (plus one of the rat used to illustrate pests as an agent of deterioration).  People were often very interested in the archives illustrated including our earliest manuscripts, such as the Winchcombe Cartulary.  

The ‘Wordfest’, a celebration of all things ‘word', was an event run by the Cathedral over the weekend of 6 to 8 July.  Billed as 'an amazing weekend of talks, poetry, music, comedy, storytelling, crafts and much more', they hope to turn it into a regular event.  As well as talking to people about caring for their own treasured books and documents, we were able to talk about the new Heritage Hub. 

On Friday and Saturday, we were in the Chapter House, and on Sunday the Cloisters (also known to many as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), so we are now claiming to have held  a Heritage Hub event at Hogwarts!

We met many interested and interesting visitors including a calligrapher who is keen to use historical examples from our collections to inform her work and that of her students; a local man who went to school in Hucclecote and used to play football in the empty warehouses at the docks, he has a collection of photographs of before the area was re-developed; and a man from China who was very interested in the paper samples we took along as his wife imports western papers into China.  Other distinguished visitors included a County Archivist (Heather Forbes), an ex County Archivist (David Smith), and a Cathedral Archivist (Rebecca Phillips).  We enjoyed meeting and talking to everyone especially the children puzzling over the piece of parchment Rachel gave them to identify (the Harry Potter connection was useful again here).

Ann Attwood - Collections Care Development Officer

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