Victoria Barlow - Team Manager Conservation & Heritage
I joined the teams at the History Centre in 2010. I have spent my career working in museums as a Curator and Collections Manager. I love history, and especially historical objects, for their ability to tell stories and connect us to real people who may have led very different lives to our own.
I manage the Conservation, Museum Advisory and Archaeology services. We are responsible for supporting and developing heritage organisations in Wiltshire as well as identifying, recording and protecting Wiltshire’s archaeology. My role is to lead the teams, making sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs, setting priorities and planning for the future. I also work with other partners and colleagues from a variety of organisations to make sure that Wiltshire’s history and heritage is enjoyed by as many people as possible.
Helen Williams - Senior Conservator (Objects Conservation)
I joined the Wiltshire Conservation Service in 1998. I trained at Durham University, firstly in Archaeology and then went on to do a Masters degree in the Conservation of Historic Objects. My first role was that of Contract Conservator, working on archaeological finds from developer funded excavations. In my current post as Senior Conservator with Objects Conservation I am responsible for supporting 18 of Wiltshire's museums along with my colleague Sebastian Foxley.
My work is really varied. My day could be spent carrying out treatments on objects for display, environmental monitoring of collections, carrying out collections surveys, advising on collections care or running a training course for museum curators and volunteers. I also assist the archives conservators monitoring conditions in the archive strong rooms on a regular basis. I never know what I'll be asked to do next and that's what makes my job so interesting and enjoyable.
Sebastian Foxley - Objects Conservator
I studied conservation at the University of Lincoln. I joined the Wiltshire Conservation Service in 2007, having previously worked for museums in Glasgow and Doncaster and for the National Coal Mining Museum in Yorkshire. I have experience of working with a wide variety of materials including metals, plastics, ceramics and wood.
My job as a conservator involves cleaning and repairing objects from museum collections and advising museums in the county on how best to look after their objects. It is the variety of things that I have to work on that keeps the job interesting. I could be working on something from the 1980's in the morning and from the Iron Age in the afternoon.
Kelly Abbott - Contract Conservator
I completed a Masters degree in the Conservation of Historic Objects at the University of Lincoln. I joined the Wiltshire Conservation Service in 2005 and am currently in post as Contract Conservator. I work with archaeological units to conserve finds from developer funded excavations nationwide.
The most fascinating projects I worked on recently were the conservation and reconstruction of a Saxon bone comb and the treatment of a waterlogged wooden bowl. We also work closely with a number of museums outside of Wiltshire. I was recently asked to repair a Ming Dynasty vase before it went on display in Hong Kong and also conserved objects from the social history and decorative arts collections for Stroud Museum's exhibition 'Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?'
Beth Werrett - Project Conservator
Initially studying Art History at the Courtauld Institute, I continued to complete an MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums at UCL. I have previously worked for the Science Museum and the Wallace Collection, so have experience of working with pieces from a broad range of time periods and constructed from a variety of materials. In my current role as Project Conservator at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre I support both the Contract Conservator and the Objects Conservators. The challenge presented by switching between the conservation of archaeological and museum based material is part of the appeal of the work for me. I love that I can be working on a gas mask one day and a waterlogged, medieval leather shoe the next!
Paul Smith - Senior Archives Conservator
I have worked in local government as an archive conservator for over 38 years, 32 of which have been as Senior Conservator with the responsibility for conservation and preservation of collections held within Wiltshire and Swindon archives. The work is interesting and diverse, with paper and parchment material, maps and plans, photographs, seals and manuscript books requiring conservation treatment, some dating back to as early as the 12th century.
I like to think that the skills and knowledge I have acquired over the years have greatly improved both standards and the capability of the archive conservation sections. This, together with the stringent policies I have introduced for the storage, handling and packaging of archival material will, I hope, help to preserve Wiltshire and Swindon's wealth of written history for many generations to come.
Sarah Money - Senior Archives Conservator
I studied paper conservation at Camberwell College of Arts and I have previously worked in conservation at Flintshire Record Office.
I joined the archives conservation team in April 2012 and my role as senior conservation officer involves the preservation and repair of a range of archival materials, ensuring correct storage and environmental conditions, providing advice and delivering training sessions on how to care for archives collections.
Every item in need of repair is unique and presents different challenges, from mould damaged documents and pest nibbled papers to nasty old repairs involving sellotape. There is always something new to learn as new ideas and techniques are often introduced, this and the variety of the work keep it interesting.
What I love most about archival collections are their ability to provide such valuable information and an insight into people’s lives and the history of a place.
Mervyn Grist - Archives Conservator
I am now in my 30th year as assistant conservator in the Heritage Services within the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. My in-house training was under the supervision and tutorship of the Senior Conservator who is also still in post. As a native of Wiltshire I am passionate about safeguarding the county's history and feel privileged to have a career in which I am actively participating in the preservation of its unique archive.
Prior to conservation I pursued a joint career in Fine Art / Design and the theatre.
Rachel Gough - Conservation Assistant
I have been working for the Conservation Service since July 2007 as a Conservation Assistant. This involves general admin duties such as keeping databases up to date and sourcing and ordering the materials and equipment that the Conservators need to do their job, but does involve some practical work such as photography. Ever since my first visit to the old Record Office at Trowbridge in 1978 when I started to research my family history, I thought it would be fantastic to work in that environment but never dreamed I would have that opportunity. My patience has been rewarded and I have not been disappointed.