How it all stems from... the Kilmersdon Railway

on Saturday, 09 November 2013. Posted in Photography

As part of one of our current Local Studies projects to house colour transparencies which the History Centre has been acquiring over many years, we are constantly trying to identify scenes and buildings that we hold no additional details for. This calls for a little detective work, perseverance, and sometimes even a little luck!

We are happy to welcome volunteers who kindly spend many a valuable hour with us working on various projects and collections. One such volunteer was happening by whilst I was looking at some unlocated railway photographs. He was fairly sure he recognised the railway as the Kilmesdon Railway, situated near Radstock in Somerset. With the help of our scanner to enlarge the image and were able to confirm that the set of images were indeed those of the Kilmserdon Railway.

On another occasion some volunteers from Salisbury were able to put names to the buildings contained within photographs of Salisbury. Another willing volunteer paid us a visit to help identify railway signal boxes and also gave us some helpful information leading to another two volunteers joining us to help index railway plans.

We try to make use of a myriad of local resources such as the wonderful and comprehensive Swindon Collection on flickr from the Local Studies section of Swindon Library. Their site helped us identify the Bakers Arms as being located on the Beechcroft Road in Upper Stratton.

This collaborative teamwork exists not only between colleagues here at the History Centre, but also with the volunteers who give up their time on our behalf. I hope this blog illustrates just some of the many reasons why we couldn't do without them!

Brian Shipp
Local Studies and Helpdesk Team

So, just what Do our visitors come to see?

on Tuesday, 05 November 2013. Posted in History Centre

I thought it may be of interest to take a look on your behalf at the kinds of original documents visitors order out when they visit our search rooms, to give you an idea of the wide range of requests we receive for documents each day. I chose Tuesday 22nd October at random, and got peeking!

Tenancy agreement for the stalls

Many visitors pre-order material so that it is waiting for them when they arrive (a good idea if you have a lot to look through).

One such researcher was looking at some Great Western Railway plans for the stables next to Paddington Station.

They included a tenancy agreement for stalling dated 1905 (Ref: 2515/210 Box 128) and the elevation to London Street by the Engineers Works office in 1912 (2515/403/375).

 

 

Ordered out on the day was material from the Earl of Pembroke collection (Ref: 2057) including the account of H.M. Holdsworth with the Right Honorable George Robert Charles Earl of Pembroke for the estate of Wilts for one year as to rents to Michelmas 1880 (Ref: 2057/A1/99). Estate surveys (Ref: 2057/563) and a wages book (Ref: 2057/A5/32) were also of interest, and wages books may also give the name of an ancestor who worked on the estate.

Exploring the archaeology of Wiltshire and Swindon Online

on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Posted in Archaeology

We get many enquiries about archaeological sites in Wiltshire and Swindon, from people interested in features that they have seen whilst walking, from local history societies, and from academic researchers, for example. We can search the Wiltshire and Swindon Historic Environment Record (WSHER) to pull out the details for these enquiries. The WSHER records archaeological and historic features in a database and on digital mapping, and includes sites such as hillforts, deserted settlements, pillboxes and watermills.

The Worst Journey in History

on Saturday, 19 October 2013. Posted in Military, Wiltshire People

Winston Churchill described the arctic convoys of the Second World War as the worst journeys in history; for the sailors not only had to contend with freezing conditions and the very real chance of getting stuck in the ice but also the terror of U-Boats and dive bombers. This all seems a long way from the safety of the present day and from Wiltshire – a county with no coastline. But a few weeks ago Wiltshire Council held a ceremony to honour the residents of the county who served in those convoys and who have had to wait 70 years before they were granted a service medal that recognised their particular efforts. It was a tremendous surprise, and a great honour, for those involved in organising this event to discover that there are 25 men living in Wiltshire who served in those convoys.

Life Style of Your Victorian Ancestors – Using the Census

on Tuesday, 15 October 2013. Posted in Wiltshire People

This week I’ve been changing my census lecture into a census workshop for a family history course we’re running at the History Centre. It’s reminded me how really useful the census is to local, social and economic historians, as well as to people looking for their ancestors. However if used properly you can also find information about the living conditions of past generations of your family. You really need to look at a complete parish – easy for a village but for a town you may only be able to look at two or three enumeration districts. Perhaps easier to do using the census on microfiche than on line.

Winnie the Pooh in Wiltshire

on Tuesday, 08 October 2013. Posted in Museums

As you may have see in previous blog entries we recently held our annual History Centre Open Day. This year the Conservation and Museums Advisory Service hosted an Anglo-Saxon warrior and displayed a rare seax (Anglo-Saxon knife) from Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum (link listed at the end of this entry). We also hosted a series of Wiltshire at War talks given by our friends from Chippenham Museum and The Rifles Museum in Salisbury (also see at the end of this article).

In amongst all this activity visitors on the day might have missed our small display about Winnie the Pooh in Wiltshire. Yes, there is a link between A.A. Milne’s famous bear and Wiltshire and yes it does relate to Wiltshire at War, which was the theme of our open day. The story goes…..

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