In Memoriam - Robert Pearson 1954-2013

on Thursday, 02 January 2014.

I am sure regular users of the History Centre will be sad to learn of the death from cancer on 23 December 2013 of our colleague and dear friend, Robert Pearson.

Robert has been connected with the archive service for over 10 years, beginning as a volunteer at Trowbridge, then starting paid work in October 2003 as a part-time records assistant helping the public with enquiries. He developed a particular interest in and expertise in police and military records, as well as assisting in a private capacity in helping to compile the Church of England Clergy Database.

In 2008 he gained a post-graduate qualification in Archive Administration through distance learning with the University College Wales, at Aberystwyth, and in the same year he began a one day a week secondment as an archivist. In 2011 he became full-time project archivist for the Radnor project, cataloguing the papers of the Earls of Radnor of Longford Castle, although illness forced him to reduce his hours in 2012. It is planned to finish the catalogue in 2014, which Robert would have been very pleased to see. (If anyone has any queries about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Robert was a kind, generous and exceptionally positive person who bore his illness with enormous courage and good humour. He will be very much missed.

Robert’s family have asked for donations to Shaftesbury Hospital or Cancer research UK, rather than flowers. He will be having a woodland burial in Dorset later this month.
Claire Skinner

'Ganderflanking' with WSHC Conservator

on Thursday, 05 December 2013.

Our Conservator Mervin has been in the spotlight with the old Wiltshire word 'ganderflanking' after recent interviews on BBC Radio. Find out about the new campaign to bring it out from obscurity at... Ganderflanking With Eminem

Wiltshire's SEEME film screened at British Film Institute

on Wednesday, 06 November 2013.

One of the animated films created by local school children for the SEEME project was screened in London on Saturday. It had been shortlisted in a national competition for young film-makers the Kids for Kids film festival. The film was called First Impressions and animated audio clips of local black elders interviewed for the SEEME black history archive. In the film, they reflect on their first impressions of the UK.

The young people from Holbrook Primary school illustrated the accounts by creating animations using a graphics tablet, even turning the speakers into animated characters. Project co-ordinator Rose Young, Headteacher of Holbrook Primary school, Mr Whitewick and one of the students involved in the filming made the journey to London’s Southbank for the screening and awards ceremony. Whilst our film didn’t win an award, we were delighted to be shortlisted in a year of stiff competition and to be commended by the organisers for a “beautiful, reflective piece of film-making”.

The Holbrook students thoroughly enjoyed making the film, working with the film maker Jamie McDine and meeting members of the local black community. They said:

“Using the technology was exciting.  We saw our own pictures come to life on the screen”.

“Some of the stories were shocking so our film is important.  It will make people think about how they treat other people” 

You can see the film and those made by students at Clarendon Academy and Matravers School on this website

Open Day success at the History Centre

on Friday, 11 October 2013.

Knights were shot with longbows, bayonets were fixed on rifles, entrenching spades were used as weapons and the archaeologists dressed to kill at this year’s Wiltshire at War event. Visitors were enthralled as staff and our special guests shared their knowledge of the martial history of the county.


From the Iron Age to the First World War the lives of soldiers, the impact on the county and the many documents, objects and monuments that they left behind were here for visitors to see. The archaeologists gave visitors an overview of 2000 years of the county’s history from Iron Age hill forts, through medieval castles to First World War airfields. With costumes to match and an impressive array of weaponry they fascinated visitors with their knowledge of the archaeology. 

The conservation labs were busy, with conservators hard at work showing visitors how they conserve archaeology and museum objects every day. They were joined by an Anglo-Saxon re-enactor who greeted visitors in Anglo-Saxon and displayed an impressive knowledge of the period, partly gained through making replica weapons and other objects. A genuine Anglo-Saxon sword, conserved in the labs, was also on display.

More Wiltshire Records Online

on Thursday, 27 June 2013.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) have successfully secured a grant of £585,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help catalogue, conserve and digitise materials from six archives nationwide. These include the Alfred Williams collection owned by Swindon Borough Council and held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. The project, which is also being supported by the National Folk Music Fund, will enable free public access to over 58,000 digital images through a new web portal. The site is now fully operational and can be viewed at

The ‘Full English’ project will bring together Alfred Williams’ material together with the collections of Harry Albion, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, and Ralph Vaughan Williams for the first time, creating the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world. The new portal will cross-refer to the existing Wiltshire folk arts website which contains transcripts by Chris Wildridge of many folk songs collected by Williams - see:

The ‘Full English’ project will also help to increase awareness and knowledge of folk music in education by training music teachers, and through various creative educational and community projects.

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