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Community archives update, 28/08/2015

August 28, 2015

What a wonderful Archive Ambassador training day we had this week. A number of those attending represented new groups or those about to embark on a new project and this was reflected in the enthusiastic response to the sessions. We hope to keep tabs on their progress and it will be rewarding to see the ways in which they use the knowledge they have gained. Those filling in our evaluation forms gave us an overall average rating of 4.7 out of 5 and from speaking to people and reading their comments it was clear the group had a great day with everyone gaining new knowledge and very high ratings for those finding it Interesting, Useful, Enjoyable and Inspiring.
Specific comments included:-
“All helpful and enjoyable”
“Thank you very much for the excellent day”
“Very good day. All of interest.”
“Both courses I’ve been on so far were excellent. Very impressed.”
“Thank you for a very interesting and informative day (and for the excellent refreshments).”

One of the groups represented at the training was Hambledon Local History Group who are celebrating their 50th anniversary with an oral history project (they plan to interview 50 people who have lived in Hambledon for over 50 years) and related events one of which we are going to attend on Friday 25 September. Further details to follow.
Swanmore local history exhibition
In that same week I’m hoping to visit Swanmore Village Archive which we have worked with on a number of different projects over the years. Swanmore have taken us up on our offer to make available exhibition space in the Record Office foyer and/or top floor landing to display exhibitions produced by groups from across the county. The intention is to show material produced by the group from Jan-Mar 2016.

Don’t forget the Family History for Beginners workshop we’re running on 12 September at The New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst. Also we will have an exhibition and talk at the Petersfield Library Family and Local History Fair on 26 September.

Community archives update, 18/08/2015

August 18, 2015

We’re looking forward to next weeks Archive Ambassador training day here at Hampshire Record Office. Fully booked yet again, it’s wonderful that we still have interest and enthusiasm for these events after several years of running them. For those unfamiliar, the training days include sessions on cataloguing archive collections, the conservation and preservation of archives, digital archives and oral history recording. It is our attempt to train up individuals from across the county in the best practices of archival care, to help them with specific projects such as caring for a village, society or personal archive collection and to encourage them to act as an ambassador in their local community, passing on knowledge to others, encouraging the deposit of records and making sure material kept locally is looked after appropriately to ensure long term preservation.

A repeat session has been scheduled for 11 November 2015 and still has a few places remaining although if you’re interested it would be worth booking your spot sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment. For more information go to

Community archives update, 07/08/2015

August 7, 2015

Last week’s oral history training with members of the Discovering Lepe’s Cold War History project was a great success. Archivist David Rymill drew on his extensive personal experiences of undertaking dozens of oral history interviews over the years to give an enthralling talk on the benefits and uniqueness of oral history as well as useful practical tips and advice on the best way to go about it. The group were mostly absolute beginners so I think they found this interesting, useful and reassuring. The training then moved on to looking at the technical aspect of producing sound recordings and storing them effectively, led by me, and there was even time at the end for the group to have a go with some of the equipment Wessex Film and Sound Archive has available for loan, free of charge. This hopefully demonstrated how relatively straightforward it was to operate the recorders and calmed the fears of any technophobes in the group. They went away enthused and ready to start interviewing. The project has an event coming up at the end of the month. A Cold War Discovery Day for all the family on Thursday 27 August, from 10am to 12pm, at Lepe Country Park in the New Forest. Booking is essential. To book call 023 80 899 108 or email We look forward to seeing the project develop further over the coming months and to receiving the results of their oral history interviews for deposit in the Wessex Film and Sound Archive.
Later this month I will be meeting the leader of the Between Ourselves art and local history project relating to carnivals and other events on the village green at Milford-on-Sea over the decades. The resultant photographs and film are going to be deposited with us soon and we hope to discuss ways in which we can work together further in the future.
Other activities coming up which we’ve agreed to be involved with include a Family History for Beginners workshop on 12 September at The New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst. Then we will have an exhibition and talk at the Petersfield Library Family and Local History Fair on 26 September. I’m also hoping to attend an event in Hambledon to support their burgeoning local history group although precise details are yet to be confirmed. Watch this space for further updates.

Mark Pitchforth
Hampshire Record Office

Community archives update, 30/07/2015

July 30, 2015

Yesterday we were visited by staff from The Phoenix Theatre and Arts Centre, Bordon. Hampshire Record Office has been working with The Phoenix over the last few months on the Bordon Reflections project, offering advice on a variety of issues and having a presence at a series of related drop-in events in Bordon. The project has been successful in highlighting the colourful history of the local area and will hopefully lead to deposits of archive material. The reason for the meeting was that the group are hoping to launch a further project, now that Bordon Reflections is winding down, for which they are going to apply for HLF funding. It was therefore a very useful opportunity to discuss the potential for further joint working and share ideas on how the new venture may take shape.

Bordon station, c1900 Hampshire Record Office, 214M87/1

Bordon station, c1900
Hampshire Record Office, 214M87/1

Tomorrow we have a further visit from members of the Discovering Lepe’s Cold War History project, this time for a training session run by archivists David Rymill and Mark Pitchforth on the best way to record oral histories and demonstrating some of the equipment that can be used. Regular followers of the blog will recall that the aim of the project is to restore the Stone Point Nuclear Monitoring Post, a fascinating remnant of the Cold War that lies hidden from view at Lepe Country Park, but also to uncover the history of the site. Part of this work will involve conducting oral history interviews with local people recording their memories of Stone Point and the period of history more generally. We hope that the resultant oral history recordings will eventually be deposited with Wessex Film and Sound Archive for long term preservation.

Community archives update, 20/07/2015

July 20, 2015

Last week I attended the Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) annual conference at University College London (UCL).

The day began with a talk by historian Michael Wood on an archaeological project he had embarked on a few years ago for a BBC television series exploring the history of Britain through the eye of Kibworth, Leicestershire. To fit with the conferences theme of public engagement and volunteering he focused mainly on the involvement of local people in the project and how it had united and excited the community.

Next came volunteers from The Prefab Museum which celebrated Britain’s post war prefab houses. They had encouraged artists to use the Museum (based in a prefab) as an exhibition space for their work inspired by prefabs and had also attracted many visitors who had either lived in prefabs themselves or had relatives who had, so the site evoked a lot of fond memories. Sadly due to a fire they had been forced to close the museum but were hopeful of locating another appropriate site in the near future. In the meantime they are maintaining an online museum (

The third talk of the day took us to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies who described a very ambitious art project Threads of Time working with textile artists to create original pieces based on the archives. Artist Jojo Taylor really brought the project to life by describing her experiences of engaging with the collections and showing her work inspired by the tale of a woman accused of witchcraft being drowned and the female admissions book for the local asylum. The final result was a very eerie and affecting piece of artwork.

The morning ended with the announcement of the various CAHG award winners. I was pleased to hear that picking up the prize for best website was Ryde Social Heritage Group, Isle of Wight. Congratulations to them! During the Living Links Community Archives Project a few years ago we worked very closely with the Ryde group in setting up an Heritage Audio Trail and we’re delighted that they have gone from strength to strength since then. The site is packed full of detail and well worth a look (

The afternoon saw each award winner have chance to describe their project in more detail. The winner of Community Archive Group of the year was the Milford Street Bridge Project from Salisbury who had turned an ugly concrete underpass into a work of art based on the memories of local people. So as you drive through you can see a mural of houses and businesses which used to be in that location before the bypass was built as well as people and objects which represent some of the stories collected.

The day was completed by talks on the British Chinese Workforce Heritage Project including a film where British Chinese people of all ages described their experiences. Two members of the University of Hertfordshire Heritage Hub gave us their tips on working with community groups and engaging volunteers and a staff member and volunteer talked about the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. There was also a talk by Clare Summerskill who discussed her new play, presented by Artemis Theatre Company, Rights of Passage based on interviews with LGBT asylum seekers in the UK.

So a really wide and interesting selection of themes covered during a very interesting day.

Community archives update, 14/7/2015

July 14, 2015

Tomorrow I will again be attending the Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) annual conference at University College London (UCL). CAHG is a national group for community archives and their supporters which aims to encourage wider development of and participation in community archive and heritage initiatives. The conference always includes an interesting and enjoyable range of speakers, highlighting a variety of community archive projects from across the country. The overall theme for this year is engagement. It also includes the announcement of the Community Archive of the Year. Lets hope for a Hampshire winner for 2015. I shall report back on the events and highlights of the day in next weeks blog.

Community archives update, 7/7/2015

July 7, 2015

Further Wessex Film and Sound Archive films are now available to view online through the BFI Player, as part of the Britain on Film collection launched today. The BFI Player is available at . If you scroll down, the section for England is at the foot of the page, and there is an interactive map at

Most film and sound recordings in the WFSA collections can be accessed in the main Hampshire Archives and Local Studies searchroom. Film shows occasionally form part of the Last Thursday Lecture series on the last Thursday of the month. More info:

Most film and sound recordings in the WFSA collections can be accessed in the main Hampshire Archives and Local Studies searchroom. Film shows occasionally form part of the Last Thursday Lecture series on the last Thursday of the month. More info:

At Wessex Film and Sound Archive you can see and hear history, from late Victorian times to the present day, through moving images and sound recordings. The Archive contains over 36,000 film and sound recordings relating to Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, including film and tapes of local TV and radio. For more information go to


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