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Community archives update, 7/10/2015

October 7, 2015

Last week I hosted a very successful visit to Hampshire Record Office by Andover HGS. The group was so keen they all arrived early which was great as there is so much to pack in to these events, the more time the better. Beginning with a tour of the reception and searchroom I was able to go through the practicalities of how to come in and use our services, the wide range of material we have to offer and useful facilities available. About half the group were coming to us for the first time so I think this element was particularly useful to them.
As ever the real highlight of the evening was the archives themselves and to give a small taster of the wonderful original material freely available to researchers I had put together a small exhibition using Andover as the theme. The earliest document by far was the 1205 charter of King John to the men of Andover but I also showed them a selection of maps of the area, parish magazines, photographs and a school log book. There was great excitement as people spotted their houses on the maps or found family names in the registers. Next I took the group behind the scenes to areas usually off limits to the public to explain where the archives are stored securely and how material is produced for researchers. We then enjoyed a trip to the conservation department where I showed them a number of examples of the remarkable work done by our conservators to rescue and repair archives which have suffered damage perhaps due to poor storage during their working life. To finish off we headed for the Record Office cinema to look in detail at our website and online catalogue to demonstrate just how easy it is to search our collections and an enjoyable evening was completed with a delve into the collections of Wessex Film and Sound Archive and a film entitled ‘Round and about Andover’ showing the town in the 1960s. The group left enthused and promising to return soon to discover more. The leader of the trip described the visit as ‘extremely interesting and informative’.
Details of how you can book your group in for an evening visit to the Record Office can be found at It is popular so be warned there is usually a waiting list but hopefully this has shown that the wait is worthwhile.
Mark Pitchforth, Archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Community archives update, 28/09/2015

September 28, 2015

What an action packed week we have just had for community archives. It started off with one of our Family History for Beginners evenings on Tuesday and a small group of budding genealogists were set off on the right track with an overview of the Record Office and the best sources for getting started with their research. My meeting with a member of Swanmore Village Archive on Wednesday was very interesting. I was able to see the good progress the group had made and hear about their plans for the future. They also very kindly loaned us an exhibition about Swanmore during the First World War which will be on display at Hampshire Record Office from January-March 2016. The Last Thursday Lecture including a talk and film show on papermaker and Huguenot Henry Portal attracted an almost full house including members of the Portal family. The event was part of the Huguenot Summer 2015 which has proved to be greatly successful with over 135 events across the country. Two different school groups from Otterbourne and Hedge End joined us for visits to the archive towards the end of the week. Both enjoyed talks on the Record Office and were given the chance to experience original archive material.

'Hampshire Commemorates' exhibition at Buriton, 26 Sep 2016

‘Hampshire Commemorates’ exhibition at Buriton, 26 Sep 2016

On Friday evening I attended an event at Hambledon Community Centre celebrating the history of the village. The history society there has been reinvigorated recently and what seemed like the entire population of Hambledon turned up to find out more. I took along an exhibition on local history, our usual mix of leaflets and a few copies of local archives to whet their appetites and hopefully encourage them to visit us in the future to discover more. A busy and productive week ended with two events in East Hampshire. We supported Buriton’s annual heritage day by loaning them the Hampshire Commemorates exhibition as a backdrop to their work on the First World War and I attended the Family and Local History Fair at Petersfield Library, performing a talk on family history and displaying one of our exhibitions.

Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Community archives update, 10/09/2015

September 10, 2015

This week I visited Fair Oak to perform a talk on researching house history to the local Hampshire Genealogical Society. The group were very welcoming and enthusiastic. I was able to take along copies of a few local sources such as ordnance survey maps, sale particulars and photographs to give a flavour of what we can offer and hopefully inspire one or two to make the journey to Winchester to look into the history of their own home or perhaps other local buildings.
Unfortunately the family history workshop scheduled for this Saturday at The New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst which I mentioned in previous blogs has had to be cancelled but don’t forget we regularly run Family history for beginners sessions at Hampshire Record Office where you can find out all you need to know to research your family tree. Details can be found at

Looking ahead there is a very busy week coming up at the end of September with a wide range of community archive related activities going on. First I will be visiting Swanmore Village Archive to discuss their exhibition material. Then Buriton Village Association are coming in to the Record Office to borrow our Hampshire Commemorates First World War exhibition for a local history event. Thursday 24 September is Last Thursday Lecture day and I will be performing a short talk and showing a film from the Wessex Film and Sound Archive relating to Henry Portal and Portals papermaking business as part of the Huguenot Summer 2015. We are hosting a visit from Wildern School pupils who will be given an introduction to the archive service and some of the sources for local history and I will be attending an evening event at Hambledon led by the local history society who are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Then finally on Saturday 26 September I will be representing the Record Office at Petersfield Library Family and Local History Fair, performing a talk and displaying our Hampshire Heroes exhibition along with the usual mix of leaflets.
Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Hampshire Heroes exhibition previously on display at the HGS Open Day, Oct 2014

Hampshire Heroes exhibition previously on display at the HGS Open Day, Oct 2014

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.


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