Tag Archives: archives

Something Sussex: The Keep – the next step

2 Dec

Plans for The Keep moved another step forward with the submission of a planning application to Brighton & Hove City Council in October 2010.

The Keep is destined to be the new home for the collections of the East Sussex Record Office and the Brighton History Centre among others, and if all goes according to plan (and funding is forthcoming) it should be opened to the public in 2013.

The hope is that a decision will be reached by the 14th January 2011 and all the documentation about the application can be found on the Brighton & Hove City Council website in their planning register (application number BH2010/03259).

The application itself is described as being for the “Construction of an archive centre comprising lecture and educational facilities, reading room, conservation laboratories, archivist study areas, offices, cleaning and repair facilities for archives, repository block and refreshment area. Associated energy centre, car, coach and cycle parking, waste and recycling storage, landscaping including public open space and access.”

Delving into the documentation provides some interesting reading. The first document on the list is the application form and this includes opening hours which it gives as 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, with two evenings during the week and one Sunday a month. I fully expect these to change by the time it opens, but being able to visit on a Sunday would be a great advantage for me.

There is still much consultation and discussion to be done, but at least the plans have moved another step closer to completion.

A is for Access to Archives

27 Oct

Each week in the A to Z of English Genealogy I will focus on one particular aspect of English genealogy, starting this week with the letter A which stands for Access to Archives or A2A.

Access to Archives was originally a standalone website, but it is now integrated into The National Archives website, and can now be found at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/default.aspx.

Essentially A2A is a search engine for the catalogues of respositories in both England and Wales. According to the website the index contains “contains 10.3 million records relating to 9.45 million items held in 418 record offices and other repositories”. This is a great tool for locating archives that contain information about particular people and places, but it does have it’s limitations.

The index was last updated in April 2008 and no new records are going to be added to the site (although there was supposed to be the facility for the existing records to be updated). Despite being effectively frozen in time, it is still a useful tool because it is said to “contain about 30 per cent of catalogues of archival collections in England and Wales.”

Searching is pretty straightforward, and you are probably better off heading straight for the advanced search page (shown below), rather than the quick search because of the ability to apply various restrictions on the search.

The amount of information contained in each catalogue entry varies widely, sometimes very little information is returned, but sometimes it is almost as good as viewing the actual record itself. Take for example the entry below which mentions so many of my TROWER relations.

Many respositories now have their own catalogues online, so it is always worth visiting their website and carrying out a search, but A2A is a great way of getting an overview of where the records might be found in the first place, and of course provides a single straight-forward interface for accessing many different catalogues.

Vault Vednesday: English style

20 Jan

(With apologies to the The Ancestry Insider)

I have hijacked the Vault Vednesday series about FamilySearch’s Granite Mountain Record Vault, to introduce a storage “vault” in England.

The “vault” concerned is not in the side of a mountain, but buried deep under the Cheshire countryside. The DeepStore storage facility occupies a small part of Winsford Rock Salt Mine.

According to the website the salt mine consists of 110 miles of tunnels, which given the ongoing demand for rock salt, continues to grow. The storage facility occupies only 1% of the available space so there is still plenty of room for expansion.

The DeepStore website features a short Quicktime video tour of the facility, which gives you some idea of the scale of place, as well as the benefits of keeping your documents 500ft underground. Customers include the Cheshire Record Office and The National Archives.

A brief history of the mine is also included on the website as well as details on mining techniques. It is a shame that the mine does not offer tours to the general public, but then that would probably defeat the object of a secure document storage facility!

Lots more information about the salt mine itself can be found at the Winsford Rock Salt Mine website, including historic images and videos of the mining progress.

Feeling sorry for myself

22 Jun

I was feeling very sorry for myself last night, I suppose you could call it a case of “Sunday night blues”, tomorrow would see me back at work again and I felt like I hadn’t really achieved anything this weekend.

Now don’t get me wrong, it had been quite a productive weekend, but you couldn’t really call cleaning the fridge and oven and mowing the grass achievements. Sunday was father’s day, so I had also spent some quality time round my parents house, enjoying dinner.

I suppose my problem was that I hadn’t actually found out anything new on my family tree, in fact I had done very little research during the previous week.

There were other factors, like the headache I had been unable to shake off, the aching shoulders (probably from cleaning the oven), the fact that Sunday was the longest day and although summer had just begun the days would soon be getting shorter and of course the feeling that in terms of walking I was probably not going to be able to beat my Sussex Day walk in terms of distance or enjoyment.

All this was conspiring to make me feel quite miserable!

The problem with my family tree is that my main projects all require a visit to the archives to make any more real progress, something which I don’t have the time and money to do. What I really needed was to focus on something I could do at home, between visits to the archives.

With access to ancestry.co.uk and various Sussex resources courtesy of the Sussex Family History Group, virtually any of my Sussex ancestors would be fair game.

Ideally I would like to find a family line with very local roots, preferably in the Horsham district, so I can use the resources of Horsham Library during my lunch break or after work. The added bonus of a local family is that it would be that much easier for me to visit their ancestral homes or search graveyards.

I can think of one or two families that might fit the bill and one in particular (the FAIRS family of West Grinstead) which I know I have quite a bit of research material on already.

I will keep my other projects active, and will fill in what details I can, but I won’t be able to make any major advances until I have visited Winchester, Carlisle or London again.

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