I have to admit I was in two minds about whether to make my way down to Lewes, East Sussex on Sunday for the Family History Open Day at the East Sussex Record Office. Being a Sunday public transport was an issue and the weather wasn’t particularly brilliant either, but in the end I was glad I went.
I was a little disappointed to find it so busy, I know that is good for them, but it did make things a little awkward in the cramped surroundings of the record office and meant that I didn’t get chance to take one of the behind the scenes tour, which were booked up until well into the afternoon.
The search room itself was a buzz of activity compared to its usual quiet atmosphere. There were two local family history society stalls here, representatives of the local library service, a display on the new record office “The Keep” and a selection of documents on display.
Most visitors however seemed to be taking the opportunity to explore the shelves around the outside of the search room, where various books, catalogues and transcriptions are held. Not wishing to be left out I took the opportunity to take a look at some Brighton Directories to see if I could find some mention of Frank TROWER’s brother, but to no avail.
For me though the most fascinating and instructive experience of my visit was watching the conservator at work, demonstrating how to clean a map and discussing other aspects of document preservation and conservation, and how to use a nutmeg grater when cleaning a map!
It was a really good day, with the cramped environment of the record office being the only drawback on the whole event. This just highlights the need for a new record office and fortunately work has recently begun on the new building, although it will be a couple of years before it opens for business.