New Accessions: April to June
Here at the History Centre we continue to acquire new collections which reflect the activities and achievements of our county. Here is a brief overview of some of the collections we have received between April to June.
The latest of our 200+ Women’s Institute collections arrived in May courtesy of the Ashton Keynes group (reference 4462). The series of minute books (1988-2016) and programmes (2002-2013) demonstrate the group’s diverse interests and activities, including their events, talks and charitable work. Similar in nature are the archives of the Warminster Farming Club (reference 2203A). The club was originally formed in 1927 as the Wiltshire Association of Dairy Students. The club’s minutes cover the years 1954 and continue until the branch disbanded in 2011. There is much to discover as to the group’s activities, discussions and achievements. The records of clubs and societies will provide much in the way of local and social history interest to future generations.
One of the most recently created collections comes from a 2018 project by the Portsmouth-based charity Urban Vocal Group (reference 1709A). The UVG is a youth music project, supporting people living in disadvantaged or challenging circumstances. The History Centre was one of a number of heritage organisations who supported their HLF-funded Never Had They Ever project. The group used archive collections to explore women’s experiences in World War 1. Groups from Salisbury and Portsmouth undertook archival research and recorded their own songs and spoken-word accounts based on their discoveries. The resulting CD and resource pack, which features lyrics and proposed school activities, makes a welcome addition to our collections.
The Western Counties Road Records Association (reference 2516A) was formed in 1933, as one of several regional groups organising and adjudicating attempts on road cycling records. The collection details the many attempts both on place-to place-routes (such as Swindon to Bournemouth and back) or set distances such as a designated 25 mile route. The series of minute books also documents the interaction between the various affiliated cycling across the region. In addition, there are accounts of the many successful and unsuccessful records attempts.
The Fussells Garage (reference 3678A) has been a landmark business for almost a century. The garage was originally established by Percy Fussell in Chirton in 1922 selling new and used cars. The business was subsequently run in partnership with Wadman of Market Lavington as Fussell Wadman, and relocated to Northfields, where it continues to trade. Their archive was kindly donated by Percy’s son Tom who eventually took over the business. The collection includes sales ledgers, wages books, and payment and asset books, which tells us much of the development of the car trade during this period as cars became more prevalent. Sales ledgers also provide clients’ names and addresses including many local businesses. Other ledgers outline car parts and manufacturing which will be useful to those interested in car restoration
We have received various documents related to specific properties around the county. For example, collection 3661A covers 50 years in the history of the ownership of Lansdowne House, Long Street, Devizes. The earliest document dates from 1829 and refers to the house being on almshouse land. The property still survives, and through this collection of leases, conveyances and mortgages we can chart the owners or occupiers of this property.
Similarly, 2296A is a collection of legal papers and property documents pertaining to various properties north and east of Swindon. These include a house in Beast Market, Highworth, and parcels of land called Okeys and Berrycroft in Wanborough. The collection also includes a 1704 marriage settlement between John Hawkins of Stanton Fitzwarren and Joane Lightfoot of Highworth, plus the probate for several wills of the parish of Highworth from between 1729 and 1850.
The Wiltshire Local History Forum was formed in 1985. It’s aims were to assist the work of local history societies in Wiltshire, to represent the interests of Wiltshire historians, and to work with the British Association for Local History in fostering historical studies in Wiltshire. This collection (reference 2903A) includes their minutes and accounts, plus details of the many oral history schools, open days and other events and working-partnerships to which the Trust was committed. The collection shows the breadth of their work and interests and concludes by documenting the dissolving of the trust earlier this year.
In addition to acquiring these new collections, we have also received additional documents to existing archives. Our records of the Swindon and Marlborough Methodist Circuit have been supplemented by documents for the Queen’s Drive chapter (reference 4045/2/10). These include records of donations (1995-2016), journals (1995-2016) plus a drawing for a proposed new church (1958). The collection also includes documents relating to the Young Wives Club, which was established by nine “young wives” of the Park South estate in 1957. Their documents include committee minute book (1957-1987), plus service programmes which document the many talks and discussion evenings arranged by the club.
Our Council’s Education Department files have been further enhanced by a selection of papers of the Swindon School’ Athletic Association (reference F8/960); specifically, a series of minute books from the Association’s cricket club. These 3 volumes begin with their inaugural meeting in May 1931 and continue until 2006. The meetings discuss a wide range of issues including events, venues, match reports, threats to facilities and interaction with many organisations.
Also new to our Education Department is an accrual of records from Royal Wootton Bassett Academy (reference F8/700/28/1/22/3-5). These photograph albums and scrapbooks were compiled by members of the school’s Despenser House between 1981 and 1990, and contain both formal and informal photographs, newsletters and evidence of the various fund-raising activities the pupils undertook in aid of Comic Relief and Guide Dogs for the Blind. These volumes are now join the school’s collection of governors' minutes, admissions registers and school newsletters here at the History Centre.
Our collection of records of the Trustees of the Duchess of Somerset's Hospital at Froxfield (3637) now include a booklet to commemorate the tricentenary of the hospital in 1986 (3637/73), a 2013 resident’s handbook (3637/74) and invitations to a Founder’s Day service and Open Day, both in 2018 (3637/76). Similarly, the Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust collection (2850) has been enhanced by recent annual reports and minutes covering 2008-2014, which now means our collection for the Trust covers some sixty years from its inaugural meeting in 1954 onwards.
We are grateful to all our donors for contributing their collections which further the historic study of Wiltshire. Details of all our holdings are available via our online catalogue. The collections themselves are available to browse in our reading room in Chippenham.
David Plant, Archivist