Friday, 30 October 2009

Transporting the past

The building of the new Glamorgan Archives in Leckwith is complete and on November 2nd at 10am the team will begin the task of moving all their documents into their new home.

A staggering 45,000 volumes, 60,000 plans and hundreds of items have been transferred from fragile boxes into new robust ones. Mike Hodgson, Conservator, was given the task of overseeing the packaging.

It has taken over three years for staff to prepare and package the documents ready for the move, with over 30,000 made-to-measure boxes being made using the Kasemake machine. The machine has become a valuable member of the team over the past few months.

As Mike explains:“At first we began making the boxes by hand, but as you can imagine making 30,000 was quite a daunting task! Thankfully we were successful in securing a CYMAL grant to purchase the Kasemake machine and since then we haven’t looked back.”

The Glamorgan team has also started the mammoth task of numbering the 18,000 shelves in the new building. Laid end to end they would stretch from Pontypridd to Merthyr Tydfil.

The new record office will open in the spring of 2010 and will see for the first time all of Glamorgan’s records being stored in the one location.

The building has been designed to ensure historical documents are kept in the best conditions and has been constructed to create stability in temperature and humidity.

Documents stored include records of local Councils, schools, families and individuals, landed estates, industries, shipping companies, Police, chapels and churches and many others as well as maps, plans and photographs.

Among some of the more intriguing papers is a bill for cloth purchased for the funeral of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 by Col Phillip Jones of Fonmon, who organised the funeral.

As well as being the home to 8km of historical documents the new record office will provide better facilities for people to use the documents as individuals or in groups with space for workshops and lectures in addition to the public search room. Students and school groups will be especially welcomed.

The building also houses a modern paper conservation studio where visitors will be able to watch specialists working to repair and conserve irreplaceable documents. A major feature of the studio is a giant wall board, which large maps can be repaired on. At 3 by 4 metres it is believed to be the largest of its type in Europe and was partly funded by a CYMAL grant.

Executive Member for Finance and Service Delivery, Cllr Mark Stephens, said:” The new Glamorgan Archives will provide a modern space for people to learn more about the past and their family history. There is some fascinating information available and having all documents stored in the one building will particularly benefit people with their searches.

“I know the team at the Glamorgan Archives are looking forward to moving to their new home and I would like to personally thank them for all the hard work they have put into the project.”


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