Virtual Landscapes

on Thursday, 20 March 2014.

Our Education Officer Laurel Miller has taken part in a project with Westbury young people, using the archives at the History Centre to inspire them to create a piece of film and animation around the theme of the Fovant Badges. 

This highly successful 'Virtual Landscapes' project has now come to an end and the creative work is now available to view on the Arts in Wiltshire blog at

Arctic Convoy Project

on Tuesday, 11 March 2014.

Project to gather veterans' stories receives £10,000 Sharing Heritage funding

Wiltshire’s Arctic Convoy veterans are to have their unique stories of camaraderie and bravery recorded for all time as part of a £10,000 oral history project.

There are now just 23 servicemen left in Wiltshire and Swindon who braved the most treacherous Arctic route, described by Sir Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in history,” to deliver vital supplies to the allies in World War ll.

Richard Jaggar

From 1941 to 1945 their convoys of merchant and navy ships crossed the Arctic route on a perilous route which cost more than 85 merchant vessels and 16 warships with more than 3,000 casualties.

At a special ceremony at County Hall last autumn members of both the Arctic Convoy and bomber command were given the Arctic Convoy Star Medal from the Ministry of Defence to recognise their bravery and the important role they played in the war effort.

Now their memories are to be recorded for posterity after the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre was awarded a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage Grant to help collect their stories before they are lost to the passing of time.

The centre, which is jointly funded by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council, will enlist the help of a professional oral historian and volunteers from the Trowbridge branch of the naval charity the White Ensign Association to conduct the interviews.

The interviews will form part of an online exhibition and also be used to create a drama by a youth theatre group at the Playhouse Theatre in Salisbury.

Photographic portraits will be taken to create a visual record for the community’s memory and the recorded interviews and other records will then be made available to researchers by the Wiltshire and Swindon Archive Service, based at the history centre.

Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member with responsibility for heritage at Wiltshire Council said: “These brave veterans provided a vital service to the war effort and I’m delighted we’ve been given this funding to capture their personal recollections for generations to come.”

History Centre Exhibtion and Activities in Trowbridge

on Monday, 17 February 2014.

Visit our team at our stand in the County Hall Atrium, Trowbridge

Wiltshire’s Heritage and Arts Services will be displaying their work and running some workshops in the Atrium 17 – 21 February.

On Monday the Local Studies service will be present and running a workshop called ‘How old is that photograph?’ Bring along your old photographs and talk to our team to help you date and identify your family portraits and other photos.  Workshops will be held  11 am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm

On Tuesday come and talk to members of the county archive service about how to research your family tree or find out about the history of your house, village or town, come and see a small selection of archives and images with a war-time theme up close and view historic cinefilms of Wiltshire.

On Wednesday there will be a Conservation Advice Surgery: not sure how to store those family photo’s? Do you have some antique books you would like to keep safe? Bring in your collections from 12:00 until 15:00 and we can give you advice on how to look after your photographs, books, papers or works of art on paper. There will also be the opportunity to get up close to some museum objects, and to see how a conservator works.

On Thursday the Archaeology Service will be joined by the Wiltshire Buildings Record. Come and talk to us about how we protect and preserve Wiltshire’s historic landscape and see examples of our work.

On Friday, come and meet the arts development officers from 10am to 4pm and find out about the numerous arts project and initiatives across the county. During lunchtime, a variety of musical and dance performances and character appearances from some of our projects will take place. You can also pick up information about cultural programmes across the county.

Now in Then

on Saturday, 01 February 2014.

A new Chippenham creative writing group is taking place here at WSHC

  • for adults, led by a professional writer
  • all genres - novels, short stories, poetry, play writing, new media
  • using historical artefacts and documents as inspiration

When: Saturday Mornings 2014 10am-1pm
1 March 22 March 5 April 12 April 10 May
17 May 7 June 14 June

Cost: £20 for 8 x 3 hour sessions, plus expert mentoring

For more information T: 01249 705531 or E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
To book, T: 01249 705500 or E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Memoriam - Robert Pearson 1954-2013

on Thursday, 02 January 2014.

I am sure regular users of the History Centre will be sad to learn of the death from cancer on 23 December 2013 of our colleague and dear friend, Robert Pearson.

Robert has been connected with the archive service for over 10 years, beginning as a volunteer at Trowbridge, then starting paid work in October 2003 as a part-time records assistant helping the public with enquiries. He developed a particular interest in and expertise in police and military records, as well as assisting in a private capacity in helping to compile the Church of England Clergy Database.

In 2008 he gained a post-graduate qualification in Archive Administration through distance learning with the University College Wales, at Aberystwyth, and in the same year he began a one day a week secondment as an archivist. In 2011 he became full-time project archivist for the Radnor project, cataloguing the papers of the Earls of Radnor of Longford Castle, although illness forced him to reduce his hours in 2012. It is planned to finish the catalogue in 2014, which Robert would have been very pleased to see. (If anyone has any queries about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Robert was a kind, generous and exceptionally positive person who bore his illness with enormous courage and good humour. He will be very much missed.

Robert’s family have asked for donations to Shaftesbury Hospital or Cancer research UK, rather than flowers. He will be having a woodland burial in Dorset later this month.
Claire Skinner

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