Work experience students discover more at the History Centre

on Thursday, 17 July 2014. Posted in Archives, Wiltshire Places

For my Year 10 work experience I chose to come to the History Centre. It has been an insightful experience into what the Centre actually does. I was lucky enough to get to do some sub-numbering - it helps prevent documents becoming lost. I was sub numbering the Earls of Radnor archives – which are also done by volunteers. These documents vary in age from the 17th century to the 20th century.

I have been able to do some cataloguing – both online and offline. The documents that had to be catalogued were the agendas and minutes of the meetings of the local Wiltshire councils. I began by sorting the documents by place, and noting their dates in Microsoft Excel. Then we had to go into a strong room, and place the meeting records with all of the others. These files are now accessible to the public. However the files have only been catalogued in draft form.

Mothers Union banner at Etchilhampton ChurchNot all of the work that I have done has been inside the centre. On Wednesday 9th July, there was an outing with Michael Marshman County Local Studies Librarian and Claire Skinner the Principal Archivist, as well as two other students taking work experience. We went to the village of Etchilhampton, where we took photos of the church, a former school building and a Baptist chapel that is now a garage. We then went to Stert; upon arriving at their Parish we were greeted by the sight of a man halfway down a hole in the chapel’s graveyard. We were relieved when it was just a 17th century brick vault and not something along the lines of Burke and Hare! Whilst we were there Mike began talking to the church warden, who had never been to the Centre but is coming here soon. It shows the form of outreach work the Centre does for the local communities.

The photos that were taken are being edited and prepared for publishing on the History Centre website. The editing process involves using photoshop which allows the images to be perfected before they are published. I managed to take some images of the First World War memorials at both of the Parishes. Some of these images may be used in the Centre’s 100 year anniversary activities about the War, when looking at the effect on Wiltshire that the War had.

In the Etchilhampton parish church, they had the roll of honour for the village. It showed that 18 men joined the war for their country and out of those 18 men two of them died. It’s incredible to think that even a village that may have had a population of 200 in wartime was still affected by the damages that the war produced. When we went to Stert they did not have a roll of honour, although they did have a memorial for those who lost their lives in the War. From Stert seven men died throughout the wartime period.

I have been looking at the Great War for some of my time here. On one of the days I was studying wartime Wiltshire newspapers. But I had to use microfilm newspapers as they save wear and tear and are actually easier to use than obtaining the original paper. Whilst looking at these papers I discovered some interesting articles and stories from them. In the Salisbury and Winchester Journal they had a column that I believe was called ‘The War – Day to Day’. It summarised what was happening each day that was vital for the war. Then there was the story of a soldier in training who was found on a country road, with severe head injuries which he eventually died from. But it was an interesting story that was not resolved in the paper. I really enjoyed looking at the War in that level of depth.

So that is about it for my experience, it is likely that I haven’t said everything that I planned to, but I think I have said all I needed to. I would just like to say thank you to the Centre for letting me come and work with them. I hope that more people will come and make use of the amenities here.

Ben Skinner 11/07/14


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