The ‘Community Archives: Skills, Support & Sustainability’ project has been set up by the Norfolk Record Office with the aim of providing Norfolk’s community archive and local heritage groups with advice, training and resources to help them improve the management of their important and unique collections. Since 2020 the project team has worked closely with over 30 partner groups. During International Archives Week, we will showcase a selection of these groups and the progress they have made during the project.
The Aylsham Town Archive can trace its roots back to around 1950 but has been in its present location and open for research since July 1960. First catalogued in 1974, the archive covers the whole of the parish of Aylsham and an area of 2-3 miles around. Based on the Town Council’s own records, it now contains over 1500 manuscript and printed items and a large photographic image archive formed from donations and copied photos, most of which have been added in the last 20 years.
Being a partner in the NRO’s Community Archive Project has given us a new lease of life! The generous packaging budget led to a thorough clear up of loose, oversize items on tops of cupboards and the re-organisation of the ‘poster’ cupboard. These fragile posters and maps can now be handled safely for the first time. We also have proper archival aids such as weights, a book cushion, cotton tape and brass paper clips.
Just as importantly, the technical help we were given created an Excel catalogue to update the old database version. This offered the chance to check the whole catalogue for queries and gaps and will we hope carry us forward for another 10 years!
The project staff were unfailing in their cheerfulness and encouragement despite not being able to come on site because of COVID. Inspiration came also from hearing and seeing other groups dealing with a range of different problems.
The archive is used regularly in local exhibitions and enquiries come to us by email and via the Heritage Centre in Aylsham and the Local History Society so we are never short of work!
If you wish to know more contact details for Aylsham Heritage Centre are available on their website.