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Friends of Herefordshire Archives



Friends of Herefordshire Archives

HARC Autumn Walk 2016

Rotherwas 1916, Tuesday 13 September 2016

Rotherwas, 1916: once the summer barley was safely harvested, a vast munitions factory quickly sprang up. Soon thousands of workers - many of them women - from as far away as London, Lancashire and Cork filled explosive shells for the Front Line.

This successful short tour of the district was led by Bill Laws, author of Herefordshire on the Home Front, recalling some of the people who worked here a century ago. If there's anyone who took pictures during the walk, then we would be grateful if you would kindly send some to us to put up on here.


AGM 2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the our wonderful new building, known as The HARC, Fir Tree Lane, Rotherwas. It was a very successful evening, culminating with light refreshments and a talk, delivered by our Chairman Richard Smith, on the new HLF-funded project: "Rotherwas Royal Ordnance Factory: Front Line Duty".

The most important part of the AGM is that members voted for our new, more appropriate name change. Herefordshire no longer has a record office as such, as in the old days with the premises on Harold Street. HARC stands for Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre, and so we are now the FHA - Friends of Herefordshire Archives

Here are some the pictures of the event:






HARC Christmas Tea Party, Monday December 7th 2015

This was a very successful event, with Christmas trees, tea, snacks & conversation. Here are some pictures.









Note: for more information on asbestos in the main library, see this link.


Grand opening of HARC with HRH The Duke of Kent KG

The official opening of the HARC took place on Thursday 1 October 2015, when Elizabeth Semper O’Keefe, our Collections and Archives Manager and Edward Harley, our President, welcomed HRH The Duke of Kent KG to our wonderful new building to unveil an official plaque to celebrate. Here are some pictures of the event.







You can see more pictures here 



  Tuesday 8th Sept, we had a very successful outing to Kilpeck to see the castle, church, and village, led by Tim Hoverd. Pictures may appear here in due course. 



AGM 2015

This successful event was held on Thursday 11th June 2015 at the new HARC in Rotherwas, Hereford. After the business part of the meeting, light refreshments were served, and we enjoyed a presentation by Tim Hoverd on "Kilpeck Castle, Village & Priory: Something for everyone".

Inspired by this, there will be an outing to Kilpeck on Tuesday 8th Sept, to see the castle, church, and village, led by Tim Hoverd. Meet at Kilpeck Church at 6.30 pm (parking by the church or at the village hall). Click here for more details.

Meanwhile here are some pictures taken at the AGM:

The officers giving their reports:



Friends in the audience


more reports...


Heather stands down from the Chair 



Cutting the welcome cake provided by Jean Currie


members enjoying the refreshments


Richard taking up his duties as Chairman as we settle down for Tim's talk

The Burgage Plots visible on the photo - and the game of Nine Men's Morris!


It was a good evening, enjoyed by one and all.  





Meeting of Local History Societies at Brampton Bryan Hall


On Friday 8 May, representatives of local history societies enjoyed an evening at Brampton Bryan Hall as part of the Local History Forum, kindly hosted by our President and his wife, Edward and Victoria Harley. See the report here, and there are some pictures of the event below:  







Shared Visit to Magna Carta

The Friends of Herefordshire Record Office were invited to join the Friends of Herefordshire Museum and Arts in celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta at Hereford Cathedral on 27th April. 2015. 

The visit was well attended with a welcome from David Marshall after the special exhibition of the Magna Carta had been viewed. Coffee and cake were enjoyed in College Hall while Edward Dawson gave an historic overview. The group was then split into two and took turns, one to view the Mappa Mundi, the Chained Library and Hereford’s 1217 Magna Carta, while the other were impressively introduced, by Rosalind Caird and Rosemary Firman, to a unique display of ancient documents, fragile seals and illuminated books from the Cathedral’s collection.




Declaration of our President Edward Harley as High Sheriff of Herefordshire on 9th April 2015

The Declaration of Edward Mortimer Harley as High Sheriff of Herefordshire took place at The Shirehall on the evening of Thursday 9th April, 2015 in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant and a distinguished group of Church, Judicial and Civic Dignitaries.

The new High Sheriff swore allegiance to the Crown and undertook to support the Judiciary. The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lord Justice of Appeal, presided. Edward Harley appointed The Reverend Mike Catling as his Chaplain and Mr Jeremy Wilding as the Under Sheriff of the Bailiwick of Herefordshire. There is more information here, and here are some pictures of the event:




Progress is being made and the library has been transferred. We are approaching our goal!



New archive building completed! 

Work has finished on the new £8 million Herefordshire Archive and Records (HARC) building. After 15 months of construction work, the developers Kier handed over the keys to the Council on Monday, January 5th. Click here for more details.


Come and explore Herefordshire’s new state of the art centre for historical research! Two Open Days are planned: Friday 30 January and Thursday 12 February 2015, 10am - 3pm.

There will be regular tours of the building throughout the day, including the public research areas, energy efficient archive storage facilities and conservation studio. There will also be a display of images showing construction of the building. No pre booking necessary, parking on site. 

The centre will open for archive research later in 2015. For further information phone 01432 260750. Click here for a poster.
Herefordshire Archives and Records Centre
Fir Tree Lane, Rotherwas, HR2 6LA


A welcome evening for over 80 people to see inside the new building!

A successful Welcome Evening was held on Friday 28th November at the new Herefordshire Archives and Record Centre in Hereford, off the straight Mile at Rotherwas.

The visitors were welcomed with wine, and addresses were given by Rhys Griffith, Senior Archivist, Heather Hurley, Chairman of the Friends, and Richard Smith, a keen volunteer. While a rolling display of photographs remained on the screen, tours of the new building were led by Rhys and Liz, Head of Conservation. The evening finished with more wine together with ample offerings of bread, cheese, cake and mince pies. Here are a few memories of the occasion:

Preparing refreshments  Welcoming the guests  Packed into the Learning Room

Rhys's address  Heather's address  Richard's address

In the Search Room  up the stairs  The Atrium from above

Archaeology Department  In the Conservation Room  The light wall for maps

The moving stacks  Explaining about the stacks  the picture stacks

Relaxing afterwards



A visit was made on Tuesday evening 16th September to the Cider Museum to view the Pulling’s Archive with Rebecca Roseff. Here are a few of the pictures:





Meanwhile, to see the HARC Herald, a report from the contractors, Kier, click here.


And here is the latest report from Elizabeth Semper O’Keefe, Collections & Archives Manager , followed by a few recent pictures of the HARC:

     Progress is good on all aspects of the new build project – the building itself is on target to be completed in early September, with furniture and some staff from other departments moving in after that. The documents themselves (being a fussy lot!) won’t move in until the environmental conditions are stable. The contractors are having to put huge fans in the strongrooms to dry out the air as the rooms are so airtight in order to meet the Passivhaus standard that there is not enough natural airflow to do this! We hope that we can move the collections in early 2015, with the building opening to the public in spring 2015. We know how frustrating it is for you not to be able to access the collections – but it will be worth the wait!

     Meanwhile, back at Harold St, staff and volunteers are working hard to stock check and repackage collections ready for the move. They have already completed just over half the 17,500 boxes and we are now turning our attention to volumes and maps (10,000 and 5,000 respectively) – you can see the progress by accession number on the webpage: The progress report is linked at the right hand side and is updated each month.

     There is a unique opportunity to tour the old and the new record offices available as part of the Heritage Open Days on 11th September, visiting the Harold St site in the morning and HARC in the afternoon. Tour numbers are limited so booking will be necessary – look out for the Heritage Open Days leaflets for details.

     We are also continuing with some outreach activities – the Godwins project has officially ended, but the interest continues and the exhibition has been displayed in a number of venues including Hereford Museum and All Saints Church. Items from the Archive collections are also on display currently in the WW1 exhibition at Hereford Museum, and Rhys took a small WW1 related display to the Castle Green fair in June.

     We are also participating in some other projects including a national project to digitise school log books and together with Worcestershire are updating the TNA’s manorial index for Herefordshire and Worcestershire. But our focus is mainly on HARC and getting everything ready in time. We look forward to welcoming you there.






and a reminder that recent pictures, including the Topping Out Ceremony, can always be viewed here.




    AGM 2014

Our AGM was held on Friday 30th May at Hom Chapel, Hom Green, Walford, by kind permission of Erika White. After the business meeting the Senior Archivist, Rhys Griffith, gave a fascinating talk on the History of Hom Chapel, after which some tasty refreshments were provided by the Committee and friends, and everyone had a chance to chat and view this wonderful chapel







On a wet February afternoon, your Committee had the opportunity to visit the site of the new HARC building at Rotherwas. It was a fascinating tour of a new building being constructed according to the Passivhaus standard, and the effectiveness of the insulation is certainly something that every homeowner would love to have! Many photos were taken. A small number appear below, but the best way of exploring the collection is on a website better designed for such things: click here (and then click on 'Open Photo Viewer' at bottom right). 






Rebecca Roseff gave a very interesting talk on Tue 18 February on the Archive of Cider Pomology. Here are some pictures:





Latest on the New Record Office Building in Rotherwas:


2014 is already proving to be a busy and exciting year for the Archive Service as work continues for the move to a new building in Rotherwas. The Record Office in Harold Street is now closed to the public, though we are continuing to answer all enquiries, and the paid research service can undertake research on users’ behalf.

 Meanwhile, staff and a band of volunteers are working their way through all the holdings: stock checking, cleaning, packaging and re-boxing the contents of 17,500 boxes ready for the move to HARC (Herefordshire Records and Archive Centre) that is scheduled for the end of 2014/early 2015. We have a target of between 40-50 boxes a day to be ready in time. Some boxes have hundreds of documents in - and then there are the maps and volumes to do after that!

The new building is itself scheduled to be completed in September 2014, but the Archive Service won’t be able to move in straight away – the strong rooms need to have achieved a stable environment before we can put the documents in, so we plan for a move in the winter of 2014/15, and hope to re-open to the public in early 2015. The building is currently on target, and at a recent site visit for staff and volunteers it was very interesting to see the progress that has been made.



Click here for up-to-date pictures of the site

See our 2014 programme here.





    For progress pictures of the new HARC building, see our Gallery page and Herefordshire Council's own progress page 



On Thursday 22 August a small ceremony was held to break the ground for the foundations of the new Archives and Records Office in Rotherwas, and several members of the FHRO including the chairman, treasurer and editor were there to celebrate the occasion. So it's official, and work has started! Some pictures appear here.

As mentioned in the July Newsletter, we hope that everyone will share our pleasure and excitement at the prospect of a new and specially-designed building. But times are hard and it seems almost inevitable that some finishing touches will be left for The Friends to address. The Committee has concluded that a fund-raising effort should be made to complement the new build, if possible adding a ‘wow’ factor. There can be no question of our seeking to duplicate or replace what Herefordshire Council is doing: our hope is to facilitate and improve public access to catalogues and holdings and make some contribution towards visitors having a productive and pleasurable experience. 

We have been giving some thought to a fund-raising campaign to be run in the course of 2014. A sub-committee of The Friends has been formed, including the Treasurer and Secretary, but we would very much like to find someone to join us to handle the publicity and press/public relations angles. Could you help?

We would also love to hear from anyone with any experience of fund-raising on a large or medium-scale and if you happen also to have the vital contacts, whether local or further afield, that would be invaluable too. Might that be you?

The fund-raising is being planned to cover all the obvious possible avenues and some less obvious ones too and the campaign will be launched early in the New Year. For the present, if you think you might be able to help, please email us.


Friends' Cathedral Close Tour

A very successful and enjoyable tour of the Cathedral Close took place on Monday 22 July, led by Peter Harris.

Here are some photos:











Friends' AGM - see brief report and pictures here!

Reduced opening hours 

From 1st April the Record Office will be reducing its opening hours in order to begin the preparation of the collections for relocation to new premises in 2014. We will open one week each month, including the Monday (except Bank Holidays) and Saturday. 

Please see the diary page of the archives website for the dates of these weeks, or you can download the pdf document here

With the limited number of days, the office is likely to be busier than usual, so please remember to book any machines you may need in advance.


New acquisition

The Friends have recently contributed £500 towards the purchase of an impressive volume of maps showing the Hampton Court Estate. The Friends of the National Libraries and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund each contributed a further £2,000. An additional £500 towards the purchase price was raised by the Record Office in its annual sale of surplus maps and books. Read more about it here




About us

The Friends were formed to support the work of the Herefordshire Record Office and continue to do so in a number of ways:

  • We provide financial support through an emergency document purchase fund, for items that come up for sale or auction that are not within the scope of the Record Office budget.
  • We undertake indexing and cataloguing projects for the office.
  • We lobby on behalf of the office wherever appropriate.
  • We assist at Record Office events.

The Friends continue to contribute towards the purchase of the following:

  • Replacing microfilms
  • Books for the record office library 
  • Binding and repairing of existing library books
  • Maps and other documents

Bookbinding is an ongoing activity paid for by the Friends, and donations are always welcome towards this and any other project we undertake. 

a picture of the Friends lion



© Friends of Herefordshire Archives 13 February, 2013