Ribbon cut on Potton History Society’s new community archive annexe
- Credit: Archant
Community historians in Potton now have a permanent archive room after it was formally opened at the weekend.
The Potton History Society raised the money to build and equip the 50-square-metre annexe to the town’s Mill Lane Pavilion, with the help of a generous grant from Potton Consolidated Charity.
The charity’s chairman Charles Belcher cut the ribbon on Saturday, with history society chairman George Howe looking on along with his members.
Founder member Peter Ibbett told the Comet that back in 1977 he little thought that 40 years later a society of about 80 members would raise the funds to build one of the best community archives in Bedfordshire.
The founding secretary Patricia Yates had a small collection that fitted on her dining room table, with a cabinet for photographs and documents. The growing collection has lived in a three-bay stable for the last couple of decades, before going into storage while its new home was built.
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Potton Consolidated Charity’s grant was boosted by further funding from the William Delafield Charitable Trust and the Foyle Foundation, which enabled work to start last year.
“It has taken since completion in September to move our collection in and organise it ready for use,” said Peter.
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“Now we have a space to store and work on the collection, as well as tables and chairs for small groups of up to 20 or so to explore the archive and add to it.”
A group of volunteers are already hard at work catching up on two years of in-tray material and updating indexes.
Peter said: “One of the most satisfying things about our community archive is how material which might otherwise have been lost has been kept and finds new interest decades later.
“We had an enquiry from a national newspaper journalist working on a project to find audio memories of the Victorian era. When we began the society in 1977 we did some cassette recordings of Potton’s oldest inhabitants, and we do have some verbal memories of growing up in Potton in the 1890s.
“These might find their way into a national archive and possibly be part of a TV series. It shows how important a local archive collection can be.”
History society chairman George Howe said: “Two important founders of the Society, Patricia Yates and Norman Parry, are no longer with us but they built good foundations for the society and would, I am sure, have approved of the present committee’s achievement in building this annexe.
“Also no longer with us is our building surveyor, Robert Trigg, who designed the building and guided us through everything we needed to do to bring the project to fruition.
“Without the generous support of the Potton Consolidated Charity, Potton Town Council, The William Delafield Trust and the Foyle Foundation – as well as society members past and present – this project would not have been possible.”
A special meeting about the archive will be held on Thursday, April 26, from 8pm in the community room at the Mill Lane Pavilion.
The new annexe will also host free exhibitions, the first of which will be about Potton’s Greensand Heritage on Sunday, June 3, as part of the Greensand Festival.
To find out more, have a look at pottonhistorysociety.org.uk.