Berkshire Record Office £38K Boost for Exceptional River Thames Archive

Liquid Assets

BERKSHIRE Record Office, the county’s archives service, has been awarded £38,866 for one of its collections by a national grant scheme, under the theme of ‘Liquid Assets.’

Just over £38K has been awarded to catalogue an exceptional archive for one of England’s great waterways – the River Thames.

The Berkshire Record Office holds the archive of the Thames Conservancy (the historical body responsible for the management of the river before the Environment Agency and Thames Water), which forms a unique and unbroken record of the river’s management over 200 years.

The Thames Conservancy archive consists of 617 rolls, 569 volumes, 66 files, 32 bundles, 19 documents and 1 box.  In terms of size it measures 10 metres by 10 metres by 10 metres. It will take 14 months for one person to catalogue it all!

The catalogue will transform access to this vast collection for researchers interested not only in the Thames but also in topics such as water purity, biodiversity, land drainage and flood management.

The Conservancy ran the Thames from its source until its tidal reach at Teddington.  It built the river that we know today – the locks, weirs and towpaths.  It was also responsible for prosecuting people who polluted the water, for preventing flooding and for draining land around the river for agricultural or residential use, functions now covered by the Environment Agency and Thames Water.

The ‘Liquid Assets’ project will also feed into a wide range of public engagement events planned for 2021, when the 250th anniversary of the conservancy will be celebrated.

County Archivist for Berkshire, Mark Stevens: “Everyone knows the Thames is a national treasure, but the Thames Conservancy collection – a treasure trove for the river’s history – is largely unknown.  We’re very excited that Archives Revealed will change that.”

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I’m delighted Berkshire Record Office has received such a generous boost to make the River Thames Archive as easily accessible as possible for researchers and communities. With conservation, biodiversity and water management such important and topical issues, this is a timely award and will provide a valuable research resource both locally and nationally.”

Berkshire Record Office is one of nine projects in the UK to receive funding. The award is part of the ‘Archives Revealed’ programme, which is supported by The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation, transforms access to archives for a wide range of users.

The programme’s cataloguing grants open up collections that matter to researchers and communities, increasing public engagement with the UK’s rich documentary heritage.

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives, said: “Cataloguing is the key to revealing archival material that can be used in countless ways by individuals and communities. Today we are delighted to announce funding for the cataloguing of nine highly significant and diverse collections, enabling greater access to our collective heritage and allowing people to gain a deeper insight into the past.”

Georgina Nayler, Director of The Pilgrim Trust said: “The Pilgrim Trust is proud to support the cataloguing of nine inspiring archive collections through the Archives Revealed programme. The archival material that they contain will be valuable to both researchers and the public and we are looking forward to seeing wider audiences engage with these newly available collections.”


Notes for editors

Photos available for use by the media: Caversham plan 1869 and List of polluters 1907 (copyright Berkshire Record Office)

Details of all cataloguing grants awarded in June 2019

Full details of the nine successful projects in this round of cataloguing grants can be found at:

Archives Revealed contact details

For further information about the Archives Revealed programme, please contact:

Beth Astridge and Lucy Davis
Sector Grants and Development Managers
Archive Sector Development
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU


Berkshire Record Office is the joint archives service for the six Berkshire councils.  It looks after historic collections from public authorities and private bodies from across the county, dating from the 12th century to the present day.  Items from the collections can be consulted for free during opening hours, Tuesday-Friday.

The Record Office is always happy to add historic documents and photographs to its collections.  Anyone with relevant material is invited to contact: Berkshire Record Office, 9 Coley Avenue, Reading RG1 6AF.

Tel: 0118 937 5132



Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email or call 0118 937 3957