BERKSHIRE Record Office is celebrating its 70th birthday on Friday 10th August.
The Record Office, located in Reading, is the custodian of local archives from across the Royal County. Its collections span ten centuries of Berkshire’s history and contain many nationally significant items, including the archives of Reading Prison and Broadmoor Hospital.
Berkshire Record Office was opened for the first time on 10th August 1948, by Felix Hull, County Archivist, in the basement of the old Shire Hall – now The Forbury Hotel in Reading.
Felix had a desk for himself and one for researchers. Next door were a series of vaults, where the county’s archives were stored.
Anyone wishing to visit the Record Office needed a reference from a Justice of the Peace or a public body and had to give three days’ notice. There were 21 visitors that year and the first item consulted was the enclosure award for Upton parish.
In 1981 the whole County Council, including the Record Office, moved to the new Shire Hall at Shinfield Park, next to Junction 11 of the M4. In 1998 when Berkshire County Council was abolished, the Record Office began a new life as a joint service of the 6 unitary authorities in Berkshire and moved into its present home in Coley Avenue, Reading in October 2000.
The office also recently celebrated after receiving great results from a UK wide satisfaction survey, with 97% of respondents scoring the service as very good/good.
Mark Stevens, County Archivist, said: “For archivists, 70 years is a heartbeat – but we’re still very excited to celebrate our own 70th. Since opening in 1948 the office has moved three times and grown considerably. Today, the archives of the Royal County collections span ten centuries of Berkshire’s history and are contained in over eight miles of shelving. Last year we had enquiries or visits from 8,000 people – from all over the world.”
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading Council’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I’d like to congratulate Berkshire Record Office on reaching its 70th Birthday. The office carries out such an important role for the county’s heritage and is used by thousands of people every year. It has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1948 with just 21 visitors!”
For further information on the history of the Berkshire Record Office, visit:
Notes for editors
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