Work on the project since the last update a year ago has been in two main areas.
1. Digitisation of the large parish archives scrapbook at Surrey History Centre (SHC) in Woking.
Digitisation of the Archives Book with photographs, cuttings, and booklet inserts has been completed. All pages and inserts have been photographed and edited, and we now have a complete set of electronic images of 330 pages, with 236 images of booklet inserts and cuttings. The book contains many items of local Weston Green interest, as well as more specific All Saints material from 1900 to 1999.
Following this first process, each page and booklet insert has been re-edited and re-sized in order to produce a set of A3, and A4 printable images. The plan is to print these pages, and then they can be placed in protective polypropylene sleeves, and stored in A3 folders. These can then be viewed here at All Saints.
After that I propose that the original Archives Book should be passed to SHC for future safekeeping in a secure controlled environment. It is not possible to preserve it properly for the future in the variable temperatures of the upstairs All Saints Vestry, and it is not accessible for viewing without risking damage to the pages. The book is extremely vulnerable if it is put out on display. It was repaired and restored by the expert conservator at SHC, and we should plan its future and conservation in the long term as a precious original record.
For information, many other All Saints historical archives are already stored at SHC having been passed on to them in 1999, and more in 2018. The contents of these catalogues are available to be viewed at SHC in Woking.
Weston All Saints Thames Ditton Parish Records 1901-1990
All Saints Weston Green Additional Records 1970s-2011
I have also digitised other plans, maps, the All Saints Weston Gift Book (1939-1995), some 1930s Parish Magazines, postcards, and church service cards.
This has all only been possible with the expertise and ongoing advice and support of Guz Gonzalez, and the other resources provided by SHC.
2. The other big focus for this year has been the work on the All Saints Weston Green Community Archive Catalogue spreadsheet. This is being masterminded by my volunteer colleague Simon Crome.
The long task of the preliminary listing of all the 3407 of professionally digitised archives items has finally been finished, and we are now beginning the process of categorising and numbering each item with catalogue identifying reference numbers. The eventual end of this work will result in SHC uploading the catalogue to the Surrey Heritage system for internet access in the future, and therefore its availability to anyone interested in local, church and family history. The catalogue will also include lists of non-digitised records such as most of the parish magazines, so that interested people know what has been kept and where to find them, whether at All Saints or SHC.
We now have protective archival boxes to protect most of the papers and photographs stored at All Saints (in the upstairs vestries)
Another part of the original HLF Community Archives funded project are the Learning Resources teaching packs. They were created by a professional archivist and intended for local use in schools or workshops for adults. The material applies specifically to the parish of Weston Green, and also the wider parish of Thames Ditton of which Weston Green was a part until 1934. The Weston Green Adult Learning Resource package is intended for adult local history workshops, and the second pack is a school Key Stage 2 level pack for children called “What is Church”. These resources are still unused.
This project owes a huge debt of gratitude to the support from Surrey History Centre, and to Simon Crome and Guz Gonzalez for all their hard work and commitment.
Pam Tiller April 2020
The aim of the project is to create a community archive for Weston Green. To achieve this the All Saints Archives collection is being digitised, organised and catalogued. When completed and online, the catalogue will be a lasting record of church history, local history, family history and educational resources, and a celebration of the church and its place in the community of Weston Green.
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the project £10,000 in response to the bid made by Revd. Phillip Johnson in November 2015. Surrey History Centre (SHC) is an official partner in this project, and were consulted and supportive in the application process. This is an innovative project for them as it is the first church community archives project that they have worked with. When it is up and active they hope it will encourage other churches to undertake similar work. The All Saints catalogue will eventually be available online through Exploring Surrey’s Past (the Surrey Heritage online resource)
The grant and a more recent donation have paid for a wide range of services. Professional digitisation has been carried out of all of the loose photographs from 1937 of events, activities and people connected with the church, and the pages from the album series (2000-2015) which contain similar material in a scrapbook format. Cine films which have clips from 1962 to 1985 have also been digitised, as well as plans, maps and documents. Conservation level packaging has been acquired to protect the stored physical items, and doors fitted to the cupboards in the Vestry room where the Archives are kept as another level of protection. The big Archives Book (1900 to 1999) has been professionally restored by the Conservator at Surrey History Centre, and the damage to pages and photographs has been repaired. A special conservation box was made for its protection. The grant also paid for Archives training for four volunteers, and specialist packaging training, and digitisation training at Surrey History Centre. Another aim of the bid was to engage with and enable a wide range of people to discover their local heritage. For this purpose, Learning Resources Packs were created by a professional archivist for school Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils, and workshop material for adults to explore church and Weston Green community. The intention was for our previous incumbent with his teaching background to be involved in their use in local schools, and also for him to run workshops for interested adults. Hopefully these will be used at some stage and it is possible that these materials could be put online also. The main focus for the past two years has been to work through and create a database with the details of over 3000 digitised items to date. This includes hundreds of loose photographs, all the black Albums of parish and community life since 2000, and plans and maps and some of the oldest parish magazines. There are now two of us working on the project, and we meet weekly to continue working on listing and organising all the physical items, and linking them up with their digital image file names, which will eventually form the Weston Green online catalogue, and be available to all. The work of creating the catalogue with its unique reference numbers for each item to be uploaded to the Exploring Surrey's Past website has yet to begin. I am also currently working to digitise the pages of the big archives book at Surrey History Centre using their specialist equipment. This is a very large scrapbook and contains all the oldest photographs and postcards that we have, including of Weston Green and the area, all the Vicars and Clergy of All Saints, leaflets and news cuttings from 1900 to 1999. Despite restoration it is vulnerable to being damaged if put on display, and digitising its contents is a way of preserving this book, and will enable greater access to its contents in the future.
We welcome any further photographs or materials that may be donated to this project, either as originals for safe keeping, or for digitising and the originals returned to their owner. This project is intended to be an open and ongoing commitment to collecting church and local area archives for the future.
I would like to thank Simon Crome for his time and commitment working through with me all the digitised items week by week, and for his meticulous work on the database which is a permanent record for the future and will form the basis for the online catalogue.
At Surrey History Centre, my thanks to Guz Gonzales, who with his skill, patience and encouragement is enabling me to digitise and edit the big archives book and additional materials, and to Sally Jenkinson, the Community Archives Advisor, the liaison contact who has facilitated the partnership,
Pam Tiller April 2019