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