Jonathan Scott vis­its Not­ting­hamshire, the home of Wil­liam Lee – in­ven­tor of the stock­ing frame, which trans­formed tex­tile pro­duc­tion and helped ig­nite the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Trace your Not­ting­hamshire an­ces­tors

The Not­ting­hamshire Ar­chives build­ing in Cas­tle Meadow Road, Not­ting­ham, first opened its doors in 1993. Since that time it has grad­u­ally run out of space, and ear­lier this year it re­opened fol­low­ing a £2.5mil­lion in­vest­ment pro­ject to im­prove, re­fur­bish and ex­pand.

County Ar­chiv­ist Ruth Ime­son says that to­day it is al­most un­rec­og­niz­able: “The pub­lic ar­eas have been com­pletely re­fur­bished with a mod­ern feel and are spa­cious and wel­com­ing… Our users have been very un­der­stand­ing: a year of builders and a pe­riod of clo­sure was in­evitable, and I would like to thank ev­ery­one for their sup­port.”

Most im­por­tantly, away from the pub­lic ar­eas, there’s now stor­age space for an ad­di­tional 20 years of ar­chiv­ing, plus a com­pletely re­vamped “build­ing man­age­ment sys­tem”. Ruth says: “That’s ex­cit­ing to us be­cause it en­sures the stron­groom en­vi­ron­ment is reg­u­lated, thereby preserving the county’s her­itage for decades to come. Our new cool room is a pop­u­lar fea­ture of pub­lic tours: come and find out what use an ar­chiv­ist has for a gi­ant walk-in fridge – it’s not for keep­ing our sand­wiches in!”

There’s also ad­di­tional events space, de­signed to al­low for more in­ter­ac­tive and fam­i­lyfriendly events. “We want peo­ple to use this as a com­mu­nity and so­cial hub, where vis­i­tors can talk to each other about the work they are do­ing and look at the won­der­ful her­itage we have.”

While there are other repos­i­to­ries hold­ing im­por­tant county ma­te­rial, if you’re just start­ing your re­search into an in­di­vid­ual or fam­ily line in Not­ting­hamshire, this will cer­tainly be your start­ing point. Hold­ings range from a 12th­cen­tury char­ter to 20th-cen­tury blue­prints. “If you can imag­ine a topic, per­son or place re­lated to the county, the chances are that we can find some­thing to aid your re­search or en­ter­tain you.”

The ‘point of en­try’ for many fam­ily his­to­ri­ans is the vast col­lec­tion of the Dio­cese of South­well and Not­ting­ham. “There are over 300 parishes in the net­work and the bap­tism, mar­riage and burial reg­is­ters are ex­tremely com­pre­hen­sive.” But she adds that busi­ness col­lec­tions are also more per­sonal than you might think: “Con­sider the data your em­ployer holds about you,” she says. And ma­jor com­pany col­lec­tions held here in­clude those of the Atkey Mo­tor Car Com­pany, the Co-Op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety of Not­ting­ham, John Player Cig­a­rette Man­u­fac­turer, the Raleigh Cy­cle Com­pany and the Not­ting­ham Play­house.

The most sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­tries for Not­ting­hamshire have been

Hold­ings at Not­ting­hamshire Ar­chives range from a 12th-cen­tury char­ter to 20th-cen­tury blue­prints

Who Do You Think You Are? South­well Min­ster, dat­ing from around 1300, in South­well,


A man at work con­struct­ing a bi­cy­cle at the Raleigh fac­tory in Not­ting­ham, 1964

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