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