Goetre Primary Takeover Day

Glamorgan Archives has been taken over by Goetre Primary, Methyr Tydfil!  The group working in community engagement have written a blog about what they found out at the Archives.


In the Workhouse there were no non-working days for the children because if they ate there they had to work there too! There is a lot of history about the two towns Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil. Goetre pond and the Boathouse are now covered up with mud and grass. The oldest object the Glamorgan Archives have is nearly 850 years old. There are diaries about children written by the headmaster in 1862 – Libby and Samia


In the strong rooms you can make the shelves move by turning left and right and the middle button can lock by pushing it and unlocks by pulling it – Lewis


Thomas Barry stole 6 rhubarb tarts and he ended up in jail for 14 days and went to reformatory school when he was 7 and a half.  The oldest thing was 850 years old it was a piece of paper from Henry II it was called a grant – Alicia and Elle


We found out that Goitre pond was there a couple of years ago and there was a boat shed but today it isn’t there it is covered up to be a little forest – Cameron and Callum


Glamorgan Archives Joint Committee

Our 75th anniversary blog comes to an end with the final post recording our 75 75th deposits.

The Glamorgan Archives Joint Committee is the governing body of Glamorgan Archives.  In its current form it comprises 16 elected members from each of the funding authorities in proportion to population so Cardiff has 5 members, Rhondda Cynon Taf has 4, Bridgend, Caerphilly and the Vale of Glamorgan send 2 each while Merthyr Tydfil has a single representative.  The role of chair and vice-chair is shared between the authorities, changing annually according to an agreed rota so that each authority holds the chair over a period of 6 years.  There is provision for a number of co-opted members deemed to have knowledge and experience of value to the Joint Committee in its deliberations, and authorities also send officers to observe.  Cardiff, as the authority providing support services, usually fields financial, legal and secretariat officers.  Voting is confined to elected members only.

The committee meets at least 4 times a year and the Glamorgan Archivist takes a report on activities to each meeting.  All papers can be read on Cardiff’s web site where meeting dates are also posted.  Meetings, which are always held in Glamorgan Archives, are generally open to the public.

Elected members have always been strongly supportive of the archives and its activities.  Members are our link to the local authorities which fund the joint service.  They are active archive champions without whom the new building could never have been achieved.  They approve our annual plan of work and receive updates on progress towards anticipated targets throughout the year as well as agreeing the budget to be passed to each authority for final approval.  The Glamorgan Archivist is appointed directly by the Joint Committee to manage archive services for the 6 authorities and to control the agreed budget.

We have been fortunate to have been able to retain members for long periods ensuring a continuity of experience; some current members were on the joint committee back in the days of Mid and South Glamorgan County Councils.  New members continue to bring enthusiasm and commitment.  Members have also contributed to the archives as depositors and some of their deposits form the 75th accession in several years.  We continue to be grateful for their support and look forward to working with them in the future.

The Hughesovka Research Archive

John Hughes was a Welsh Industrialist whose life’s work continues to influence modern day affairs. Born 200 years ago in Merthyr Tydfil, John had worked for and owned a number of industrial concerns in both South Wales and London when in 1869 he acquired a concession from the Imperial Russian Government to develop a metal works in the largely unpopulated Donbas region on land to the north of the Azov Sea on the banks of the Kalmius river. The area was known as Novorossiya (literally New Russia) and had been conquered by Russia from the Zaporizhians, Crimean Tartars and the Ottomans within the previous century. By the mid 19th century Russians were colonizing the area in great numbers building towns and industries.

 John Hughes founded the ‘New Russia Company Ltd’ and in 1870 sailed in a fleet of 8 ships to Russia. On board was all the equipment needed to establish an ironworks, along with skilled Welsh ironworkers and miners. Construction of the new ironworks began immediately, and developed into a state of the art facility with eight blast furnaces capable of a full production cycle. It produced its first pig iron in 1872. During the 1870s collieries, iron ore mines and brickworks were constructed and the area was became a self supporting industrial centre. The town that grew to support the concern was known as Hughesovka (Юзовка) after its founder. 

Blast furnaces at Hughesovka

Blast furnaces at Hughesovka

The town prospered and by the early 20th century was producing nearly three quarters of Russia’s iron. After John Hughes’ death in 1889 the works were managed by four of his sons, but with the Bolshevik revolution the family’s connection with the works came to an end. However, in the years preceding this many Welsh and British workers had emigrated. Most left after the revolution although descendants of British workers can still be found locally.

The city was renamed Stalino in 1924, and changed again in 1961 to its current name, Donetsk. The local football team, Shakhtar (Miners) Donetsk, is a Europa cup regular. Nicknamed the moles because of the area’s mining connections, their strip supposedly matches Newport County’s because John Hughes’ first business was based in Newport. Donetsk now finds itself in the news again because of tensions between Ukraine and Russia over this Eastern Ukrainian province.

Two of the seventy-five 75th accessions relate to Hughesovka. These form part of a large collection of material. To find out more about Hughesovka and the related documents held here at Glamorgan Archives take a look at our Hughesovka Research Archive web pages http://www.glamarchives.gov.uk/hughesovka/hka-index.html


John Lethbridge,  works manager, with his daughters

John Lethbridge, works manager, with his daughters


Glamorgan Record Office, 1939-1989 – a celebration postponed

This year we celebrate the 75th birthday of Glamorgan Archives. 1989 saw the 50th anniversary of what was then Glamorgan Record Office. Here is the article marking that anniversary, written by County Archivist Mrs Patricia Moore for the Annual Report for 1989:

The Glamorgan Record Office was set up by Glamorgan County Council in 1939, and Emyr Gwynne Jones was appointed the first full-time county archivist in Wales – only Monmouthshire had previously made any provision for the care of its records, appointing a consultant in 1938.

The post-war work of building up an accumulation of archives within the county by inviting the gift or deposit of material proceeded with vigour under Miss Madeleine Elsas, who was Jones’ successor. Today, a Joint Service funded by the three new Counties of Glamorgan consists of the headquarters of the Office in County Hall, Cathays Park, Cardiff, an Area Record Office in West Glamorgan’s County Hall, Swansea, and a Record Repository in South Glamorgan’s County Hall on Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff. Two busy searchrooms, in Cardiff and Swansea, cater for more than 6,000 visitors each year, and some collections are housed in a further half-dozen outside storage repositories. Total holdings now occupy between five and six miles of shelving. Unfortunately, the staffing establishment has not seen a corresponding increase; Glamorgan has a staff of 9 archivists, which may sound generous until compared with 12 in Hampshire, 15 in Kent and 17 in West Yorkshire. Furthermore, we have to divide ourselves between three main repositories.

Recovery work in the strongrooms

Recovery work in the strongrooms

The year which should have seen a celebration of our achievements, however, took on quite a different aspect when we found ourselves having to take swift emergency measures. During the winter of 1988/89 we experienced a rising level of humidity in several strongrooms, which would not respond to our attempts to control it. When we called in Mid Glamorgan officials to examine the foundations of the building our problems were found to result from unsuspected high water levels under County Hall. We were forced to employ every available member of staff to meet this emergency, and in consequence the public searchroom in Cardiff was closed for four months. Over a mile of records had to be examined, logged and evacuated, floor covering taken up, and racking dismantled. Mid Glamorgan’s explorations to discover the cause of the trouble, and attempts to control it are continuing. So also does our monitoring of the collections which remain in Cathays Park, to ensure that no harm comes to them through adverse conditions. Although we enjoyed a commemorative birthday cake we had little heart for other celebrations, and time which would have been spent on new publications and other activities had to be devoted to ‘dead work’ in the strongrooms. We are still endeavouring to cope with the backlog or correspondence and requests which arose during the closure, and the evacuated documents still remain inaccessible to the public. The contractors continue their examination of the situation, and some remedial work is already in hand.

Recovery work in the strongrooms

Recovery work in the strongrooms

The theme of ‘water’ had been chosen by the staff for their contributions to this Report before our humidity problems were known. Little did we realise that water would dominate 1989 in the GRO.

West Glamorgan Archive Service

Some of the 75th accessions we listed are no longer with us; some have been transferred to Swansea, to the West Glamorgan Archive Service which developed from a Glamorgan Record Office branch.

When the historic county of Glamorgan was divided into 3 by the Local Government Act, implemented in 1974, the new counties of Mid, South and West Glamorgan, in an early example of cross boundary co-operation, agreed to support a single joint archive service, based on the existing record office. The service continued in its Cathays Park location and West Glamorgan County Council declared its intention of providing for a West Glamorgan Area Record Office within the service, from which the needs of its population could more effectively be met. Through the late 1970s several properties were considered for this role including a nuclear bunker and a redundant church, all ruled out by conversion costs. Accommodation in the new county hall was eventually accepted although completion date was not until 1982.

In the meantime, records continued to be housed, accessioned and listed in Cardiff with an access point staffed once a month in a room provided by Swansea University’s History Department. By August 1982 County Hall was completed and the monthly searchroom moved into the West Glamorgan Area Record Office. The repository received Lord Chancellor’s approval in October 1983. Agreed sections of the Collection were transferred to the new premises from late October and the Office opened to the public on 5 March 1984.

A designated West Glamorgan Archivist was appointed in October 1982. Elisabeth Bickford remained in post until August 1987, succeeded by Susan Beckley in January 1988. Staff from the Cardiff headquarters supplemented the establishment and also worked on a guide to holdings in the branch.

West Glamorgan Archive Service

West Glamorgan Archive Service

In April 1992 West Glamorgan County Council withdrew from the Joint Archive Service. The former branch became the West Glamorgan County Record Office. The division of furniture and equipment and outstanding financial payments were amicably resolved and the division of the Collection was largely straightforward with the exception of a handful of disputed series. Co-operation between the two offices has continued and there is a healthy tradition of staff exchange. West Glamorgan Archive Service also celebrated its own anniversary this year with a successful open day. It was enlarged in the second round of local government reorganisation through a merger with the City of Swansea Archive, continuing as a joint service for the City and County of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, and is firmly established as an active service and a major contributor to Welsh archive initiatives.

Elisabeth Bennett - Richard Burton Archive

Elisabeth Bennett – Richard Burton Archive

The first Area Archivist, now Elisabeth Bennett, heads the Richard Burton Archive at Swansea University, the first Welsh office to gain Archive Service Accreditation under the newly introduced scheme.

We are proud to say that we are family!

Seventy Five Seventy Fives

Glamorgan Archives is 75 this year.  We share seniority in Wales with our neighbour, Gwent: they were the first to set up an archive service (1938) but we were the first to appoint an archivist (1939).  The county showed impeccable timing with the result that our anniversary year will also be shared with two world wars and one national strike to name but a few of the major commemorations we will also be marking in 2014.

Glamorgan Archives

The first County Archivist, Emyr Gwynne Jones, soon moved on, becoming Bangor University’s Librarian in 1946.  He has had only 4 successors and this continuity of senior staff is reflected in the continuity of the service’s core function, defined by Madeleine Elsas in 1959 as: the task of preserving records, restoring them, collecting additional material about the geographical county, and making these records freely available.”

To celebrate our 75 years of care for the documents of Glamorgan we have trawled the lists of accessions and extracted the 75th deposit received in each year.  Some of them have been transferred, some have been removed from the Collection.  Some years fewer than 75 accessions were received.  All illustrate something about the history and development of local authority archive services in general and Glamorgan Archives in particular.  Archive staff will be blogging about the 75s throughout the year, either as single items or as categories. 

We hope you’ll enjoy reading our blog and we look forward to receiving your comments.