National Volunteers Week 2022: Volunteers at West Sussex Record Office

By Nick Corbo-Stewart, Volunteer Coordinator and Archivist

A lady sitting at a large square table facing away from the camera. On the desk is a laptop and several boxes of documents.
Volunteers working in the searchroom once more!

In April 2022, after two years of having been kept away from the Record Office due to social distancing restrictions imposed by the pandemic, volunteers were allowed to return.

Many of our volunteers have supported the Record Office throughout this difficult period by helping from home via online projects. This invaluable work has meant that many accessions have now been prepared for cataloguing and moved one step closer to researcher access.

Now volunteers are returning, work has re-started started on numerous parish, deed, personal, business, arts, photograph and print collections.

As volunteers return to the Record Office, they will become involved in cataloguing a number of interesting collections which reflect a rich history of industry, arts and preservation within West Sussex.

A close up of someone working at a laptop on Microsoft Excel. They have a folder, the item they are cataloguing, in front of them as well.
Listing onto Microsoft Excel

These include the papers of:

  • APV Baker Ltd (Aluminium and Plant Vessel Company Limited) of Crawley. Founded 10 June 1910 and manufacturer of specialist aluminium plant machinery throughout the 20th century.
  • The Shoreham Preservation Society (renamed Historic Shoreham Preservation Trust, c1967). Their work helped save a number of historic buildings in Shoreham during the latter half of the 20th century from re-development.
  • The Worthing Operatic Society, which includes programmes, cast lists and photographs of its productions during the 20th century.
  • Britax Wingard Ltd of Chichester. Founded in 1930. A motor car accessories and parts supplier to car manufacturers such as Ford, Honda and Nissan.
  • Finally, The Chichester Canal Trust, which was established in 1979 to document and organise renovation work on parts of the canal. These include the records of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal Society, c1979-1982.
Piles of paper records, archival tape, scissors, stamps and other pieces needed to repackage items.
The repackaging process

Coming to the Record Office provides opportunities to learn new skills in transcription, listing, sorting, checking, using information technology and collection handling. It also means volunteers can now meet each other and members of staff who share a passion for the care and development of our archive.

We will continue to offer a remote service for those volunteers unable to get to the Record Office. This includes a number of projects which help support our ongoing research and adding to our knowledge of the collections.

Above all, it is with this continued, valuable support provided by our community of volunteers that allows the Record Office to provide a varied and vibrant public service to all our visitors.

It is a pleasure to thank them for their ongoing support of the Record Office during this National Volunteer Week.

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