Archive is moving up in the world

So, with the Group Relocation Archive project being granted a glorious 6 month extension, I have been busy relocating the entirety of the project from one basement to another.  This time, with shelves!

From 3 levels down to a Hollywood-esque 2 levels down (moving up in the world!), everything is finally together.  The 800+ boxes, 3500+ architects’ plans, hundreds of paintings, photographs and artefacts are safe and happy in their new basement space.

Of course it is not yet ideal, much of the material does not fit on the shelves (I intend to cajole a colleague or two into helping me adjust the shelves and fiddle with the space a bit), it has not been catalogued and there is still so much out there to collect.  However, no problem is impossible!  I am really excited about it all being popped on shelves some time in the near future and then access (and the state of my back) will be so much better, we can  hopefully start thinking about cataloging this beast and packaging it properly.  And of course, I’m still ferreting around departments collecting records.

FLASHBACK: Remember what it used to look like?:

3rd basement down. Bad for the material and hell on my back.
A dusty, dark, airless vault room. 5 minutes in here and you’re sneezing black for a week.

Now, here’s an exclusive of what it looks like at the moment, pre-shelving completion:

LOOK AT HOW MUCH LIGHT THERE IS! So, this is the main body of the archive. It continues to the end of the room (about 12 rows of shelving on this side), and you can see some of the frames and the big metal plan chests sitting pretty at the end of the aisles.
Most of the aisles look something like this. Or just stacked with boxes that don’t fit on the shelves.
This is the other side of the project space. Boxes, boxes and more boxes! Oh, and a comptometer.
And then we have all the ledgers. Note: red rot on leather ledgers is a MENACE. I shall invent some archive urban camouflage wear that is rusted burgundy themed, and make my fortune!  To the right are 2 large plan chests.
And then last but by no means least, we have the plans of CWS premises no longer in piles in a dusty bank vault. HUZZAH!


So, to bring you up to speed:

  • The project is continuing until the 30th of June 2013.
  • We are still acquisitioning material from the Group, and hopefully when they move over to Angel Sq we shall see some more records come our way.
  • A first draft of the catalogue structure of the whole thing has been completed.
  • The material has been used to illustrate the forthcoming book on the history of the Co-operative Group (as well as being research material for its writers).
  • Material is being used to inspire designers working on putting the final touches to Angel Sq, to add a sense of legacy in display cases etc.
  • We are also being consulted on the impending 150th anniversary celebrations of the Co-operative Group.
  • We want to get it packaged properly as far as our resources allow, to guard against some common disasters such as mis-handling, being knocked off shelves etc, leakage and spills from the floor above etc.

Things are moving fast and it’s still great fun to be involved with it!  I was really inspired by a study trip to London with my university, and have some burgeoning ideas about what the archive can accomplish.  Fingers crossed!

As always, if you have any questions then please pop them in a comment below.


One very chuffed archivist.

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