Just over £38K has been awarded to the Berkshire Record Office to catalogue an exceptional archive for one of England’s great waterways – the River Thames.
The BRO holds the archive of the Thames Conservancy (the historical body responsible for the management of the river before the Environment Agency and Thames Water), which forms a unique and unbroken record of the river’s management over 200 years.
The Thames Conservancy archive consists of 617 rolls, 569 volumes, 66 files, 32 bundles, 19 documents and 1 box. In terms of size it measures 10 metres by 10 metres by 10 metres. It will take 14 months for one person to catalogue it all!
The catalogue will transform access to this vast collection for researchers interested not only in the Thames but also in topics such as water purity, biodiversity, land drainage and flood management.
The Conservancy ran the Thames from its source until its tidal reach at Teddington. It built the river that we know today – the locks, weirs and towpaths. It was also responsible for prosecuting people who polluted the water, for preventing flooding and for draining land around the river for agricultural or residential use, functions now covered by the Environment Agency and Thames Water.
The ‘Liquid Assets’ project will also feed into a wide range of public engagement events planned for 2021, when the 250th anniversary of the conservancy will be celebrated.
Berkshire Record Office is one of nine projects in the UK to receive funding. The award is part of the ‘Archives Revealed’ programme, which is supported by The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation, which transforms access to archives for a wide range of users.
The programme’s cataloguing grants open up collections that matter to researchers and communities, increasing public engagement with the UK’s rich documentary heritage.
Full details of the 2019 Archives Revealed awards can be found on the National Archives website: Archives Revealed