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Restricted Access to Collections

The Archives searchroom is now open again following flood damage. However, access to some collections is still limited, particularly parts of our collections of inclosure maps, wills, parish registers and motor vehicle licensing records. Please contact us on 01296 382587 or before visiting.

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2. Archive of the month

County of Buckingham County Record Office: History and progress of the department and Register of Acquisitions (May 1938 – 1940s)


May marks the 80th birthday of Buckinghamshire County Council’s archive function.  No document represents this better than this volume, titled “County of Buckingham County Record Office: History and progress of the department and Register of Acquisitions”.  This volume has no reference number as it forms part of our working records; as such it is never brought out for the public to see.


As the title suggests, this volume does a couple of different jobs: it lists the accessions to the Archive collection, and it records the story of the earliest months of the new Record Office.  By far the most impressive page is the first page, titled “History of the Bucks County Record Office, Aylesbury”.  It records that on the 5th April, Colonel Guy R. Crouch, Clerk of the Peace for the county, presented the case for the appointment of an Archivist, to the Standing Joint Committee of Bucks County Council.  This is the event that triggered the establishment of a Record Office in Buckinghamshire, which has, evolved over the past eighty year to become part of the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. 


Reading on, we see that the first storage spaces for records were four cells in the basement of the Council building that fronted on to Market Square in Aylesbury.  The cells had to be damp-proofed and fitted with steel shelving.  Today, we think that these cells are treatment rooms for a beauty salon.



Once they had space to store records, the Council needed an Archivist to manage them. M. Paul Dare was appointed as County Archivist on 16th May 1938.  With a background in historical research, manorial archives and archaeology, Dare was judged fit for the role.  He was found an office above the Archive cells.  One of his first tasks was to arrange for the cleaning and storage of a large number of statutory plans that had been damaged by damp.  Dare also had to ensure that the conditions in the cells were optimal for the preservation of the documents, as we do in our strong rooms today.  Dare’s approach was a little different to ours though – he purchased two fans and two two-bar heaters.  The basement location of the cells was clearly causing problems for the condition of the archives…in November 1938 the cell doors had to be altered in order to better protect the archive collections from the dust created by the neighbouring coal cellars.


This volume is also our first Accession Register: a log of new collections made at the time of their deposit.  The register is our primary source of provenance information about our archives, and a tool that we still use today.  The register tells us that in 1938 thirteen accessions were logged: the first item in to the collection was a draft version of the Amersham Inclosure Award.  Also taken in that year were papers of Challoner’s Grammar School, and records connected to the Wendover-Buckingham and Wendover-Oak Lane turnpike roads.

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Last updated: 8 May 2018

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