Cataloguing and conserving Bracknell Development Corporation
From November 2022-November 2023, Berkshire Record Office, in collaboration with other archives, is working on the New Jerusalem’s project, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust and aims to catalogue and conserve the records of 11 New Towns in the UK including Bracknell, Stevenage, Crawley, and Peterlee, so that these records become more accessible. In this blog, Project Archivist, Evangeline Mills, tells us a little more about the project and the collection.
Here at Berkshire Record Office, we hold the records of the Bracknell Development Corporation. The project involves cataloguing and preserving the records alongside the conservation team.
The Bracknell Development Corporation oversaw, managed, and developed Bracknell from its New Town designation in 1949 under the New Towns Act, 1946, until 1982 when the Corporation was dissolved. Bracknell was chosen as a New Town because it had a train station, was close to the M4 motorway and was close to London, which had suffered heavy bombing during the Second World War and was cramped and overcrowded.
This is the front cover of a pamphlet created by the Bracknell Development Corporation to showcase their plans for the development of Bracknell Town Centre in 1963 (ref. NTB/G26/4/5).
Bracknell Town Centre was re-developed, with new shops, offices, and homes during the 1960s, after the original designation area for Bracknell was extended twice during the 1960s and Bracknell’s target population increased from 25,000 to 50,000.
The pamphlet includes an artist’s impression of what Bracknell Town Centre would look like with shops, benches, trees, and people as seen here on page 10.
Bracknell Town Centre has been recently redeveloped and so these illustrations may be familiar to local residents who remember the Town Centre’s previous design and some who may even remember when the Town Centre was being built during the 1960s.
As part of the project, preservation tasks will be carried out such as repackaging records into acid-free folders and boxes as well as removing staples, paperclips and sellotape. This will help preserve records for present and future generations.
Many people use sellotape and other adhesives to attach documents and photographs to paper. Over time, sellotape discolours and can become hard and brittle. It can also leave a mark and even residue on whatever it touches, as can be seen on this press cutting from the collection which has yellow marks where the sellotape once was. Any sellotape and/or residue will need to be removed in order to prevent it sticking to other records and causing further damage.
Over the next nine months the project will work to ensure the collection is housed in the best possible conditions. Evangeline hope to share more discoveries along the way as she completes the project.
[Please note that the Bracknell Development Corporation Collection is currently being catalogued and may not be available to order at this time.].