Colin Sheady is one of our Archives Ambassadors for Wales 2019. In this article Colin explains how he first became interested in archives, and how this led to a volunteering role at Flintshire Record Office.
My introduction to Flintshire Record Office came about a few years ago, almost by accident. The history of the local area and its inhabitants has always fascinated me, but it wasn’t until my granddaughter asked for my help with a school project regarding family tree that I decided to really delve into the surrounding area’s past.
Using a variety of online sites and accessible records, I could see something of a mosaic of our ancestry coming together, but with a number of holes peppered throughout. I approached the Record Office in Hawarden to see if they could assist me in finding the missing pieces of the puzzle.
I was pleasantly surprised by the level of skill and professionalism that I received from the staff, who helped me discover names, addresses and other bits of information that would have otherwise been lost to time.
The work and research put into my granddaughter’s project, and most certainly the outcome, all left a lasting impression on me, so when it came time for me to retire I knew that I wanted to offer my services to Flintshire Record Office any way I could. Thankfully, I was invited to take part in an initiative alongside Mark Allen, the Conservator, to protect the thousands of archived documents by making bespoke boxes for records that cover centuries of Flintshire’s local history.
Once the initiative came to a close, I was given the opportunity by Steve Davies, one of the Archivists, to continue my work at the Record Office by entering into a database the details of Flintshire planning applications stored within the archives. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity, as I felt my curiosity still hadn’t been sated. The records dated back as far as the mid-19th Century and covered most of the towns in the county, including some which are now considered a part of Denbighshire. These fascinating records chronicle the history that the area’s towns underwent, progressing from small boroughs to larger, well-known communities filled with services and facilities that helped sustain the increase in population.
The greater details aside, the work I conduct is incredibly rewarding to me. I get to discover the names of families that would have otherwise been forgotten, significant events that helped shape the landscape are readily available at my fingertips, and the rise and fall of industries take place before my very eyes. I find it a great honour to work with these records and help chronicle the history of my country, and in doing so, become a significant part of the very thing I’ve come to love so much.
If you are interested in a volunteering role, you can find the contact details for your local archive service here: Contact Us