Sharing Gloucester's rugby roots

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Sharing Gloucester's rugby roots

Posted: 03/11/2008 23:43:54

The story of Gloucester's unique rugby heritage will be brought to life and preserved thanks to a major funding boost for a groundbreaking project.
The Friends of Gloucestershire Archives, Gloucester Rugby and Gloucestershire Archives have secured a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver the Gloucester Rugby Football Club Community Heritage Project. It will cost £88,000 in total.

The project will make publicly available for the first time a wide range of documents, photographs, and sound and video recordings that will cover more than 130 years of the city's rugby history. Much of this material is being provided by Gloucester Rugby and Gloucestershire Archives, but the wider community will also be invited to contribute material at a series of roadshows in the coming months.

The project will be officially launched at Gloucester Rugby's Kingsholm ground before Gloucester's Guinness Premiership match against Northampton on Saturday, November 29th.

Project Manager, Malcolm King of the Friends of the Gloucestershire Archives, said: "This major financial contribution from the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with contributions from the three project partners, will enable us over the course of the next three years to build an online archive.

"This will capture, preserve, celebrate and share Gloucester's rich rugby heritage, revealing its impact and importance for the community.

"We could not have reached this point without the unstinting support of Gloucester Rugby, Gary Little in particular, and Jill Shonk at Gloucestershire Archives, who have worked with me for many months planning this project and preparing our bid for funding."

The money from the Heritage Lottery Fund will be spent on hardware and software for the digital archive, sound and video equipment and training of volunteers. It will also be used to promote learning and outreach activities for audiences of all ages, to produce curriculum-based learning activities for primary and secondary schools, and for interactive displays at the club's Kingsholm ground.

Heather Forbes, Head of Gloucestershire Archives, said: "Gloucester's rugby heritage is something that people care passionately about and is a key part of the county's culture.

"Together with our project partners we are looking forward to working with local people to gather and share the unique stories behind the club and its surrounding Kingsholm community."

Community Marketing Manager at Gloucester Rugby Club, Gary Little, said:

"Gloucester and its rugby legacy is deeply rooted in the community. It holds a significance, shapes opinion and unites like no other sporting institution in this area and has done so for more than a century.

"During that time much of its heritage has been stored or out of sight at Kingsholm which denies our many thousands of supporters the chance to appreciate, understand and learn about the past and the club.

"This funding will allow us to create a facility that brings Gloucester's rich history to life. This will be a living community online archive that will continue to grow as people upload their contributions. It is a great opportunity to make something really special happen."

Gloucester Rugby's Managing Director, Ken Nottage, said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gloucestershire Archives for all their help in making this fabulous project possible.

"We are trying to create a modern facility that befits a modern rugby union side but at the same time, it is vital we respect and honour the roots of the club. This project will achieve this ambition perfectly."

Cllr Ron Allen, Gloucestershire County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Archives, said: "What a good example of co-operative effort on behalf of the Gloucestershire community - to get such a useful grant.

"Rugby is important to so many people in our county and is a part of our joint history, so the establishment of this project will arouse interest right across Gloucestershire."

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, county councillor for Elmbridge, Kingsholm and Westgate, said: "Gloucester is so proud of its rugby club. I'm delighted that the people of Gloucester will have access to the club's fascinating history online.

"Supporters' own archive material will feature as part of the digital archive and new material not seen by the public before will make this a wonderful record of the best rugby team in the land."

Cllr Pam Tracey, county councillor for Westgate, said: "I think it is wonderful that such a major grant has been secured to make this exciting project happen. The rugby club is so important to Gloucester and I put a lot of energy into singing its praises.

"It is one of the jewels of the city in the very heart of it and has been so for generations. Its history is intertwined with that of so many of the local rugby clubs in the county and that means that this project will celebrate their heritage too. That can only be a good thing."

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