Suffolk Record Office and The Hold

This month, Sarah Doig, Chair of the ‘Friends of Suffolk Record Office’, explains the vital role they play in preserving Suffolk’s archival heritage

The Friends of Suffolk Record Office (FOSRO) was formed in 1983, when we played a key role in raising £250,000 to buy the Elveden manuscripts, now held at the Ipswich branch. As a registered charity, our twin aims are, first, to promote the archives service provided by the County Council, and secondly, to facilitate the acquisition and conservation of archival material of relevance to the historic county of Suffolk.

Since our formation, the FOSRO has purchased many other fine collections for the Suffolk Record Office. In many cases these might have been lost to the county without our action. For instance, we saved the Walton Burrell collection of First World War military photographs, the manorial records of Waldringfield, as well as the Shrubland Hall photographic collection. We have also purchased single items, such as a Victorian account book of a Lowestoft ship’s chandler and a list of subscribers for rebuilding the church tower at Long Melford dating from 1711.

This wonderful image is from the papers of the Collings family of Southwold, principally of Dr Dudley Willis Collings, doctor and first curator of the Southwold Museum. The drawing is of a Scorpion Fish caught off Southwold by Dudley Collings’ son, Herbert, in 1921. This collection was purchased in 2010 jointly by FOSRO and the Southwold Museum and Historical Society.

 Scorpion Fish: LRO 2089

Scorpion Fish: LRO 2089

A familiar Ipswich business of yesteryear is the Tollemache Brewery (which later merged with the Cobbold Brewery, becoming Tolly Cobbold in 1957).  In 2009, FOSRO purchased a twentieth-century Tollemache Brewery minute book which details repairs to property owned by the company. 

Recently, FOSRO has been supporting the Record Office in its project to develop ‘The Hold:  A Suffolk Archives Service for the 21st Century’.  For example, earlier this year we secured a grant of £150,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation. The grant will help to build the new building that forms part of ‘The Hold’ project and supports the project’s overall objectives of engaging a larger and more diverse audience with Suffolk’s archival heritage.  The grant complements an award of £250,000 made earlier this year by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership from their ‘Growing Places Fund’, which is supporting a number of fantastic heritage projects in the region, including Gainsborough’s House, Norwich Castle and the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.

 Artist’s impression of the John Blatchly Local Studies Library

Artist’s impression of the John Blatchly Local Studies Library

We are also raising funds for the ‘John Blatchly Local Studies Library’ within ‘The Hold’ building, as a lasting legacy to one of Suffolk’s finest historians. Please donate generously to help create a stunning space within the main searchroom for the vast collection of local studies books and pamphlets (see www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/blatchlyappeal). 

We welcome new members to FOSRO, asking for a minimum subscription for individuals of just £12. Please visit www.fosro.org.uk for more details.