With best wishes for the future….

Exterior view of Birmingham Town Hall, 1891 [MS 2724/2/B/816]

Exterior view of Birmingham Town Hall, Ernest Brasier, 1891            [MS 2724/2/B/816]

Our wonderful colleague, Alison Smith, retired last week, after nearly 20 years of working with Archives and Heritage. We couldn’t let this go unrecognised and so we asked Alison for a few fond memories…..

 I joined the archives in 1995 as a volunteer. I had been prompted by a visit to Soho House – then in the process of restoration. I seem to remember a stall manned by archives staff (possibly Nick Kingsley, a former colleague who went to work for the National Archives) with an invitation for volunteers….. and that’s how it all started.

For several years thereafter I worked as a volunteer and then as a member of the supply pool. I recall my first volunteer task, checking the contents of the Boulton &Watt portfolios (the engine drawings)  and then describing the contents – number, type, capacity, etc. Fairly early on in the process I found a misfiled drawing and this was a real thrill as it related to a steam engine housed at a nearby mill ( was it Pebble Mill?) and its emergence delighted a regular researcher!

 I’ve enjoyed working with colleagues in the public service team, not only with my experienced and knowledgeable colleagues but equally with many younger members of staff keen to learn and contribute to the service.

 There have been opportunities to assemble displays of archival material associated with particular events, for example the reopening of the Town Hall and the 200th commemoration of Matthew Boulton’s death, and I have enjoyed such opportunities to explore, choose and display such material.

 I feel fortunate to have spent this time working in this particular public service – the time has flown and the working experience has stimulated my own interest in Birmingham’s life and history.

We also asked colleagues the same question and Judy, one of our Archivists, had very fond memories!

My Friend Alison

We have been buddies for a long time and many of the projects that concerned us both were shared ones.

We both were happy to put together exhibitions on various topics of note in the life of the Archives. We produced the Town Hall Exhibition to mark the renovation of the building in 2010 and were very pleased with the result. A happy shared memory of that project was attending one of the first lunchtime organ recitals after the building was opened again to the public and marvelling at the restored grandeur of the beautiful space.

I also remember with fondness (this may be the wrong word!) the “Gloucester Move”, I don’t know whether Alison thinks the same! This involved a huge logistical movement of our archives back to Central Library from an out store in Gloucester Record Office. So, someone was at the Birmingham end making sure there was space to put the returning boxes, which were hopefully coming off the vans in the right order from the Gloucester end. I was the ‘Gloucester end’ with my team of heavies, (my two girlies!) And Alison was at the other end calmly and efficiently (waving and shouting madly), directing operations.

Well we did it right on schedule and even with time to spare. Who says Thunderbirds aren’t Go! Although I’m not sure who was Mr Tracy and who was Brains ….

Will miss my buddy but I’m sure we will be indulging in some shared mischief in the not too distant future.

Happy retirement Alison!

With Love, Judy


I am sure our regular researchers will join all of us in AH&P in thanking Alison for her dedication over the years and wishing her the very best for her retirement. We will certainly miss working with her, and expect to see her back on the other side of the counter!

One response to “With best wishes for the future….

  1. Happy retirement Alison! you will be sadly missed Niky

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