Proposed Archive & Resources Centre
This page gives information about a new community initiative to set up a Centre for local archives and resources. This would bring together, preserve and add to the wealth of historical documents, photographs and other memorabilia currently held by individuals and groups throughout the villages and communities which comprise the three parishes of Fairlight, Pett and Guestling. The name selected for this project is ARC (Archive & Resources Centre).
Historically, the various communities in the three parishes have been inextricably linked and therefore we wish to establish ARC as a joint venture, pooling resources, sharing information and drawing on the skills of local people, and hopefully strengthening connections between the communities.
The archive collection would be:
- centrally housed
- accessible to ARC members – individuals or groups
- used for research; learning; knowledge; interest
- run by volunteers
Plans are now under way to secure a permanent and secure space within Pett Village Hall to hold the archive, and funding initiatives are in progress for appropriate IT equipment and software. Membership would enable access to the collections; online membership by individuals and organisations, wherever based, would be encouraged.
We very much hope that you will want to support this initiative and will follow our progress over the coming months. We will keep you informed of developments via the usual parish media. An inaugural annual meeting of ARC has been pencilled in for late April.
Further information about the ARC project is set out below.
The ARC Project Steering Group
ARC – Further Information
The aim is to establish a local archive resource for the benefit of people from all the villages within the boundaries of the three parishes of Fairlight, Guestling and Pett (the “three parishes“). Many of our residents hold interesting and potentially important documents, photographs and other materials which record their family story and, by extension, the story of this area.
Currently, there is the danger that when an individual dies, this material ends up either gathering dust in a relative’s attic (at best) or being dumped or destroyed (at worst). We believe there is a need for, and the community would also take an active interest in, a local archiving resource to collect and preserve these materials. It would also serve as a research tool for those wanting to know more about aspects of local history.
It is not our intention to replicate, on a local level, the functions of The Keep in Falmer. Original and potentially valuable documents can be sent there in the usual way. Where that is the case, the ARC would retain copies, scanned and held digitally. Or if families wish to retain originals or hard copies for themselves, that can be accommodated in the same way. As regards photograph albums and artefacts, these of course could be held physically.
At the other extreme, neither is it our intention to recreate a kind of virtual curiosity shop for casual browsers of memorabilia. People can of course browse if they wish, but access will be via membership and will be designed to accommodate specific research. The materials will be archived and catalogued in a professional manner to facilitate search processes.
We have identified potential premises for the ARC within the Village Hall at Pett. Discussions with the Pett Village Hall Committee are continuing promisingly. We would need to raise some funds to create a secure, dedicated space for the ARC within the building, but it seems eminently feasible.
Some have asked why, in the internet age, we need premises at all. Why don’t we simply maintain the digital archive in the “cloud” with online access via a dedicated website? There are several answers to that, but crucially we need to ensure that the archive is both physically secure and has a strong sense of permanence (especially to reassure donors of archive materials). In addition, we envisage that the master digital archive is held offline (so that it is not vulnerable to viruses, can’t be hacked or modified etc.) and that access by members can be controlled. We will however use current technology to facilitate the broad use of downloaded material, accessed remotely.
Joint community venture
ARC will be a single resource, rather than three separate parish initiatives whose archives would inevitably overlap with one another. It also makes sense to pool our resources, particularly as the ARC will need suitable premises and will purchase its own dedicated IT equipment and software. Thirdly, the ARC will be able to draw on the skills and time of interested individuals from across the three parishes, including those who focus on local history.
We also hope that the ARC would be a community resource whereby people across the three parishes can come together. And in doing so, reinvigorate the connections between them. Open days and exhibitions would encourage that linkage.
A considerable amount of preparatory work has been done already. To summarise:-
- A core group of ‘stakeholders’ have come together to establish the framework for the ARC. Our informal discussion meetings have attracted around 20 interested individuals. A number of local historians from both Pett and Fairlight (Paul Draper, Martin King, Hayden Luke, Amanda Snowdon and others) have participated in these discussions, as well as Cllr. Chris Saint of Rother DC and David Penfold, Chair of Pett Parish Council. We very much want to develop participation from Guestling and Three Oaks residents as well, and as soon as possible.
- We have settled on our name: “The Archive and Resources Centre” which is abbreviated as “the ARC”. We are not, we should add, a history group, but we do expect local history societies to be affiliated with us and to be significant users of our resources and services. Fairlight has for example, recently launched its own History Group.
- We have drawn up a draft constitution for the organisation, with a view to its being approved at an inaugural public meeting, when its officers and a committee will be formally appointed. It will be established as a members’ club with the customary protocols and its assets held in trust. At this stage we consider it unnecessary to incorporate the organisation, but this will be reviewed over time.
- We have, as mentioned above, identified potential premises for the ARC within the Village Hall at Pett. We need to raise some funds to create a secure, dedicated space for the ARC within the building.
- We have identified and seen in action a specialist software product which will be purchased to create the digital archive and upload donated materials. We also have an outline budget for the cost of the relevant hardware needed to support its functions. More information will be provided in subsequent reports.
- While we certainly don’t wish to limit membership to local residents (online membership by individuals and organisations wherever based, would be encouraged), we would nevertheless invite local residents to become members of ARC and their modest subscriptions would give them particular access to the archives, among other things.
- Initial Capital Expenditure (CapEx) Budget – and funding: pending the receipt of estimates from contractors, it is a little premature to state the initial set-up costs precisely, but we expect them to be in the single figure ‘000s. That includes minor building works based on the use of space within Pett Village Hall, and the purchase of hardware and software. Our approach to funding this capex will be to seek out contributions from grant bodies that support community-oriented projects and to supplement that via public donation/membership subscriptions. We would also hope to receive support from the three parish councils and Rother District Council.
- Annual overheads and revenues: once we have raised our initial set-up costs, our ongoing expenses will be modest and, we envisage, covered by a mixture of members’ subscriptions and access and copying charges. Archiving and the Centre’s operations would be maintained by volunteers from among the members.