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Home » News » Shropshire history project brought back to life with University Centre support

Shropshire history project brought back to life with University Centre support

More than 200 people gathered at University Centre Shrewsbury's learning and research base for the Shropshire re-launch of "England's greatest community history project". The University Centre hosted the Victoria County History (VCH) Shropshire re-launch on Saturday October 31, at Guildhall in Frankwell Quay, bringing together both academics and amateur history enthusiasts from across England.

Founded in 1899 and originally dedicated to Queen Victoria, the VCH is an encyclopaedic record of England's places and people from earliest times to the present day. Based at the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London since 1933, the VCH is written by historians working in counties across the country.

VCH has an ambitious plan, to write the history of every parish and town in England. VCH was active in Shropshire until about a decade ago. However with funding from VCH Head Office, the first volume of a two-volume history of Shrewsbury was published in the familiar red book form last year. The content will shortly be accessible to all when it is added to the British History Online digital library.

The Shropshire re-launch event featured a talk by Prof Richard Hoyle, Director and General Editor of the VCH, outlining 'VCH Shropshire: Past, Present and Future'.

Two further lectures were presented; the first by Prof Keith Lilley from Queen's University Belfast, entitled 'The Forms and Formation of Medieval Towns of the Marches', and the second by well-known local historian, Dr Barrie Trinder, entitled 'Shropshire Market Towns since 1660'.

University Centre Shrewsbury Provost, Anna Sutton, said: "VCH plays a vital part in the promotion of English local history - and we were honoured to host the re-launch of the Shropshire project at our new learning and research base.

"We are extremely lucky to have such a rich heritage on our doorstep, making Shropshire a fantastic place to study, work and live. The VCH is helping to ensure that this is recorded and celebrated.

"The re-launch was the first major public event in our new academic year and we will be continuing to hold events throughout the year, free wherever possible, at Guildhall and Rowley's House for everyone to enjoy."

VCH Shropshire spokesman, Nigel Hinton added: "The interest created by the publication in summer 2014 of VCH Shropshire VI, Shrewsbury part 1, suggested that the moment was ripe to canvass support for the re-establishment of VCH in the county after a decade or more largely in abeyance. This support was forthcoming and a committee has been formed to take the project forward.

"It was wonderful to see so many people at the Shropshire re-launch event for England's greatest community history project."

VCH Shropshire is now planning a range of fundraising events, and its publication programme includes a VCH short publication on Wem in north Shropshire in late 2016 and the revival of work on Bradford Hundred in the north-east of the county, to resume where VCH staff left off a decade ago.

It has space and roles for many more supporters - as volunteer researchers and fundraisers for example - and invites anyone who feels committed to the revival of VCH Shropshire to join the county committee.

The committee is chaired by Prof Hoyle, and also includes Dr James Bowen of the University of Liverpool as secretary and Nigel Hinton as treasurer. Other committee members include Mary McKenzie, Shropshire Archives' team leader and Prof Tim Jenkins, University Centre Shrewsbury's Programme Manager.