Delve into Swanage’s history as centre opens its doors for weekend

For the first time in three years, the Swanage History Centre is opening its archive to the public so they can find out more about Purbeck’s past.

The research facility of Swanage Museum was unable to be publicly accessed during Covid restrictions but now it’s holding an open weekend from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November 2022.

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Swanage History Centre

Swanage History Centre on the Victoria Avenue Industrial Estate

Plenty of work happening behind the scenes

While the Swanage History Centre on the Victoria Avenue Industrial Estate was closed during the pandemic, there’s been plenty of work going on behind the scenes.

The archive has been able to expand into two more units allowing more items including historic Swanage art work to be displayed.

John Patrick from Swanage Museum said:

“The open weekend is a good opportunity for local people to come and find out more about their family history or the history of their house.

“We’d also welcome seeing anyone’s old photos or documents relating to Purbeck. We don’t need to keep them – we can just scan them in and keep a digital copy which may help other people’s research in the future.”

Swanage Museum archive

There’s a huge collection of artefacts

John Patrick, Swanage Museum archive

John Patrick delving into the history archive at the centre

Lots of old school photos

The history centre now has the entire archive of the Swanage Grammar School as well as lots of old school photos from Mount Scar First School, now Swanage Primary and Herston First School, now St Mark’s CoE Primary School.

It also houses the entire Swanage Town Council archives, dating back to when it was Swanage Urban District Council. There’s approximately 50,000 scanned documents that include lots of names and places as well as events and changes to the town.

Other historical material available

  • Photographic archive
  • Library of local books and references
  • Duplicate set of art folders
  • Extensive library of art books related to the folders
  • Local and family history research material
  • Swanage Cemetery records
  • Indexes of trade directories and pub landlords
  • Local newspapers on microfilm and original volumes
  • Access to historical censuses
Swanage Museum archive

The history centre has a good collection of artwork depicting Swanage as well as portraits of notable Swanage people like George Burt and John Mowlem

Bob Field, Swanage Musuem archive

Fellow archivist and art historian Bob Field examines an old chart

“There’s so much history in our town”

John Patrick added:

“History is always important – you can learn from history although people don’t always do! We have a huge educational resource here and we can answer all sorts of questions relating to Swanage and Purbeck.

“There’s so much history in our town and there’s probably much more than many people realise. There’s always something new to learn!

Members of the Swanage History Centre will be on hand to answer queries and there will be refreshments available

Further information

  • Swanage History Centre is open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November 2022 at Units 14 and 15, The Sidings, Victoria Avenue Industrial Estate BH19 1 AU. There’s limited parking
  • More about the history centre is on the Swanage Museum website

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