Winter 2021 Issue - 166

Barrow’s Heritage Warden makes a plea for help!

Kathryn is on a mission: she is trying to find a permanent home for the wealth of documents that are Barrow’s historical archive. True, most of them are already digitised and freely available on the excellent Barrow Heritage website (, but historians are nervous about believing that digital records will last forever. Think of all those photos on floppy discs! Whereas paper, when properly stored, does last.

 Kathryn reading the Victorian Minutes  
 Book of the Barrow Board School

She and the rest of the Heritage Group would like to find a place where the public can view the documents, photos and maps; where they are safe and secure; where displays could be created and visited: a Barrow micro-museum.
If you have a good idea or, even better, a space that might be offered, please ring Alice at the Parish Office on 01509 416016.

The Heritage Group was formed in 2006 as result of the research that went into creating Barrow’s Local Plan (the predecessor to the Local Neighbourhood Plan). Arthur Gardner, who was leading the work, noted that there was enough interest to form a permanent group that would research aspects of Barrow’s past. If you go onto their website, you will be truly amazed at their industry with reports of their researches into local pubs, farms, shops, churches, schools, buses, streets, gravestones, memorials, events and celebrations, to name but a few. They also regularly set up displays and give talks.

When Arthur became gravely ill, he asked Kathryn to take over as Barrow’s Heritage Warden, which she accepted on the understanding that she would never beThe Boss!

The Heritage Group meets up at each other’s houses about every six weeks to share progress and nuggets of their findings. During lockdowns members carried on researching without the meetings. They are currently working through the Minutes Book of the Barrow Board School.

These give a fascinating insight into Victorian life through the records of this Cotes Road elementary school. Although Kathryn is a modern languages graduate, she has been interested in history and especially local history for a long time. Her husband George was a history graduate and as a teacher and teacher trainer he was involved in several projects to teach children about the history of their local area, encouraging them to look at what was around about them and find the evidence which was there in buildings, street names, the landscape etc. As a result of this, on retirement, Kathryn took a diploma in local history at Loughborough library.

Kathryn has become increasingly aware that her interest is in the lives of ordinary people living ordinary lives in ordinary places. When I asked her which project she had found most interesting she came up with two: investigating the development of schooling provision and, also, researching the lives of the people who are remembered in the memorials in Holy Trinity church. But she found the most surprising finds came from a study of farms and of shops. Essentially, the old farming order was toppled after WWII with the removal of hedges and the introduction of big machines as Britain aimed to be self-sufficient. Before that, Barrow farms mostly focused on providing for the needs of the village. Their products were sold in Barrow shops hence there were seven butchers as late as 1966. People didn’t need to travel away from Barrow to do their shopping. Not long ago we had shops selling hardware, millinery, haberdashery, knitting materials, furniture, bakery, drapery, shoes, fish, fruit and veg as well as grocers, chemist, cafes and hairdressers as today.

The study of these topics nearly always includes trawling through old original documents that have survived the passage of time, often against all the odds. So many important records are simply thrown out when a building changes hands. The Heritage Group has amassed many boxes of old documents, photos and maps, mostly stored under beds, in attics and in wardrobes. Members are anxious to give them a permanent home. Let’s see if, together, we can find a good solution.

Judith Rodgers

Barrow Voice is published by Barrow upon Soar Community Association.(BUSCA) Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial committee or the Community Association.

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