'Inspirational' Kent Village Wins Community Archive of the Year 2011

Dr Nick Barratt presenting the Community Archive of the Year Award 2011, in Marden, to David McFarland and Eurice Doswell of the Marden History Group.

Community Archives and Heritage Group gives first national awards to 6 Community Archives

A Heritage Centre in the village of Marden, Kent, has been named Community Archive of the Year.

The announcement was made at the Community Archives & Heritage Group Sixth Annual Conference on Wednesday 27 June.

The award was presented to the group at a special event in Marden by Dr Nick Barrett, academic, researcher, media presenter and member of the Community Archives and Heritage Group Committee.

Six UK community archives won prizes under the awards, with Marden being awarded the overall ‘Community Archive of the Year’ award.

The Marden History Group, run entirely by volunteers, worked with Kent County Council Libraries and Archives to open the Marden Heritage Centre in 2008 within the village’s public library building. The Group designed and equipped the space, which now opens for four half days each week, staffed by volunteers. A family software company – On-click – based in Marden, provided the website which has facilitated cataloguing of and access to the village’s historical records.

 ‘We’re just a village, but we believe we may be the only such centre in the UK to operate in this way and be open for 18 hours each week’ says Marden History Group Chair David McFarland.

 The Group had been gathering artefacts and historical records about the village for a number of years. A key piece of work undertaken was research into a hoard of bronze weapons, tools, ornaments and metal working debris buried in an urn in what is now the parish of Marden nearly 3000 years ago. The Marden hoard is one of the earliest Bronze Age ones found in Kent.

 ‘The Marden story was inspirational’ said Laura Cotton, Chair of the Community Archives and Heritage Group and of the competition judges. ‘The enthusiasm and dedication of the Marden volunteers leapt from the submission; their achievement in opening and running a heritage centre was substantial’.


Marden History Group are the inaugural winners of the only national award for Community Archives. The awards are run by the Community Archives Heritage Group and supported by the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland).

There were 63 submissions to the Community Archives and Heritage Group awards for 2011. The judges praised the high quality of the submissions.

There were six category winners, with Marden History Group being awarded the accolade of overall ‘Community Archive of the Year’:

Winner of ‘Most Interesting’ Community Archive and overall winner of Community Archive of the Year –

Marden History Group


Winner of the ‘Most Innovative’ Community Archive –

Oughterard Culture and Heritage Centre


The Oughterard Heritage website merges images from the past and the present to illustrate the changes in the local urban landscape of this small town in County Galway.  The judges considered the technique ‘inspirational’ and ‘welcoming’.

Winner of the ‘Most Inspirational’ Community Archive – Pride in our Past


The ‘Pride in our Past’ project uncovered and celebrated the little-discussed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history of the City of Plymouth. The project team undertook oral history interviews and collected memorabilia and artefacts to help tell the story. The judges praised the way the project had ‘gathered the voices of and given a voice to often-ignored communities’.

Winner of the ‘Most Impactful’ Community Archive –

Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre


The Planned Environment Therapy Trust undertook an oral history of residential therapeutic child care from 1930 to 1980, recognising that for many children and young people the loss, invisibility and inaccessibility of records about them translates into a corresponding lack of personal foundation and certainty.  The judges praised this ‘very real project’ for the significant outcomes it had achieved.

Winner of the ‘Best Online’ Community Archive –  Oxhey Library


The Oxhey website is organised by volunteers and aims to provide a sustainable forum for people to share and enjoy memories and photographs of Oxhey. With no museum and little written history, the website has provided a forum to share and celebrate and to preserve local history for future generations.  The judges considered the website ‘shouted enthusiasm’ and urged all with an interest in presenting local history to ‘take a look’.

Winner of the ‘Best New Archive’ – Chorley Heritage Centre


With the ultimate aim of opening a heritage centre in the heart of Chorley, the Chorley Heritage Centre Support Group are running a ’virtual heritage centre’ to involve the community in ‘cheating the skip’ of local artefacts and ephemera, whilst publicising collections on the website.  The judges said: ‘Volunteers had gone far and wide to talk to those who had stories to tell and those who could advise and give good advice. Progress had been excellent.’

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