The French Ambassador visits Bristol School of Painters series at Bristol Museum

The French Ambassador Madame Sylvie Bermann visited Bristol Museum to view not only the French and Chinese collections but also the Bristol School of Painters series which may be exhibited at the Bordeaux Fine Art Museum in 2018. Curators in both cities are working hard to see if this is possible.French Ambassador at Museum.jpg

Image: Laura Pye (Head of Museums), Ambassador Sylvie Bermann and Josette LeBrat (Hon French Consul for Bristol and Bath).

Christian Heppner’s account of his time volunteering and researching at Bristol Archives

hristian Heppner, Stadtarchiv Hannover writes:

Since 6 March, I have been researching and volunteering at Bristol Archives. My aim was to prepare an exhibition on 70 years of the Bristol-Hannover twin city partnership, which will open on 3 November at Hannover Town Hall.

thumbnail_B Bond Warehouse (read only)

Image:  Stadtarchiv Hannover – the site of Hannover City Archive since 1993

But being an archivist and historian from Hannover City Archives, I’m also very much interested in learning about how work is done in a modern British public record office.

 We have the same professional challenges, but may have found different solutions.

 Therefore, Stadtarchiv Hannover and Bristol Archives organised a staff exchange: after my visit, a colleague from Bristol Archives will visit the Stadtarchiv Hannover for some weeks in November.

 We’ve had the idea of an exchange for some time, but it became much more concrete after the British EU referendum – it seems very important to us now to keep on learning from each other and to stay in contact.

 Our archive in Hannover is a little bit smaller than the one in Bristol, due to the division of work and responsibility between us and the city’s historic museum: we keep texts, they keep photos and other more “visual” types of historic sources. But besides this, I can see a lot of similarities between Bristol Archives and the Stadtarchiv Hannover.

 We both moved in 1992/93 from our town halls into bigger buildings, because of a permanently rising need for storage room (although B Bond Warehouse, built 1908, is much older than the Stadtarchiv Hannover, built 1963)

  • We both kept our documents safe in a mine (or a tunnel, in Bristol) during the disastrous times of World War 2
  • We are both dealing with challenges like archiving modern born-digital records, although the city administrations of Hannover and Bristol already have been using IT for (at least) four decades
  • In order to give better service to our customers, we both are highly interested in improve online access to our records by offering digital versions of these documents – a challenge, when IT facilities and data storing space are always short.

Altes Rathaus 

Image: “Altes Rathaus”, the Old City Hall in pre-war times: the original location of Hannover Archives (source: Hannover Historisches Museum)

Due to a slightly better financial situation, the Stadtarchiv Hannover might be better off in some aspects: we are able to invest more in proper packaging to protect our records from damage.

 Also, we fortunately have a conservation lab to deal with damage from the past, especially with mould fungus caused by the floods of the Leine river in Hannover in 1947 – we still have 100 meters of contaminated records from that situation in our basement.

 On the other hand, I can see some very good and impressive results at Bristol Archives, which may, ironically, also be caused by the more restrictive financial situation of this city.

 For example, the online access to historical maps, facts, photos and stories via Know Your Place is amazing, especially the cooperation with communities, neighbourhood committees and special interest groups, like LGBT.

 It offers many opportunities for making ‘secret’ histories visible to a widespread public. Bristol Archives are also working very successfully on this project with volunteers, who have contributed historic information and upload photographs.

 And, last but not least, it seems very helpful that Bristol City Council runs a Modern Records Unit, which keeps in close contact with the archives. This makes the transfer of records to the archives much easier – important in order to provide future generations with good historic sources on today’s life and work.


 Image: Bond Warehouse, the home of Bristol Archives

Concerning 70 years of Bristol-Hannover city twinning: there are some documents in Bristol Archives, which should definitely be presented at our exhibition. These especially include records which can inform our visitors about the motivations that drove Bristolians to get in personal contact with the former ‘enemy’ two years after the end of war.

 I am impressed how strong the Blitz experience in both cities still is and this should especially remind us of the importance of cross-nation relationships, too. I’ve found so much interesting material whilst here in Bristol thanks to many talks with Bristol Archives colleagues and members of Bristol Hannover Council.

Hannover Win Twinning Pub Quiz

The Bristol Guangzhou team organised a challenging and fun twinning pub quiz this year for more than twenty five participants – teams representing Bordeaux, Hannover,  Oporto and Beira took part. The six rounds of questions covered topics as varied as Europe and Chickens. Early leaders Beira began to fade after half time when they realised they might have to organise next year’s event. Hannover’s consistency and all round general knowledge made them deserved winners. Congratulations to the Bristol Hannover team. Ann Kennard received the trophy on behalf of the team from quizmaster Eric Dolling.


Bordeaux Jazz Trio shine with Pee Wee Ellis

Roger Biwandu’s trio lifted the roof off the Lantern as they played a sell out set with James Brown legend Pee Wee Ellis. Funded by the Bordeaux Bristol Association, the trio also played as the house band each night for the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival. BBP chairman Dave Johnson attended the event with friends and set up an info stall to tell people about the 70th anniversary celebrations and the work of the Bristol Bordeaux Partnership. They managed to have a beer with the musicians afterwards and were very impressed both by the Bordeaux artists’ talent but also Pee Wee’s love of Pieminister Pies.

In Someone Else’s Shoes – School Students interview for Hannover project

A lovely afternoon was spent recently with many Bristol-Hannover twinningparticipants sharing their memories, stories and first impressions of Hannover (and something about Bristol’s history as well) with students from Fairfield High School. Building on the original Music for Shoes initiative of 1947, students from Bristol and Hannover secondary schools will use thememories and stories collected to inform their work when composing music and swapping decorated shoes for a final performance in Colston Hall in December 2017. A big Danke Schoen to Ruth at Myers-Insole, Sharon at Fairfield, Debbie at the University of Bristol and to Travelling Kitchen for the delicious lunch.

If you are interested in this project please contact Ruth:

Hannover Archivist: Christian Heppner

Christian’s placement is going well with the Bristol Archives team. He managed to take time out of his busy programme to attend the Lord Mayor’s Medal ceremony and was very interested in the addition to the Mansion House museum which allows visitors to dress up as the Lord Mayor. Christian’s partner Silke is visiting Bristol this week and they were able to meet Will Fawcett, European and International Officer at the City Council, and view the Hannover embroidered Coat of Arms which is on permanent display at the Mansion House.

Christian also gave a fascinating insight into the history of Hannover’s archives to thirty people at City Hall this week. Representatives of both the museums service and the archives team joined members of the public and BHC members to hear how the archives were firstly stored in a castle and then hidden deep in salt mines to avoid allied bombing during the second world war. Salt crystals still drop out of documents to this day at the archive!

Bristol Hannover‘s Ann Kennard Receives Award


Dr Ann Kennard has been awarded the Lord Mayor’s International Medal for her many years work to strengthen the twinning with Hannover. Ann has been the chairperson of the Bristol Hannover Council (BHC) for over fifteen years and her dedicated and tireless efforts have played a vital role in developing the relationship. The ceremony took place at the Mansion House hosted by Lord Mayor Jeff Lovell and was part of a larger event where over 30 local people received Lord Mayor’s Medals for their outstanding contributions to their community and the city itself. Ann was accompanied by her husband Tony while BHC stalwart Lynne Evans also attended with BITA chairman Derek Pickup. This year Ann has also taken on the extra responsibility of facilitating the 70th Anniversary Committee and she paid tribute to the work of all the volunteers involved in both the BHC and the 70th committee. Congratulations Ann!