Friends of Cumbria Archives
Patron: Claire Hensman, Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria
President: Lord Inglewood
Vice-President: Rob David
Committee of Trustees
Chair : Susan Dench
Secretary & Research Grants: Adrian Allan
Treasurer & Membership Secretary: Lorna Mullett
Newsletter Editor & Website Administrator: Dr Jean Turnbull
Roger Bingham; Chester Forster; Diana Matthews; Margaret Martindale
History of FoCAS & Constitution
The origin of a modern archive service in Cumbria began in 1962. In that year, two Record Offices were opened, one in Carlisle and the other in Kendal, to serve the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, and the city of Carlisle. They were officially approved and recognised as places of deposit for public, manorial, diocesan and parish records. It was not until 1974, when local government reorganisation created the new county of Cumbria, that the record offices were united to form the Cumbria Archive Service (CAS).
Fifteen years later Mary Wane, then a County Councillor (later to become Vice-President of FoCAS), suggested at a meeting of the Archive Sub-Committee that the Service could benefit from the backing of a supporters' group. The then County Archivist, Sheila MacPherson, thought this an excellent proposal and was charged with the task of considering how it might best be achieved. There was immediate and enthusiastic support from archive users, and a working party chaired by lawyer and local historian, Dr John Todd, was formed. The result was the formal institution of FoCAS on 19 October 1991, at a meeting held at Newton Rigg College (see Newsletter No.1). So 2021 is the 30th anniversary of the charity. The declared object was ‘the education of the public by the promotion, support, assistance and improvement of the Cumbria Archive Service', through the activities of a group to be known as the 'Friends of Cumbria Archives’.
This remains the object of the Friends to this day, although activities in achieving it have evolved in light of changing needs of both CAS, with its four Archive Centres spread across the county, and FoCAS members. Over the years, we have provided grants and donations to enable supply of equipment and facilities; to run workshops, seminars and local group activities; and to assist school visits to the Centres. We have also run popular visits of members, and others, to archives in neighbouring counties, and to The National Archives at Kew.
We make substantial donations towards a ‘war chest’ which facilitates the purchase by CAS of important archives, sometimes at short notice. Over several years we have been working with CAS and other local organisations on ‘outreach’ projects, for the benefit of members and the wider public.
Continuing reorganisation of local government impacts on the way in which the Archive Service is organised and how it is forced to operate. This is accompanied by significant pressure on funding, which diminishes provision of services. These factors are viewed with concern by FoCAS and urgent representations have been made to the appropriate authorities.
As a support group we feel it is increasingly vital to back CAS, and to promote for public benefit the excellent reputation that the Cumbria Archive Service has rightly achieved nationally, over many years. This is publicly recognised through its official accreditation by The National Archives.