Hi-Viz history: a tale of boxes and hard hats

21 Dec 2011

5.15pm, Friday 18 February 2011: shelves rolled together, temperature and humidity checked, lights out, doors locked. Little did I know then that the diocesan archives would stay in 153 Hereford Street, cordoned off in the Red Zone and unattended for seven months—apart from two brief visits to check on their general state, tape up the plans cabinets, and to retrieve six boxes of important items which I believed would be useful in the weeks ahead.

WORDS: Jane Teal

The process of retrieving the archives initially involved a marathon box-making session spread over many evenings and a whole weekend: 535 boxes with 10 trays for plans. These were transported in the first of three insulated containers to the carpark at the back of the Anglican Centre. The container was raised to the height of the Level 3 open windows, enabling the empty boxes to be taken to the shelves and filled, and the full boxes to be taken out and lowered to ground level.

Packing, packing, and more packing went on for five and a half days. Staff from the Air Force Museum, the Canterbury Museum, the Christchurch Art Gallery, a freelance heritage professional, and another staff member worked sometimes by headlight and other times by the light powered by a generator, until every register, plan, minute book, publication, CD, and piece of furniture was loaded. The containers were filled until they could take no more.

Now we await the building of an archives pod. The plans have been drawn with the help of Hydestor, to make use of the shelving which was also retrieved, and to provide some space for textiles. The construction is about to go out to tender.

When will the archives be open again to the public? Realistically it will be Easter 2012, because the hard part is yet to come: getting everything out of the containers and back onto the shelves—in order!

The retrieval of the archives would not have been possible without the help of many people: Liz and Gavin behind the scenes; Aidan, Elizabeth, Lawrence, and Michael who made boxes; Dave, Dave, Simon, Michelle, Tim, Sam, Michael, Lynn, Terri, and Lesley who went into the Red Zone; and Jim with his crane driver, and many container loaders from Lunds.