'All Aboard The Bandstand!’ was the cry on Aberystwyth Promenade as Ceredigion Archives, the county record office, put on a range of special events on a maritime theme in the Bandstand to celebrate Explore Your Archives week from 19 to 23 November.

Explore Your Archives week is a UK annual event to celebrate the contents of Britain’s Archives, Record Offices and Specialist Repositories.

Ceredigion has an age-old relationship with the sea – the county’s coat-of-arms even sports a herring against a background of the waves to symbolise the fishing industry. Boatbuilding, fishing and merchant vessels which travelled the world are all important features of the county’s heritage. All of these are represented in the collections at Ceredigion Archives.

In more recent times, as the sea-side became a tourist destination, commercial postcards and private photographs generated countless other images of the sea and shoreline. Many of these can be found in the Archives.

During the Explore your Archives week nearly three hundred people visited the Archives at the bandstand and enjoyed a slide show of historic photographs of Aberystwyth promenade and harbour. Lots of people commented on pictures of storms in the 1890s and 1920s comparing it with today’s weather.

Archive students from Aberystwyth University’s Department of Information Management, Libraries and Archives curated an exhibition of sea-side images with their own carefully-researched captions. The Borth Sand Beast was definitely the most popular image, but all were enjoyed, and many people pointed out the ‘ghost’ in the picture of the Aberystwyth Lifeboat crew in the 1930s.

There were seven lectures during the week on all sorts of different subjects, by archivists Helen Palmer and Ania Skarzynska, and guest lecturer Richard Ireland. One evening saw a lively performance of sea shanties by local band The Hittites and audience participation was encouraged. Local historian John Weston led a brilliant history-walk along the prom. Local artists Jenny Fell and Alison Hincks provided workshops and some beautiful lino-cuts on a maritime theme were created. People from Ceredigion and from much further afield shared their recollections and memories with archives staff, as the documents and pictures on show were looked at.

Councillor Ray Quant, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Customer Contact said, “Well done to the Ceredigion Archives who, year on year, organise such a great line up of events to celebrate historical moments in Ceredigion history through sharing these important documents with our residents. Remember, Ceredigion Archives is available to all all year round for residents and visitors alike.”

Explore Your Archives week is an opportunity to meet new people and introduce them to the wonderful archives of Ceredigion. If you didn’t manage to call by at the Bandstand, everyone is welcome at Ceredigion Archives, at the Old Town Hall in Aberystwyth. This is your opportunity to explore the historic records of the past. See Ceredigion Archives website for more information.