Introducing… Our Conservator

  • 21st October 2013

We are pleased to bring you a new feature on our blog, which over the coming months will see us introducing the work of various members of our team here at the Archive and Archaeology Service, in order to give our readers more of an idea of what we get up to behind closed doors. The first to be introduced is our Conservator, Rhonda Niven. Here’s what she has to say:

My journey into conservation began with a three month course at Morley College in London on Bookbinding.  I just loved the whole process of folding, sewing and sticking to come up with what looked like a ‘real’ book that I had made myself.

Shortly after the course finished, I returned home to New Zealand, where I was disappointed to discover there weren’t any official bookbinding courses.  I did manage to track down a retired Bookbinder offering individual tuition and spent a number of weeks there, learning as much as I could. 

 Rhonda, our Conservator, working at The Hive

After a move to Nelson, NZ, I met a local bookbinder Christine Carr, who had established her own small business doing book repair and private binding in 1994.  As my own interest was in making new books for ‘special occasions’, our work complemented each other and I went on to work with Christine for five years.  I am so grateful for her support, training and patience in helping me to develop my bookbinding skills along the way. 

In 2004, I decided to pursue a formal qualification in Book Conservation, but having failed to find any courses in the Southern hemisphere, this meant a return to the UK.  So, in 2005 I began a one year Diploma in the Conservation/Restoration of Books and Library Materials at West Dean College, near Chichester.   

The Conservation lab at The Hive, where Rhonda repairs and preserves our documents

Following graduation I worked at Berkshire Record Office in Reading for nearly 6 years on a project funded by the Wellcome Trust to stabilise and repair the records of Broadmoor Hospital.   

Since moving to The Hive in Dec 2012, I am pleased to have much more variety in my work than I had in Berkshire.  I now share my time working on items from the Archives that need repair and treatment, as well as working my way through repairing the Stuart Collection on the fourth floor of The Hive.  I am also able to undertake repair of books and documents, and to offer advice on packaging and storage from organisations and individuals beyond the walls of the Hive. 

When not at work, I have a husband and 2 small children.  We are enjoying exploring Worcestershire, never having spent any time in this part of the world before moving here, but my children love the Hive so much it really can be difficult to get them away from it!

Although priority is given to the in-house conservation needs of our collection of historic archives, we are also able to provide advice and preservation and repair work to external customers. If you would like more details, a discussion or a quote please contact Rhonda via our email address

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