Welsh weather and the popularity of hit TV programmes on genealogy have combined to give the West Glamorgan Archive Service their busiest ever year.
New figures show 11,890 people used the joint service for Swansea Council and Neath Port Talbot Council from April 2010 to the end of March 2011 – a six per cent increase on the previous year.
The service headquarters is based at the Swansea Civic Centre with a branch office at Neath Mechanics Institute.
Latest figures also show a record-breaking 103 visits were made on August 17 last year.
County Archivist Kim Collis said: “These are hugely encouraging figures that seem to show we’re among the beneficiaries of the recent wet summers in the Swansea Bay area.
“The popularity of TV programmes like Coming Home on BBC Wales have also raised the profile of the service we operate and mean more and more people are now interested in researching their family history or the history of their local area.
“It really is a fascinating hobby that becomes very addictive and we’re on hand to help anyone who’d like to kick-start research of their own.”
In Swansea, the Family History Centre stores a vast range of genealogical resources including free access to the Ancestry and Find My Past websites. The Archive Searchroom offers access to maps, journals, photographs, film and sound recordings relating to all aspects of the local area’s rich history.
The Neath branch office has a similar range of resources to help family historians and people with an interest in the history of Neath can view the archive collections of the Neath Antiquarian Society.
And in another major step forward for the service, the complete archive catalogue for Swansea and Neath has also just become available to search online on the archive service website.
Cllr Graham Thomas, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said: “Our staff at the West Glamorgan Archive Service are enormously skilled in helping people research the past and more resources than ever are now available to the public at our first-class history hubs.
“I hope these wonderful visitor figures will encourage even more people than ever to make a trip to our archive service in the near future and start discovering their own pasts.”
Have a look at http://www.swansea.gov.uk/