Two years of hard work by volunteers from the WRVS in Devizes has won them national recognition for their superb archive, which dates from 1938 to 1992.

The collection, based at premises at the Bath Road Business Centre in Devizes, was saved from storage at a Pickford’s depot where it had been in boxes for many years.

It contains the wartime records of what was until 1966 the Women’s Voluntary Service, covering air raid precautions and services to bomb victims of the 1939-45 conflict and beyond.

It has now been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as worthy of inclusion in its UK Memory of the World Register.

It stands alongside the Charter of King William I, the earliest royal document in Britain; a letter from railway engineer George Stephenson to his son Robert; and the Pont Manuscript Maps, the earliest surviving topographic survey of Scotland.

Collection archivist Matthew McMurray said: “We really are delighted to have been included as one of the first entries on a list of the UK’s most outstanding documentary heritage.”

Despite the hard work of the volunteers, there still remains around 15 years of work in listing the contents of the collection.

Bringing the archive to Devizes was the brainchild of Alice Cleland, a former national vice-chairman of the WRVS who lives in Devizes. During 2008 hundreds of boxes were brought to the Devizes premises and volunteers have been going through them, cataloguing them, ever since.

The archive’s early inclusion on the UNESCO list would not have been hurt by the fact that the chairman of the UK Memory of the World committee is David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes.

Anyone who would like to volunteer to help with the archive can contact Mr McMurray on (01380) 730211 or email