Our Archive

The Age Exchange Archive is a small space to the rear of The Exchange, which over the years has housed hundreds of  objects such as photographs, toys, and memorabilia.

After being founded in the 1980s (originally as a Theatre Trust), the Age Exchange Reminiscence Centre was created in Blackheath, a charming and quirky cafe with a treasure-trove of homely vintage memorabilia, and interactive exhibitions featuring carefully curated objects acquired over many years. Hundreds of these donated objects have been living in our archive, often seeing the light of day when used in our reminiscence sessions with school children, in plays, or in care settings. These objects are often used by our project workers or Reminiscence Arts Practitioners (RAPS), to stimulate memory and conversation in reminiscence sessions - such as childhood games, travel, and other themes.


Through generous donations made over the last 30 years or more, the Reminiscence Arts charity, Age Exchange has built up an amazing archive of items ranging from clothing; medical equipment; household objects; cameras; radios; gramophones; sports equipment; books and much, much more. It includes items dating from the 1800s, right through to more recent decades.

The archive is an important and vital resource for the charity; its objects are used by our Project Workers for interactive reminscence when visiting care homes etc; for display in the cafe and shop window as well as props in our productions in the Bakehouse Theatre. Unfortunately, the archive has outgrown the limited space available to us and so in early 2016, an intrepid group set out to sort through the archive and rationalize our collection for future use.

The group is an extension of the Age Exchange Inspired Caring Group, which meets on Monday lunchtimes and includes volunteers Liz, Colin, Jim and Steve. At first there was literally only room for two people to work within the archive and we had to find additional space wherever we could, including the Age Exchange Cafe. You may well have seen our intrepid archivists over the summer taking advantage of the weather in the garden sorting through boxes of children's toys; medical equipment and more.

Through the initial phase of sorting through the archive we were able to identify many items that were duplicates, some that were impractical for our current purposes and some that were in poor condition, making them unusable. We have been able to put many of these items up for auction at Greenwich Auctions raising over £700 for the charity so far.

The archive task is an ongoing project and we will post updates in the future.

For further info, please email hello@age-exchange.org.uk

May 2017 update

Working in the Archive we regularly come across interesting and unusual items which have been kindly donated over the years. With some items we have an idea of what they are, how they were used and by whom, how old they are etc. But with others we’re not so sure about or don’t have a clue!

We thought it would be a good idea and a bit of fun to share some of these items now and again, and maybe someone can help us understand a bit more about these items:

Here’s some to get going with:

GLASS DOMES: We have a box of 12 glass domes which are around 40mm in diameter. Some are flattened on top whilst others have a small extrusion. There are no labels on the box to tell us what the glass domes are or who made them.


Do you know what these domes were used for and by whom? Perhaps you used them yourself. If so did you use them for work or leisure?

WOODEN TUBE: This curious wooden tube measures approximately 150 mm long and around 20 – 30 mm in diameter. We have no clue what it is and what it was used for. The smaller tube passing through the main tube doesn’t appear to move or rotate.

Any ideas what this item is and how old it may be?

CHICKEN SPECTACLES: Here’s something we found amusing. We didn’t know chickens wore spectacles?! Do you know what chicken spectacles are? Did you keep chickens?

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve any comments or info! Drop us a line below…

-The Archive Team

February 2017 update

If you have been in the garden at Age Exchange you may well have noticed the small building marked ‘Archive’. You may have even wondered what was in it… Well, it actually houses an amazing collection, ranging from clothing, gramophones and photographs; to medical equipment, First World War memorabilia, Victoriana, and much more.

The Archive Project is an extension of the Inspired Caring Group for people living with dementia and their carers, which meets at the Age Exchange centre on Mondays. The Archive Team includes Liz, Colin, Jim and Steve, and more recently Gerry. Initially, there was only room for two people to work within the archive itself and we had to find additional space wherever we could, including the cafe.

We are always surprised at the range of personal items people have donated over the years. We have hundreds of photographs and many personal papers and letters. One item of particular interest is an Imperial Service Medal issued during the reign of George VI (1937 – 1952) whose image is found the obverse face. The inscription on the reverse reads ‘For Faithful Service’


From some internet research we have found out that the medal was established in 1902 by King Edward VII and is affiliated to the Imperial Service Order. It is awarded to civil servants on retirement in recognition of long service. The ribbon pattern is the same as the Imperial Service Order. It was last awarded in 2016.

We hope to bring you regular updates of the project including more items of interest. Feel free to get in touch in the Contact section.

-The Archive Team