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County's Registration Service clocks up 175 years
6:00am Friday 29th June 2012 in County Bulletin
Worcestershire Registration Service celebrates its own Jubilee Anniversary with 175 years this Sunday (1 July).
The county's Registration Service has registered over 1 million births and 808,150 deaths since its own birth on 1 July 1837. Today, the service registers approximately 6,000 births and 5,500 deaths per year.
The service, which is responsible for the registration of births, deaths and marriages throughout Worcestershire, has seen an incredible amount of change since its beginning all those years ago. Back then, Worcestershire used to spread as far afield as Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen and Registrars travelled around their District with a large secure metal box containing their registers, blank certificates, quills and ink.
The first recorded birth registration was for a baby boy born on 1 July 1837. No name is recorded; he was just registered as 'the son of John and Mary Willis' in Droitwich on the 2 July 1837. The first death was sadly registered in Upton on Severn on 1 July for a baby boy with the entry reading 'lived for one hour, prematurely born.' In the name and surname column it just says 'Master' and registered as 'the mark of Sarah Mason, Upton on Severn, Aunt of the mother, present at the death.'
1837 also saw the first Civil Ceremony, when marriages could take place in a local Register Office instead of a church. The first Civil Ceremony conducted in Worcestershire was on 25 October 1837 at the Register Office in the Worcester Union between St. John's residents Thomas Fifield and Ann Carver. The groom, 59, was a 'Gentleman' and the bride, 32, was a 'Dressmaker', both previously widowed.
In 1995 the Approved Premises Regulations came into place allowing civil marriages to take place in hotels or similar premises. On the 18 July The Lygon Arms in Broadway became the first venue in Worcestershire to apply for a license and continues to be licensed for civil ceremonies today. The county now has over 60 approved premises and its popularity as a destination for ceremonies continues to increase with the service conducting over 1,700 ceremonies in the last year.
Since 2006, the service has diversified and now offers non-statutory services of Renewal of Vows, Naming Ceremonies and Civil Funerals. In addition, they offer a Settlement and Nationality Checking Service. The most recent change to the service is 'Tell Us Once' which aims to reduce the stress of registering a death or birth. The service enables customers to report a death or birth just once, and with the customer's consent, the information is shared with a number of central and local government organisations so the customer does not have to contact each of them individually themselves. Anyone wanting to take advantage of the service can do so by calling the Worcestershire Hub on 0845 603 2859 to make an appointment. For more information visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/tuo .
Cllr John Campion, Worcestershire County Council's Cabinet Member for Localism and Communities, said: "The service has changed progressively since 1837, most recently with the launch of 'Tell Us Once' which aims to take the stress out of registering a death or birth. 175 years on, some of the traditions still remain, including the use of the unique blue-black indelible registrar's ink and the signing of the register at weddings. Worcestershire Registration Service continues to keep tradition whilst moving with the times. This is a service that almost everyone will come into contact with at one stage or another in their lives."
Sharon Duggan, Worcestershire Registration Service's Registration and Coroner's Service Manager, said: "We're delighted to be celebrating 175 years of the registration service in Worcestershire. No day is ever the same whether it is registering one birth or sometimes three, a family's sadness when they have to register the death of a loved or presiding over a "Super Hero's" wedding. We are fortunate to be able to undertake a service which touches so many people's lives."