THE man who oversaw the county records office and created the Dark Archivist website with fascinating stories about Oxfordshire’s past has retired.

Carl Boardman worked for Oxfordshire County Council’s archives and history department for 27 years, and headed it up for the past 24 years.

He led the department’s move from a basement at County Hall to the state-of-the-art Oxfordshire History Centre in Cowley. And he was the man behind the interactive website Dark Archivist – the alter ego of Oxfordshire Record Office which is aimed at getting youngsters interested in history.

Mr Boardman, 58 of, Meadow Close, Farmoor, said: “I wanted to do something on a website to interest young people in archives.

“The Dark Archivist website has games and activities and the main figure that I based it around is a sinister man in a long black cloak, who looked a bit like me.”

Mr Boardman, who is married to fellow archivist Liz, also penned the book Oxfordshire Sinners and Villains.

It was used in a series of shows by Radio Oxford called Tales from the Archives which was later made into a television programme.

His career highlight was the £3.5m move to the former St Luke’s Church, in Temple Road.

He said: “When I took over in 1988 we were in the basement at County Hall and it was so cramped with part of the archives stored in a school in Didcot.”

In the mid-1990s he launched a project to move out of County Hall, won £1m in funding from the council and started looking for an empty building that could be refurbished. A chance chat with the former archdeacon of Oxford Frank Weston paved the way for the centre to move into the former church.

But the project did not run smoothly. Cuts in public spending in the 1990s reduced the council input to £700,000, however, a £2.2m grant from the newly formed Heritage Lottery put the move back on track and the department moved to its new home in 2000.

Mr Boardman said: “I went into the business because I loved history and I wanted to read ancient documents. I ended up going to an awful lot of meetings, telling everyone else what to do, arguing about finance and working out strategy with elected councillors.

“One of the great ironies from taking over the county archives until retirement is I never catalogued a single document.”

Mr Boardman plans to spend his retirement learning to play the piano and writing novels.