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Staffordshire History Centre

Development phase update - 6 August 2020

The Archive and Heritage Service started work on the new development phase for the Staffordshire History Centre project in January. The project paused initially when the service was suspended during lockdown. The team soon adapted the planned work to the new digital and working from home environment.

The key areas of work are:

  • new audience research to analyze current membership and users of the service
  • consultation with new and potential users of the service
  • review and further consultation with schools to support the learning programme
  • cataloguing and preservation work on the William Salt Library collection in preparation for relocation.

Audience research 

The Audience Agency were appointed to complete the audience research and consultation with new and potential users of the service. They have done this by analysing information about users registered to use Staffordshire Record Office and William Salt Library. They have also looked at existing use of the service website and social media. This has helped confirm who currently uses the service, their age range, areas they travel from, and types of user.

Consultation with new and potential service users

In June 2020 an online survey was launched to gather responses about the current and potential use of the service. It asked for views on the service websites, visiting the record office, William Salt Library and touring exhibitions. They survey also asked if respondents were interested in taking part in a focus group.

Over 440 people responded to the survey and two online focus groups have been delivered selecting current users and non-users of the service. The Audience Agency research report has just been shared with the team and is helping them to refine the activities for the History Centre and also gain feedback on proposals for the new build elements and exhibition space. Further work is planned to develop a marketing strategy which will raise awareness of the History Centre including the activities which will be delivered.

We are grateful to everyone who took part in the survey and focus groups.

Consultation with teachers

A consultant was also appointed to review previous learning work that was developed. A teacher survey was delivered receiving a good number of responses. Due to the closure of schools pilot activities were created to be delivered online. The team are awaiting the final report to enable them to refine this area of the project.

Cataloguing work at the William Salt Library

Cataloguing work had started at the William Salt Library with preservation work delivered by a small group of keen volunteers. This paused during lockdown although the cataloguing has resumed now that the staff are able to work onsite again. Sadly it will not be possible to bring the volunteers back into the building but we are looking at seconding a member of staff to take on this work instead.

Stage 2 submission

With the delays the submission date for round two is delayed and will be Winter/Spring.

Further updates will be posted on this page.  Alternatively, please sign up to our service newsletter



Latest news: interested in local or family history?

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage and the William Salt Library are working in partnership to create and deliver the new Staffordshire History Centre. The project will transform the way the public engage with our services, our collections and create an exciting new educational visitor experience.

It would really help us if you spent 10 minutes filling out this survey on the Audience Surveys website - we need your opinions to inform our application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  The survey has been developed in partnership with the Audience Agency and will run until 21 June 2020.

For further information about the project in general, please see below.



Latest news: Calling all Staffordshire teachers

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage and the William Salt Library are working in partnership to create and deliver the new Staffordshire History Centre. The project will transform the way the public engage with our services, our collections and create an exciting new educational visitor experience.  

It would really help us if you spent 5 minutes filling out this survey on SurveyMonkey - we need your opinions to inform the learning plan element of our application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The survey will run until mid-May (precise date tbc).

For further information about the project in general, please see below.



Round two National Lottery funding bid for history centre to be submitted

Staffordshire could be home to a brand new £3.9m modern history centre, if a new round two bid for funding submitted to The National Lottery Heritage Fund is successful.

Heritage Fund Logo

The project has been awarded initial support* from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and has been awarded £36,000 development funding to develop the project plans and apply for a full National Lottery grant of £3,964,000 at a later date.

The proposals for the Staffordshire History Centre project would see an extension to the existing Staffordshire Record Office on Eastgate Street in Stafford incorporating the William Salt Library.

The new centre would bring together the county’s extensive archives collections in one modern centre with additional strong rooms, reading areas, and research labs.

Rare archives, books and museum pieces would all be displayed in a dedicated exhibition space, with activities and collections taken out into local communities.

We expect to make the application for funding in 2020.

Gill Heath, our Cabinet Member for Communities explained that the team were delighted with the opportunity to make a round two application.

Gill said:

“We’re incredibly proud of our fascinating history here in Staffordshire with some amazing collections, and we want to share them and be able to protect them for future generations to enjoy.

“Not only will the new centre create an exciting visitor experience for everyone in Staffordshire, but it will transform the way people interact with our services. Our schedule of activities and exhibitions will also allow us to take more of our amazing collections out to local communities and schools which will help get many more people excited about our history.”

Gill added:

“And, only last month we have been allocated the archives for the Paget family, Marquesses of Anglesey, which is great news. This is a fascinating collection and includes important medieval manuscripts and the estate papers of the family."

The Staffordshire History Centre project is being delivered by our Archives and Heritage Service in partnership with the William Salt Library Trust.

Mithra Tonking, Chairman of the trust, said:

“We are delighted to be able to develop this project which will preserve both the unique William Salt Library collection and ensure the long term future of the grade II* listed building. We’re looking forward to working with Staffordshire County Council on this exciting project”.

The total cost of the project is £5.9m with an application for £3.9m being made to The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Match funding of £2m is also being raised by the partnership including grants, donations from local organisations and Friends, and in-kind contributions from volunteers.

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

*National Lottery Heritage Fund grant applications over £250,000 are assessed in two rounds. Staffordshire History Centre has initially been granted round one development funding of £36,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £3,964,000.

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Visit the Heritage Fund website.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

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