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Work to start on new Staffordshire History Centre in January 2023

Posted on Tuesday 6th December 2022
Victoria Wilson and Joanna Terry NR

Cllr Victoria Wilson with Joanna Terry, Head of Archives and Heritage at Staffordshire County Council

Work to build a brand new £5.4m history centre for Staffordshire is set to start in early 2023.

Over a thousand years of the county’s history will be brought to life in the exciting new heritage project for the county. The project has been made possible thanks to a grant of 4,858,699 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The new centre will include an extension to the existing Staffordshire Record Office on Eastgate Street in Stafford, incorporating the William Salt Library.  A modern glazed entrance will link both buildings, creating a bright exhibition space to showcase museum, archive and William Salt library collections. Additional strong rooms will provide space for a further 55 years of collections.

The project also has funding to deliver an ambitious four year programme of activities enabling people to discover more about their family or local history through behind the scenes tours, history days,  exhibitions, and family activities.  A new website will be developed and key collections will be digitised to widen access.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture at Staffordshire County Council said: “We’re justifiably proud of our history and wonderful collections and we want to be able to share them and be able to protect them for future generations to enjoy. 

“We’re all incredibly excited about the project and it’s great to have the start confirmed for the new year.  Not only will the project give us a brand new heritage attraction for the county but it will bring together three amazing collections from the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service, the County Museum and the William Salt Library.

“In addition to the new centre, a dedicated programme of touring exhibitions will also help take the Staffordshire story out into local communities, helping to get more people interested in our fascinating history. We are grateful to National Lottery Players for making this funding possible.”

A brand new learning programme is being created for schools, families and adult learners.  Four project staff have been recruited to develop and deliver the programme, supported by over 60 volunteers.

The William Salt Library collections have been moved from the building revealing hidden architectural features which will be restored. New interpretation will retell the story of the building, as well as William Salt and his collection.

Mithra Tonking, Chair of the William Salt Library Trust added: “Staffordshire’s archives are designated outstanding and of national importance. They include rare items such as Anglo-Saxon charters confirming the foundation of Burton Abbey and a letter written on the eve of the American Revolution.

“The museum collections include the Douglas Hayward puppet collection and carriage collection, both of national significance. The William Salt Library is an outstanding rare book and manuscript collection, amassed by Victorian collector William Salt, whose family originated in Stafford. The historic Library building held the collection for over 100 years and has its own history as a fine town house, a doctor’s surgery, and a shop, before becoming a Library.”

The total cost of the project is now £8,780,239 with a grant of £4,858,699 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.  Additional match funding of £3,921,540 was raised by the partnership, including Staffordshire County Council funding, grants, donations from local organisations and friends and in-kind contributions from volunteers.

Pave Aways Ltd have been awarded the contract to build the new centre with work starting in early 2023.

Further details on the project are available at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/Heritage-and-archives/Staffordshire-History-Centre

Photo captions: (Left to right) Cllr Victoria Wilson with Joanna Terry, Head of Archives and Heritage at Staffordshire County Council

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