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Work on new Staffordshire History Centre under way

Posted on Monday 20th February 2023
SHC - Jonathon Price_Mithra Tonking_Frances Beatty_Ant Hughes - NR

Cllr Jonathon Price, Mithra Tonking, Cllr Frances Beatty and Ant Hughes, Pave Aways LTD Site Manager.

 Work to build a new £5.1m history centre for Staffordshire has started

Over a thousand years of the county’s history will be brought to life in an 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 see an extension to the existing Staffordshire Record Office building on Eastgate Street in Stafford, incorporating the renovated and redisplayed William Salt Library building.  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.

Protective fencing has been put up on site, as workers from construction company Pave Aways Ltd start their preparatory works.  Over the next three months, its team will start the refurbishment of the William Salt Library and existing records office by stripping out the interiors, do the groundworks for the new strong room and begin the footings for the new link that will form the new entrance.

Jonathon Price, Cabinet Member for Education (and SEND) at Staffordshire County Council said:

“It’s great to see work on our fantastic new history centre get underway.

“We’re all incredibly excited about the project.  Not only will it provide a brand-new heritage attraction for the county, but it will bring together our amazing collections in one place.  It will also help preserve the precious records we already have as well as provide storage space for another 55 years of collections.”

Mithra Tonking, chair of the William Salt Library Trust commented that

“The William Salt Library Trustees are delighted that construction work is now under way. The Staffordshire History Centre project offers a new and exciting future for a much-loved listed building in the centre of Stafford, as well as greatly improved storage and management of the wide-ranging and unique William Salt Library collection of material, which covers every aspect of Staffordshire’s heritage”

Frances Beatty, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning at Stafford Borough Council said:

“We are really pleased to have been able to support this wonderful addition to our county town.  It’s yet another demonstration of the huge investment going on in and around the area.

“The work on the History Centre gets underway only a short walk from where we have already started the renovation of the Market Square which is the first phase of the major transformation of our town centre.  But as well as the massive investment we are attracting to the county town, educational and research facilities such as the History Centre will bring more visitors to Stafford and that provides a further boost for the local economy."  

She said Stafford Borough Council had provided £250,000 towards the scheme from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.  

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. 

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.

The total cost of the project is £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.

People can keep up to date with the project at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/Heritage-and-archives/Staffordshire-History-Centre

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