History Centre Latest News

This page provides the latest news relating to the future vision and service delivery plans for the countys archive service.

It also features an archive of previous major news releases.

We also have a dedicated section of our website with much more information and resources relating to our Archives Vision here

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September 2017

People are being given the chance to see plans for the new multi-million pound Staffordshire History Centre for the first time.

The plans, being revealed at a series of events throughout September, include artist’s impressions and a 3D model of what the new centre could look like.

The new £4m centre would be located on Eastgate Street in Stafford and will hold historical records and collections up to 1,000 years old.  Along with a new community exhibition space, modern reading and search rooms and a packed programme of activities the centre will also have additional strong rooms, providing storage for an additional 25 years of future collections.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council explained that there was real energy and enthusiasm about the project and urged people to get along to one of the events.

Gill said:“This is a really exciting time for our service and it’s great to be able to share the plans. We are all very proud of our history and heritage here in Staffordshire and our new centre would help to take archives out into local communities and get more people interested in history.”

Plans will be available to see at the following events:

  • 9 September,  Heritage Open Day at the William Salt Library  10am – 2:30pm
  • 14 September, Drop-in event at Staffordshire Place 1, Stafford, 10am to 5 pm.
  • 20 September, drop-in session at Staffordshire Place 1, 2pm to 6:30pm.
  • 21 September, drop-in session, Staffordshire Place 1, Stafford, 10am to 2pm

 

The new Staffordshire History Centre would be located between Eastgate Street and North Walls incorporating the existing Records Office and the WSL building.  Rare archives and museum pieces will be displayed in a state of the art exhibition space, and over six million records, documenting the lives of ordinary Staffordshire people will be available in the new centre and online.

Records currently held at the Lichfield Record Office and the William Salt Library will be moved into the new centre and more records will continue to be made available online.  A new local and family history access point will also be created in Lichfield Library where people will be able to access a range of digital collections.

The project is being delivered by Staffordshire County Council’s Archives and Heritage Service in partnership with the William Salt Library Trust.

Mithra Tonking, Chairman of the William Salt Library Trust, said: “We are delighted to be a major partner in this exciting development to provide a central research and learning point for Staffordshire¹s history.  The project will also improve accessibility to and knowledge of the outstanding William Salt Library collection as well as securing the future of a significant and much loved listed building in Stafford.”

Funding of £333,400 for the development phase has already been received from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a Round II bid being submitted in March 2018. Work on the new centre could start as early as April 2019.

Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF West Midlands, said: “It is great to see the plans for the new History Centre developing so swiftly. The project has the potential to bring the history of ordinary Staffordshire life to a large number of people, and we’re delighted that money from National Lottery players can help support it. We are looking forward to seeing the detailed proposals in due course”.


 

June 2016

New £4m History Centre for Staffordshire

Plans for a new multi-million pound modern history centre in Staffordshire have been given the green light after securing initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The proposed new centre has received earmarked funding of nearly £4million from HLF to create a two-storey link between the Staffordshire Record Office and the William Salt Library in Stafford.

Initial funding of £333,400 will enable the plans to be developed, and an application for the full grant of £3,965,600 will be made at a later date.

The new centre will hold records up to 1,000 years old, as well as having a new community exhibition space, modern search rooms and strong rooms to provide storage for an additional 25 years of future collections.

The project follows months of planning and consultation with local people, history groups and local historians.

Existing records currently held at the Lichfield Record Office and the William Salt Library will now be moved into the new centre and more records will continue to be made available online.  A new local and family history access point will also be created in Lichfield Library where people can access a range of digital collections.

Rare archives will be displayed in a state of the art exhibition space, and over six million parish records, documenting the lives of ordinary Staffordshire people will be available in the new centre and online.

Added to this, the project will deliver a four year county wide activity programme, which includes a school’s learning programme, touring exhibitions and the digitisation of key collections. 

More than 100 volunteers will be enlisted to help deliver the history centre project, which will reach out to historians and people interested in researching their family history.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member responsible for the Archives Service at Staffordshire County Council said:  “The new Staffordshire History Centre, with more accessible facilities along with plans to take more activities out into local communities, will give us a much more modern sustainable service for the future.

“We want to reach out to more people and let them use and enjoy the records, and our new-look service developed with local history groups and the public will help us do this.  At the same time we will continue get more records available online through findmypast to ensure anyone who has an interest in history can access information at the touch of a button.”

Mithra Tonking, Chair of the William Salt Library Trust said: “The creation of the Staffordshire History Centre will secure the future of the William Salt Library providing much needed space for the collection to continue to grow. It will also secure the future of a much loved grade II listed building breathing new life into it as a community space within the Centre, a space for new business start-ups and residential accommodation.”

People can keep up to date with the plans and sign up to the project e-bulletin at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/archives/ourvision  

Ends

Note to editors

A development grant of £333,400 and initial support for a full grant of £3,965,600 has been made available from the Heritage Lottery Fund with the County Council contributing £412,000 towards the project.  An additional £100,000 has been made available through the Joint Archives Committee reserves and a further £150,000 is expected to be raised through other grants, foundations, businesses and charitable trusts.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds.  A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery


 

Plans for new £4m Staffordshire History Centre move a step closer - October 2015

Plans which could see the development of a new multi-million pound modern history centre for the county have moved a step closer.

The plans were agreed by the Staffordshire Joint Archives Committee on Thursday 22 October and could see the creation of a new History Centre on the existing Records Office site on Eastgate Street in Stafford.

As custodians to the county’s heritage, the Staffordshire Archives Service is responsible for millions of historical records documenting the county’s fascinating history.

A former prime minister, brewer, authors, potters, and a general’s letter written about the Christmas Day truce of 1914 are just some of the records in the collection.

Josiah Wedgwood’s baptism certificate from 1730, marriage certificate for Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgwood and baptism records for Dr Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary and Izaak Walton author of the Compleat Angler are also held by the service.  These along with over six million parish records, documenting the lives of ordinary people date back over 1,000 years and would be available in the new centre and online.

The proposals follow months of consultation with the public, local historians and depositors   and will now see an application for funding made to the Heritage Lottery In December.

Ben Adams, Cabinet Member responsible for the Archives Service at Staffordshire County Council explained that it was an exciting time for the service and now that the plans had been approved they could move to the next stage to make the vision a reality.

Ben said: “The new centre, with more accessible facilities, better storage space, more room for exhibitions, along with plans to take more activities out into local communities will give us a much more modern sustainable service for the future.

“At the same time, we will continue our work to get more people interested in their family history, including our project with findmypast to digitise over six million records including parish registers, wills and marriage bonds. Over four million of these are already online and free from our records offices and libraries and we hope to have the rest available very soon.”

Records currently held at the Lichfield Record Office and the William Salt Library would be moved into the new centre. An additional 25 years of modern storage space would also be created to hold and preserve future collections.  In addition to the new modern centre, more records would be made available online and more family history events and exhibitions would be taken out into local communities and schools.

The County Council would contribute £412,000 to the cost of the project, with an additional £100,000 coming from the Joint Archives Committee reserves.  A further £150,000 is also expected to be raised through other grants, foundations, businesses and charitable trusts.

If you would like to be kept updated about this project, please send your email to us at staffordshire.archives@staffordshire.gov.uk 


Plans for new Staffordshire History Centre to be considered - October 2015

People and groups interested in their family history could be pouring over records up to 900 years old in a new centre if plans are given the green light.

Under the proposals to be considered by the Staffordshire Joint Archives Committee on Thursday 22 October, the new vision for the Staffordshire Archives Service would see the creation of a new History Centre on the existing Records Office site on Eastgate Street in Stafford.

More community activities and events, family history workshops, research space, and exhibitions would all be part of the plans.  The proposals would also see records currently held at the Lichfield Record Office and the William Salt Library being moved into the new centre. An additional 25 years of modern storage space would also be created to hold future collections.

The proposals follow months of consultation with the public, depositors  and local history groups during the summer which saw over 530 people having their say.  People were asked to consider and choose from four options, with 53% of people opting for the development of a new centre on the Eastgate Street site in Stafford.  If approved by the Joint Archives Committee, an application for funding would be made to the Heritage Lottery fund in December.

Ben Adams, Cabinet Member responsible for the Archives Service at Staffordshire County Council said: “This is an exciting time for the service and if the proposals are approved it means we’ll be able to  provide a much more modern service that is sustainable for many years to come that allows more people to access and enjoy the records. A brand new centre with modern storage would also allow us to better preserve our collections while providing an extra 25 to 30 years of space for future collections as the service develops.

“We will continue developing our digital offer, making more records available online than ever before and at the same time, taking the service out into local communities and to schools and groups.  The proposals would also see the creation of a community history centre within Lichfield Library, providing online access to records as well as access to a range of community activities.

“The next step, once proposals are considered will be to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund which we would hope to do in December.”

The Archives Service continues to work with family history website findmypast to digitise over six million records including parish registers, wills and marriage bonds. People have free access to these records from Staffordshire Libraries as well as the Archive Service offices.  Over four million records are already available to search online with the remainder going on by the end of the year.

During the eight week consultation in the summer people were given the choice of four options.  Option A received 53% of the votes and more than the other three options put together. Option B received  23%,  Option C received 9% and Option D received 15%.

People can find out more about the proposals at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/archives

The outcomes with recommendation will be considered at the Joint Archive Committee meeting on 22 October. 

You can find full set of papers on the Joint Archives Committee 22 October 2015 web page.


People have their say on future of county’s Archives Service - September 2015

Hundreds of people have had their say on the future of the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service.

An eight week public consultation including an online survey and 11 public events took place over the summer with over 530 people having their say.

People were asked to consider and choose from four options. The majority of people (53%) have opted for the development of a new History Centre at the Record Office site on Eastgate Street in Stafford, 30% more than any other option.

Under the proposals to be considered by the Joint Archives Committee on 22 October, plans would see the creation of a modern centre that incorporates the adjacent William Salt Library with funding from Heritage Lottery.

More community activities and events, family history workshops, research space, and exhibitions would all be part of the plans. The proposals would also see records currently held at the Lichfield Record Office and the William Salt Library being moved into the new centre. An additional 25 years of storage space would also be created to hold future collections.

A community history centre would be created within Lichfield Library, providing online access to records as well as access to a range of community activities.

Cllr Ben Adams, Cabinet Member responsible for the consultation said: "After the consultation we have listened to people and developed a new vision which will ensure we have a sustainable Archives Service that better meets the needs of its customers."

Ben said: "This is an exciting time for the service. The proposals mean we can preserve our collections while providing a modern service that allows many more people to access and enjoy the records.

"We will continue developing our online offer, offering access to more digitised collections, and at the same time, taking the service out and involving our local communities. People have made their views loud and clear and following consideration by the Joint Archives Committee in October we hope to submit a funding application to Heritage Lottery in December."

Colonel Michael Evans, Chairman of the William Salt Library Trust said: "This option reflects the visions of both the Archive Service and the William Salt Library Trust and offers the best opportunity to realise them in the new "Staffordshire History Centre". It would improve storage conditions for our wonderful collection and allow it to continue to grow. There is a new role in the project for our fine Georgian Town House. We look forward to developing better presentation and a better on-line service for the benefit of people in Staffordshire."

Isobel Hunter, Head of Archives Sector Development at the National Archives said: "The creation of a Staffordshire History Centre would enable the continued preservation of the county's collections, and the provision of public access to their contents. We would welcome the opportunity to continue to engage with Staffordshire County Council on this matter and would like to commend the lengthy and extensive period of consultation being undertaken."

The Service also continues to work with family history website findmypast.co.uk to digitise over six million records including parish registers, wills and marriage bonds. People will have free access to these records from Staffordshire Libraries as well as the Archive Service offices. Over four million records are already available to search online with the remainder going on by the end of the year.

Option A received 53% of the votes and more than the other three options put together. Option B 23% / Option C 9% / Option D 15%. Learn more about the delivery options that the public were consulted on.

People can find out more about the background to our vision, and keep up to date with next steps in the process here.


Residents to help shape delivery of new vision for County’s Archives Service  - June 2015

People from across the county are being asked to help shape exciting plans to deliver a new vision for the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive and Heritage Service.

The new vision for the service sets out how the ten million historical records, 27,000 objects, 43,000 photographs and 1,800 works of art documenting the county’s past will be preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy. Giving more people access to the service, making more records available online and getting local communities and schools more involved in activities are also outlined in the plans.

The Service has been working with local history groups and the national Archives Service to develop a vision for the service for the next ten years and now wants to hear what people think.

People can take part in the consultation and complete an online survey here from 11am Friday 19 June until 14 August.

A series of public events where people can have their say will also be held across the county starting in Tamworth on 4 July.

Cllr Ben Adams, Cabinet Member responsible for the Archives and Heritage Service at Staffordshire County Council explained that the county was steeped in history and the service had a fascinating collection of historical records going back almost one thousand years.

Ben said: “We are very proud of our history and heritage here in Staffordshire and it’s vital that we protect it for future generations to enjoy. Over the past few years we have been working closely with different groups looking at how we can make sure we have a modern service, that’s fit for the future and gives people the best access to the records as possible.

“We are seeing many more people accessing family history records online and this is one of the areas we want to develop along with taking the service out and involving our local communities more. We now want to hear what people think of the plans to deliver the new vision so I would encourage anyone with an interest in family history to go along to one of the public events or have their say on the website.”

The main proposals include:

  • Creating a sustainable service that can be more resilient and able to care for the collections it holds.
  • Improving the online service to offer access to more digitised collections.
  • Reaching more new people to enjoy and learn from and use the collections.
  • Buildings that provide the right conditions for our collections and a service that retains its excellent rating for customer service.
  • Options for delivering the Service in the future

The future of the Service is closely linked with that of the William Salt Library Trust., whose Chairman, Michael Evans, said: “The William Salt Library Trust has looked after this unique collection for 143 years. Our vision for the Library is to ensure that we can continue that role but ensure more people can access it in person or online and become involved in helping us to preserve it for the next hundred years and beyond.”

An exciting project with family history website findmypast will also make over six million records including parish registers, wills and marriage bonds available online over the summer. People will have free access to these records from Staffordshire Libraries as well as the Archive Service offices.

Anyone who completes a consultation form will be entered into a free prize draw to win Findmypast vouchers and a family pass for the historic Shugborough Estate. Findings from the consultation will be looked at in late August and reported to the Project Board in September.

How to Take Part

Online Survey:

People can take part in the consultation and complete an online survey here from 11am Friday 19 June until 14 August.

Paper Survey:

You can pick up a paper copy of the survey from any library or record office in the county, and return it before 14 August 2015 to Archives Consultation, Strategic Property Services, Staffordshire Place 1, Tipping Street, Stafford ST16 2DH

Public Events:

You can attend one of the public events - the full schedule of public consulation events is available here

If you require the survey in any other format - such as large print or another language, or you have further questions not answered on these webpages, then please email staffordshire.record.office@staffordshire.gov.uk


 

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