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Staffordshire History Centre Background

New Staffordshire History Centre to be built

SHC Exhibition space

In June 2016 Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archives Service, in partnership with the William Salt Library Trust, obtained approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund to proceed with a stage 1 development phase to build a new Staffordshire History Centre. 

With the support of a £3.9M grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the centre will be located on Eastgate Street in Stafford and will hold archive, local studies and photographic collections up to 1,000 years old.  Exhibitions will also incorporate objects from the Museum collections. The partnership is in the fortunate position of owning the buildings at the Eastgate Street site and is able to take advantage of being able to remodel them to meet the new vision for the service. The extended Staffordshire Record Office will be linked to and incorporate the ground floor of the Grade II* listed William Salt Library.

Along with a new community exhibition space, modern search room and activity spaces and a packed programme of activities, the centre will also have additional strong rooms, providing storage for an additional 20 years of future collections.

Improved Access to Services

Records currently held at 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 can access a range of digital collections. Rare archive documents and objects 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.

Exciting activity programme and local opportunities

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 120 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. Read on for a chance to learn more about these activities. 

About the William Salt Library

William-SaltThe William Salt Library is a registered charity (no. 528570) and is supported by Staffordshire County Council. It is administered by an independent trust, run in close conjunction with the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service and is supported by the Friends of the William Salt Library, who assist the Library's preservation programme, and help with improvements to the Library's facilities. 

The Library contains a huge collection of printed books, pamphlets, manuscripts, drawings, watercolours, and transcripts built up by William Salt (1808-1863), a London banker, during his lifetime. The Library continues to collect and preserve printed books, printed ephemera, pamphlets and illustrative material relating to Staffordshire for present and future generations. Being part of the Staffordshire History Centre will ensure the unique  William Salt collection will be housed in a state of the art archive, preserved for present and future generations to come. Read more on the William Salt Library Webpages. 

Project Background

In October 2016 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) granted permission for the project team to start work on the development phase of the Staffordshire History Centre Project, and since then we have been working with the design team Pringle Richards Sharratt, to develop the plans and define what building and refurbishment works are necessary to create the new Staffordshire History Centre. We have also appointed consultants to assist us in developing various aspects of the project required for the HLF Stage II bid. Find out more information below. 

Funding 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. A stage 2 bid for approval and the remaining funds is being submitted in Summer 2018. If successful, work on the new centre could start as early as April 2019, however this is a very competitive process and the team are working hard to complete plans in line with HLF feedback. The project hope to hear the outcome by autumn 2018. 

An additional £100,000 has been made available through the Joint Archives Committee reserves and a further £358,500 is expected to be raised through other grants, foundations, businesses and charitable trusts. Learn more about our fundraising activities. 

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”.

More 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, Heritage Lottery Fund invests 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.  Follow HLF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported. 


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