Key partners and design team now on-board with plans moving at pace for a new multi-million pound Staffordshire History Centre.
To be located in the heart of Stafford, the new £4m Staffordshire History centre 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 extra 25 years of future collections.
Planning for the new centre is now well underway following the appointment of Pringle Richards Sharratt as design team and architects, and the project team all in place. Workshops with local history groups, partners, young people and teachers all sharing their ideas to help develop an exciting programme of activities are also ongoing. It is expected that the public will get the chance to see detailed plans at a series of events in the autumn.
Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council said: “We’re all very excited about the project and now with the architects and design teams on board we’re starting to put some detail together on the activity programme and design of the centre. There’s real energy and enthusiasm amongst our partners and local history groups too which is great. The project team are busy behind the scenes planning and we hope to be able to share more detailed plans with the public in the autumn.”
Located between Eastgate Street and North Walls incorporating the existing Records Office and the William Salt Library building, the new centre will display rare archives and museum pieces 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. The project team are working closely with Stafford Borough Council, Friends of William Salt Library and Friends of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archives.
The project has received funding of £333,400 for the development phase 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”.
Mithra Tonking, Chairman of the William Salt Library Trust, said: “The William Salt Library Trust is 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.”
Further details on the project are available at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/archives/ourvision where people can also sign up for the brand new e-newsletter. A video on the project is also available here.