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History centre project misses out on HLF funding

Plans for a new history centre for Staffordshire are to be re-considered following an unsuccessful bid for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The new Staffordshire History Centre would have been located on Eastgate Street in Stafford and would have held the county’s historical records and collections.

A bid for £3.9m towards the cost of the project was submitted to HLF by Staffordshire County Council’s Archives and Heritage Service and William Salt Library Trust.

The Staffordshire History project was one of 30 projects asking for funding. It was one of nine ranked as a high priority but in a tough funding round did not secure funding.

Gill Heath, Communities Chief at Staffordshire County Council said:

“We’re obviously all very disappointed that we were unable to secure the funding from HLF.  We had a strong bid but it was an incredibly competitive process with tough competition from other major projects across the country.

“While the feedback from HLF   recognised the quality of our consultation and the range of activities to be delivered, we will now be working with partners to revise the plans to ensure we can deliver the best service possible.”

Mithra Tonking, Chairman of the William Salt Trust, said:

“It is disappointing news but the work done so far has given the Trust a great deal of useful information about its collection and its building which should help us protect and develop both for the future.”

Work by the service to get more records online and to take more collections and exhibitions out to local communities will continue and some funding has been secured for this.

This includes securing matched funding to catalogue Lichfield ecclesiastical court records known as the ‘Bawdy Courts’ with a grant from the Archives Revealed programme.  This project is supported by The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust, the Wolfson Foundation and the Foyle Foundation; and a large grant from the Welcome Trust.  This will help to make the historic county asylum records more accessible and deliver an exhibition on mental health.  These projects will start this autumn and will be looking for volunteers to get involved.