Planning approval for a new history centre for the county has been given the go ahead.
The new £2.8m Staffordshire History centre to be located in the heart of Stafford, will hold the county’s historical records and collections going back 1,000 years.
The centre, located between Eastgate Street and North Walls in the town, will incorporate the existing Records Office and the William Salt Library building. As well as additional strong rooms and modern reading space, the project will also see an exciting programme of activities and collections taken out into local communities and schools.
Rare archives and museum pieces will also be displayed in a modern exhibition space, and over six million records, documenting the lives of ordinary Staffordshire people will be available in the new centre and online.
Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council said:
“We’re all very excited about the new centre and this is an important milestone for the project.
“Not only will the centre create a brand new visitor experience for everyone in Staffordshire but it will transform the way people interact with our services. Our schedule of activities and exhibitions will also allow us to take more of our amazing collections out to local communities and schools and get many more people excited about our history.”
Work with local history groups, partners, young people and teachers over the last few years all sharing their ideas have helped shape the plans.
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 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 Staffordshire’s 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.”
The project has initial round one support for a £3.9million National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). In June 2016, HLF awarded the project a development grant of £333,400 to enable the plans to progress. A second round application for the full funding amount has been submitted this month.
Match funding of £1.8m is also being raised by the partnership including grants, donations from local organisations and Friends, and in-kind contributions from volunteers.
Further details on the project are available at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/archives/ourvision where people can also sign up for the project e-newsletter.