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Staffordshire History Centre: £4m plans move step closer

By Jack Averty | Stafford | News | Published:

Plans for a new multi-million pound history centre have moved a step closer.

Staffordshire County Council is behind the plans

Key partners and a design team are now on-board for the £4 million plans for a Staffordshire History Centre.

The new centre, which will be located in the heart of Stafford, 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 number of activities, the centre will also have additional strong rooms, providing storage for an extra 25 years of future collections.

Staffordshire County Council, which is behind the plans, hope to unveil them in detail at a series of events later this year.

Gill Heath, the cabinet member for communities at the 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.”

The new centre will be located between Eastgate Street and North Walls incorporating the existing Records Office and the William Salt Library building.

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

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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.

It was given the greenlight in June last year after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) approved a grant of £333,400.

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A second bid for funding will be submitted next year and, if approved, work could start in 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, the chairman of the William Salt Library Trust, added: “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.”

Jack Averty

By Jack Averty
Senior Reporter - @javerty_star

Reporter with the Express & Star, based at head office in Wolverhampton

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